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Alabama Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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Alabama’s online colleges have kept up nicely with the fast-growing need for flexible higher educational options. Students planning to attend an online Alabama college can choose to enroll in several top-notch public or private universities and colleges at either an undergraduate or graduate level. Two-year colleges, certification courses, continuing education and individual courses are also readily available, and can be found in online databases . The University of Alabama’s Bama by Distance program provides a great example of online offerings, with over 50 online degree programs in areas such as social work, arts and sciences, education, engineering, law and nursing. Examples of other noteworthy Alabama colleges with a large variety of online degree programs include Troy University, Judson College and Athens State University.

Deciding on an Alabama online schools is a big step, and it’s common for students to have a lot of questions before committing to a particular school. Some students may need more information on payment and affordability, while other may be focused on class size and college rankings. This page has the answer to these questions and can help you make an informed decision about your academic future. Continue reading to learn more information about online colleges and universities in Alabama.

Best Online Colleges in Alabama: 2018

When researching online colleges, students can search for the best affordable online colleges in Alabama or the best accredited online colleges in Alabama, depending on what’s most important to them. Along with accreditation and affordability, there are other important factors worth considering. We have compiled a “best of” list of online Alabama colleges using general criteria such as student to faculty ratio, the number of online offerings and tuition costs to rank Alabama online colleges. We have also included other useful data such as graduation rates and financial aid information, and whether the college offers credit for experience, counseling, and placement services. Use this list to see how Alabama online colleges compare, and find the one that best fits your needs.

  • 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 Judson College Marion, AL 100.00 $15,204 14 98% 9:141%yes yes yes
2 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 99.78 $9,826 24 55% 24:167%yes yes yes
3 Troy University Troy, AL 98.12 $6,528 24 54% 15:136%yes yes yes
4 Amridge University Montgomery, AL 97.97 $6,000 17 100% 10:167%yes no yes
5 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL 97.93 $9,158 11 74% 16:148%no yes yes
6 Auburn University Auburn University, AL 97.16 $8,592 20 57% 19:168%no yes yes
7 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL 96.87 $7,510 5 72% 18:153%yes yes yes
8 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL 96.73 $8,490 14 60% 18:131%yes yes yes
9 University of Mobile Mobile, AL 96.67 $18,720 4 97% 13:149%no yes yes
10 Faulkner University Montgomery, AL 96.50 $17,020 16 91% 15:125%no yes yes
11 Heritage Christian University Florence, AL 96.34 $8,952 3 100% 8:1N/Ayes yes yes
12 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL 95.53 $6,868 15 62% 13:130%no yes yes
13 University of North Alabama Florence, AL 95.33 $5,856 14 60% 21:135%no yes yes
14 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL 95.01 $6,888 7 58% 20:133%no yes yes
15 Alabama State University Montgomery, AL 94.32 $6,936 3 39% 16:125%yes yes yes
16 Auburn University at Montgomery Montgomery, AL 93.73 $8,430 10 33% 16:127%no yes yes
17 Athens State University Athens, AL 90.38 $5,370 10 N/A 23:1N/Ayes yes yes
18 United States Sports Academy Daphne, AL 86.85 $12,960 8 N/A 8:1N/Ano no yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Snead State Community College Boaz, AL 100.00 $3,390 9 55% 23:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Gadsden State Community College Gadsden, AL 98.27 $2,712 4 25% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 George C Wallace State Community College-Selma Selma, AL 98.18 $3,390 3 15% 14:1N/Ayes yes yes
4 Bevill State Community College Jasper, AL 97.88 $3,390 5 31% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Jefferson State Community College Birmingham, AL 97.81 $3,390 13 15% 20:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 John C Calhoun State Community College Tanner, AL 93.06 $3,390 3 21% 23:1N/Ayes no yes

Tuition & Financial Aid for Colleges in Alabama

When searching for colleges, students will discover that it’s much less expensive to pay in-state tuition rates versus out-of-state tuition. Residency requirements vary from state to state, and typically range from six months to one year. In Alabama, students are required to live in the state for at least 12 months prior to enrollment, and must prove they are living in the state for reasons other than education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , the following is an average of what students paid for tuition during the 2015-2016 at Alabama’s public four-year institutions:

In-state tuition: $9179

Out-of-state tuition: $23,261

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Do online college students in Alabama pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

Online degree programs are ideal for students requiring maximum flexibility, for reasons such as full-time employment, family responsibilities and military duties. In Alabama, whether online students will be required to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition depends on the individual college or university. Public colleges and universities often offer online degrees to both residents and non-residents at the in-state tuition rate, although costs can vary, depending on the school and major chosen. For-profit schools often charge online students the same tuition rate as on-campus students, which is often higher than public tuition costs. Typically, Alabama residents pursuing an online degree from an Alabama institution will pay in-state tuition. Students planning to earn an online degree should check with schools prior to enrolling to see if they will be charged extra fees that could bring their costs up higher than in-state tuition.

Alabama residents can take advantage of the Academic Common Market , a program through the Southern Regional Education Board, which gives Alabama residents access to degrees offered by participating schools, with options in 15 specific southern states, including Alabama, at an in-state tuition rate.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.It is ultimately up to the individual college as to whether online students qualify for in-state or out-of-state tuition.

  • 2.Alabama is part of the Academic Common Market, which allows Alabama residents to pursue an online education at an in-state tuition rate through one of 15 southern states in the market.

How can I qualify and apply for financial aid?

Applying for financial aid requires diligence, as there are typically strict deadlines, along with residency and academic requirements. The starting point for obtaining financial aid is filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Students can fill out a FAFSA either online or can get assistance through the college’s financial aid office. Plus, scholarship and grant applications will often require a copy of the completed FAFSA to determine financial need. The FAFSA deadline for online submissions is typically June 30 of each year. In addition to federal financial aid, an Alabama student can also apply for scholarships and grants offered by the state, the college or through private or non-profit organizations.

Once accepted, students receiving federal financial aid must meet basic eligibility requirements throughout the time aid is received, and re-apply each year. For other types of aid, eligibility may be based on merit, need or both, along with other eligibility requirements. Continued eligibility is determined by several factors, including the federal guidelines for satisfactory academic progress, and those set by individual colleges.

  • Residency

    For federal student aid, U.S. citizenship or being an eligible non-citizen is required. Alabama state aid and in-house college aid may also have Alabama state residency requirements.

  • GPA

    For federal student aid, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Other types of aid will typically have higher GPA requirements than that, and can vary based on what type of aid and who it is from.

  • Time commitments

    Federal student aid requires at least half-time enrollment, while other sources may require students to maintain full-time enrollment.

  • Max credit loads

    Some students will be required to maintain a specific amount of credit hours, not go over a specific amount, and complete them by a certain time.

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Alabama’s Grants & Scholarships

Alabama students have numerous options for financial aid that doesn’t require going into debt. Aside from loans, there are several resources for funding within the state, along with a large amount of scholarships offered throughout the country. This is where thorough research really pays off. Alabama students can apply to state-administered financial aid programs, or for scholarships and grants offered in-house by the individual college or program of study, or through private and non-profit institutions in Alabama and other parts of the country.

What scholarships and grants can I apply for in Alabama?

Often Scholarships and grants have very specific eligibility requirements, along with the basics already mentioned in this guide. For example, some scholarships will require recipients to belong to a specific age or minority group, to live in a certain county, or be planning a career in a specific field. Often students are eligible for in-house college scholarships that are offered to those in specific programs of study. Alabama students can research online and find databases such as Scholarships.com and other search tools that that can help find scholarships and grants for which they are eligible to apply. It is good to start locally, as there are several Alabama state agencies that offer scholarships .

What are the application requirements?

Applying for scholarships can be time-consuming, as there is often a lot of information to gather, but it is worth the hard work. Online is the easiest way to search for scholarships, and financial aid departments at local colleges can also help. To qualify, students may have to supply high school or college transcripts, proof of residency, references and financial information, along with a student written essay. Thorough research is the key to finding as many scholarships as possible to apply for. Allow plenty of time to complete the necessary paperwork and other requirements, and make sure to note the deadlines. The Alabama state website has a list of Alabama state agency based scholarships and how to apply. Databases such as The College Grants Database and fastweb allow you to search for scholarships specific to Alabama. Often applications are available on the websites of generous organizations, businesses, colleges and agencies.

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FAQs About Finding an Online College in Alabama

Alabama students have a lot of choices nowadays when it comes to online colleges. Often students planning to earn a degree online are doing so because they need a flexible plan. In addition, online colleges vary in their requirements and acceptance of previous credits and experience. This brings us to the most common questions we receive from Alabama students searching for the right online college.

Will Alabama colleges accept my transfer credits and/or work/life experience?

Alabama students can often transfer credits already earned at another college to their online college degree program. Many students don’t realize that another option is earning college credit for life experience. Criteria to qualify for this is very specific, and most colleges and universities will take this type of request on a case by case basis. The University of University of Alabama’s LifeTrack program page provides an excellent explanation of how this typically works. In addition to public and private colleges and universities, several community colleges in the Alabama Community College System will accept transfer credits and life experience toward degrees.

Should I pick an online college in Alabama if I’m a resident?

Alabama residents do not need to pick an online college based in Alabama. Students can enroll in online colleges and universities across the country and throughout the world. It’s important to check with the college prior to enrolling that programs and degrees are offered to students residing in specific states, as some do not. The benefits of choosing an online college in Alabama or those in the Academic Common Market is to ensure eligibility for in-state tuition, and that travel to campus or to clinical sites will be possible, as is required with certain degrees and hybrid programs. Also, several online colleges and universities have articulation agreements with Alabama colleges, which is important for those planning to later attend an on-campus degree program in their area, or to further their education through online degree and certification programs. The Alabama Articulation and General Studies Committee (AGSC) was created through the Alabama Legislature to make the process of transferring credits between public colleges and universities easier. The ASG also oversees the Statewide Transfer & Articulation Reporting System (STARS), which simplifies the transferring process, guides transfer students from public two-year schools to secure a transfer agreement to a school offering their chosen major, and helps prevents loss of credits during transfers.

How do I choose an online college in Alabama?

Choosing an online college or university can be a daunting task with so many options now available. Luckily, Alabama has a large selection and variety of online programs available. Determining individual needs and thorough research are key to success when searching for the right fit. Guides like this that provide comparisons between and rankings of online Alabama colleges are a great place to start, along with individual college websites. The Important factors to consider are tuition costs, financial aid availability, number of online programs and certifications offered, students resources available online, type of technology for course delivery used, and accreditation by organizations such as The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to ensure quality.