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Online Colleges in Ohio: The Best Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018

With the constant development of technology, many online colleges in Ohio have made a point to utilize these advancements to allow for greater accessibility to collegiate-level learning. Ohio State University, for example, offers nearly 20 fully online academic programs that can lead a student to earning a degree at the associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level. Many four-year Ohio institutions—like Ohio University—have developed transfer agreements with community colleges in their area, and accept online credit just as readily as they would traditional credit.

Beginning a college education—whether in person or online—is one of the most significant transitional events a person goes through in their lifetime. However, it is often the case that many potential students do not know which resources may benefit them during the process of selecting a school. How does one know how to tell if an online school in Ohio is properly accredited, or offers programs at the level at wish they wish to study? The information found on this page is designed to help answer these questions, and to ensure students looking for online colleges in Ohio are able to pursue their long-term educational goals with as few roadblocks as possible.

The Best Online Colleges in Ohio

With the wide variety of online degree programs Ohio, it can be difficult to decide which programs may be most beneficial to a student. It is common for students to have questions regarding credit transferability, financial aid coverage and number of available programs, so we’ve put together a ranked list of the best accredited online colleges in Ohio and the best affordable online colleges in Ohio. These rankings take into account student graduation rate, availability of online learning options, student-teacher ratio, and other such criteria. Read below to find Ohio’s best online learning opportunities that will help you meet your goals.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

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

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Mount Vernon, OH 100.00 $15,845 6 100% 13:160%no yes yes
2 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH 99.03 $21,510 29 89% 15:142%yes yes yes
3 University of Toledo Toledo, OH 98.88 $8,052 18 89% 20:146%yes yes yes
4 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH 97.90 $9,168 7 79% 19:183%no yes yes
5 Ohio University-Main Campus Athens, OH 97.85 $10,602 18 80% 18:166%yes yes yes
6 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati, OH 97.70 $9,332 29 54% 18:163%yes yes yes
7 Miami University-Oxford Oxford, OH 97.45 $11,673 8 64% 15:181%yes yes yes
8 Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green, OH 97.40 $9,096 17 71% 20:154%yes yes yes
9 Wilberforce University Wilberforce, OH 97.20 $12,020 24 67% 8:124%yes yes yes
10 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH 96.86 $10,012 11 78% 21:152%no yes yes
11 Youngstown State University Youngstown, OH 96.18 $7,847 11 59% 17:133%yes yes yes
12 Urbana University Urbana, OH 96.03 $22,012 3 81% 20:134%yes yes yes
13 Gods Bible School and College Cincinnati, OH 95.83 $6,000 3 69% 11:135%yes yes yes
14 University of Akron Main Campus Akron, OH 95.77 $8,618 8 61% 19:140%yes yes yes
15 Wright State University-Main Campus Dayton, OH 95.47 $8,730 10 66% 22:141%no yes yes
16 Franciscan University of Steubenville Steubenville, OH 94.90 $23,470 7 99% 14:171%no no yes
17 Cleveland State University Cleveland, OH 94.78 $9,636 9 40% 18:132%yes yes yes
18 Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH 93.38 $16,470 15 49% 12:133%yes no yes
19 Mercy College of Ohio Toledo, OH 92.42 $11,100 3 32% 6:165%no no yes
20 University of Northwestern Ohio Lima, OH 92.39 $9,364 8 24% 26:144%no yes yes
21 Franklin University Columbus, OH 90.51 $11,136 37 N/A 15:115%yes no yes
22 Union Institute & University Cincinnati, OH 89.89 $11,760 13 N/A 10:142%yes no yes
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Best Online Colleges in Ohio (2-Year Schools)

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati, OH 100.00 $3,567 28 9% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH 98.34 $3,808 41 16% 20:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH 96.88 $3,169 15 34% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
4 Clark State Community College Springfield, OH 96.37 $2,912 13 5% 14:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Edison State Community College Piqua, OH 96.02 $3,610 6 16% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 James A Rhodes State College Lima, OH 95.65 $3,845 7 25% 14:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 North Central State College Mansfield, OH 95.01 $3,016 3 11% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes
8 Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland, OH 94.77 $3,953 23 2% 21:1N/Ayes yes yes
9 Lakeland Community College Kirtland, OH 94.17 $4,136 5 15% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
10 Central Ohio Technical College Newark, OH 94.15 $4,296 4 8% 15:1N/Ayes yes yes
11 Eastern Gateway Community College Steubenville, OH 93.83 $3,510 17 18% 18:1N/Ayes no yes
12 Stark State College North Canton, OH 93.80 $2,796 13 11% 21:1N/Ayes yes yes
13 Terra State Community College Fremont, OH 93.20 $3,999 3 18% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes

Tuition & Financial Aid for Online Schools in Ohio

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates varies from state to state, but it is not uncommon for out-of-state students to be paying more than double what in-state students are charged. Ohio residency is most often dictated by the length of time a student has lived in the state, with a required minimum of 12 months. Exceptions to this rule may also be made when considering a potential student’s marital dependency or background in the armed forces. As a comparative example, tuition rates for the 2015-2016 school years are as follows:

In-state tuition:

$3,642—Public, two-year institution

$9,757—Public, four-year institution

Out-of-state tuition:

$7,409—Public, two-year institution

$24,354—Public, four-year institution

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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Do students pay in-state or out-of-state tuition for online colleges in Ohio?

It is most often the case that a student who is not living in Ohio, or has not lived in Ohio for longer than twelve months, will be paying out-of-state tuition prices. Students new to living in Ohio may be eligible to qualify for in-state tuition rights if they are holders of an Ohio driver’s license, qualify to vote in the state of Ohio, or meet other such parameters. If a student grew up in Ohio or has lived in Ohio for longer than twelve months, they can expect to be charged at a cheaper rate.

Depending on which state a student is coming from, however, there may be other avenues to securing in-state tuition rights. If a student lives in one of the ten states that partner with the Midwest Student Exchange Program and plans on attending a qualifying school, they will not be charged more than 150 percent of Ohio’s typical in-state rates. Partnering states include Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.Students who have lived in the state of Ohio for longer than twelve months are eligible for in-state tuition rights, but that does not mean students coming from out-of-state do not have options.

  • 2.A student living in one of the ten states partnering with the Midwest Student Exchange Program could benefit from researching which schools honor this agreement.

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How do I apply for financial aid in Ohio?

The best part about applying for many forms of financial aid is that it is free. FAFSA—or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—is one of the most widely utilized financial coverage options that is accepted throughout the country, annually providing more over $120 billion dollars for American students. Outside of federal aid, students may also benefit from regionally funded scholarship and grant programs. The Ohio Department of Higher Education provides a number of links for students planning on pursuing a post-secondary education and are interested in receiving some form of financial coverage. In addition to applying for different forms of financial aid, students and parents may also consider reviewing a 529 savings plan to better prepare for future academic pursuits.

In order to qualify as eligible to receive financial coverage, Ohio students must meet certain criteria specified by federal parameters. One of the most important of these stipulations requires students to maintain satisfactory academic progress throughout the course of their education, which is decided by a student’s overall GPA. Depending on which form of financial coverage a student is applying for, they will also be required to meet a certain credit count per-semester.

  • GPA:

    Most often, a student is required to maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher to receive aid.

  • Max credit loads:

    If a student exceeds 150 percent of the required credit for a declared program, they will be exempt from financial aid coverage.

  • Completion:

    Students must satisfactorily complete 67 percent of their attempted courses. This requirement is reviewed on an annual basis.

Ohio’s College Scholarships & Grants

While most institutions throughout the state of Ohio offer scholarships specific to their school, students may also choose to apply for state-funded and nationally-funded grants and scholarship programs. In order to apply for some of these funding options, students may be required to first complete the FAFSA form.

What college scholarships and grants are offered for Ohio students?

There are a number of scholarship types that students can be considering when looking into financial coverage. Scholarships and grants funded at the state level offer the benefit of lowering overall tuition cost for an academic program, and are available to students studying in that state. These programs often provide funding with a specific goal in mind. The Choose Ohio First program, for instance, was developed in hopes of increasing accessibility to STEMM, allowing Ohio residents to play a larger role in technological and scientific development. Grants typically differ from scholarships in that they are often more dependent on federal and state funding and are tend to be need-based, relying on income as opposed to personal merit. The Pell Grant is a common choice for students coming from low-income backgrounds, as it is offered and more than 5,000 institutions operating throughout the United States.

Additionally, all postsecondary schools have at least some scholarship programs that are merit-based instead of need-based. Whether a student is eligible for one of these programs is usually more focused on academic background than family background. Ohio State University’s National Buckeye Scholarship for Non-Ohio Residents is an example of a merit-based scholarship, and is only available to students whose academic excellence has put them in the top 25 percent of their graduating class.

The best way for a student to find available scholarships or grants, though, is to be researching what is available and accepted at their institution of choice. Each institution’s financial aid department will have plenty of information regarding the different financial coverage options that are utilized at that school.

What is Ohio’s application process for scholarships and grants?

Each form of financial coverage may have slightly different requirements for the application process. In the case of merit-based scholarships—such as the Ohio Distinction Scholarship—students who are already meeting the necessary qualifications may only be required to fill out the necessary application, along with providing proof of meeting the program’s requirements. Other forms of coverage, especially those funded at the state-level, may require the student to apply for FAFSA prior to applying for their scholarship of choice. The best way for a student to be certain that they are covering their bases when applying for a scholarship or grant is to be regularly corresponding with their school’s financial aid department.

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How to Find the Best Online Colleges in Ohio

Many students new to college may be interested in pursuing a degree online, but also may not have had any experience learning in a virtual format. Because taking online courses is a unique and specialized experience, many of these students often have similar questions. Below are some of the questions that are most often asked by students interested in pursuing an online education.

Which online schools in Ohio accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

The majority of collegiate institutions are willing to honor transferable college credit, but there are a number of criteria a course must meet to be accepted. One of the most important points of information a school looks at when evaluating transfer credit is the accreditation of the school from which the credit is coming. As a general rule, credit coming from a regionally accredited school is more likely to be accepted than credit from a nationally accredited school. Utilizing the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation database is an excellent way to tell which schools are accredited by which agencies, further allowing students to research which agencies are more respected.

Students planning on transferring credit from one Ohio institution to another are in luck. The Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee helps to ensure that all students studying in the Ohio area are able to move their credit around seamlessly. This is particularly beneficial for students studying at the associate level who are interested in furthering their education with a four-year degree.

Do I need to enroll in an online college in Ohio if I’m an Ohio resident?

As an online learner, a student has the benefit of attending a program that is in any other state without the hassle of relocating. The primary drawback to this style of learning is that it is more difficult for these students to qualify for in-state tuition rights. If an Ohio resident were to register as an online student with an Ohio school, however–particularly one that may not be in the student’s immediate area–will allow for both in-state tuition and the comfort of working from home.

Enrolling in an in-state online program also gives Ohio residents the benefit of specialized financial aid options. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant, for instance, is specifically available to Ohio residents who come from backgrounds of heightened financial need. Applying for scholarship while also being granted in-state tuition rights can result in the most affordable academic career possible while studying in Ohio.

How do I choose between online colleges in Ohio?

As state above, it is always important to check a school’s accreditation before considering attending. The reason regional accreditation is preferred to national accreditation is because regional agencies have fewer schools to check for satisfactory quality–fewer schools means heightened scrutiny on each academic program. National agencies have a greater number of schools to be maintaining, causing schools of lower quality to develop less beneficial programs.

It is also important for a student to weigh in what their own personal goals may be. If a student is interested in pursuing an online degree at a cheaper rate, they may be happier attending one of Ohio’s community colleges, like Clark State Community College. However, students who are more focused on working through a four-year program right away may be interested in a school like Ohio University, which offers a number of its bachelor’s degrees in distance learning formats.