Affordable Colleges Online Ranking Methodology

Ranking Metrics

At Affordable Colleges Online, we aim to provide prospective students with relativant, up-to-date information that allows them to select the best school for them. Every college in our rankings must be an accredited public or private nonprofit institution and offer at least 10 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the categories listed below.

Undergraduate Rankings

Affordability (60%)

  • Net price
  • Ratio of the average amount of aid received to the average cost
  • Percentage of students awarded financial aid
  • Loan default rate

Quality (40%)

  • Graduation rate
  • Retention rate
  • Number of programs offered
  • Student-to-faculty ratio

Graduate Rankings

Affordability (60%)

  • Graduate tuition and graduate fees
  • Percentage of students awarded financial aid
  • Loan default rate
  • Percentage of tuition change per year

Commitment to Graduate Education (40%)

  • Ratio of the number of master's degree programs offered via distance education to the total number of master's programs
  • Ratio of the total number of master's programs to the total number of programs
  • Percentage of graduate students

Data Sources

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most long standing and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.