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Louisiana Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2017-2018

Updated on: 12/06/17

Students must weigh many important factors when deciding on a college in which to enroll. This is especially true for online students, who need to understand typical considerations such as tuition costs and residency requirements, as well as if the degree they are seeking to earn will lead to licensure or professional certification in their home state. Some students simply want to know about the best affordable online colleges or distance learning programs in a particular state and how those colleges rate against competing institutions. The following guide can help students navigate a host of questions about online colleges in Louisiana. Students considering enrolling in an online college in Louisiana can use the resources and tools on this page to answer most questions regarding online universities in the state.

What students are asking today:

The Growth of Online Colleges in Louisiana

Like many states, Louisiana has experienced robust growth in its online distance learning programs. For example, the Louisiana State Board of Regents reports that Louisiana State University at Shreveport has seen a nearly 200 percent rise in enrollment from out-of-state students from 2009 through 2016 – that’s one in every five students. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that almost 90 percent of all graduate students at LSU-Shreveport were enrolled in distance-only programs through LSUS Online. The online portal offers four bachelor’s degree programs, and 14 graduate programs in business and education.

Much of the growth in online learning in Louisiana can be attributed to a wider array of online program offerings from colleges and universities, and the growth of Louisiana Online, the statewide portal for distance education programs. Louisiana Online offers 201 fully online programs and 21 graduate certificates from the Louisiana State University System, the University of Louisiana System, and Southern University System. There also are 73 completely online technical degree programs from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. According to the NCES, there are 72 two- and four-year universities in the state, many of which offer 100-percent online degree programs or hybrid degree programs that require between 50 and 99 percent on-campus attendance.

Featured Online Colleges

Grand Canyon University

Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a private, Christian university that offers more than 160 academic programs and more than 100 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral online degrees.

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Southern New Hampshire University

You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there.

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Kaplan University

Helping you achieve your goals, from enrollment through graduation and beyond.

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Paying for College in Louisiana: Tuition & Financial Aid

Residency classification is a tremendously important factor for student’s tuition costs. In Louisiana, as in most states, there’s a vast gap between cost of in-state tuition and fees versus out-of-state tuition – average cost for out-of-state tuition in Louisiana is 183 percent higher than in-state tuition for undergraduate college students.

So how do students establish residency in Louisiana? To meet in-state tuition requirements for any college campus in the state, students must meet all three of the following criteria:

    1. Be domiciled in Louisiana continuously for at least one full year

    2. Students cannot have enrolled in any college or university in the state during this period

    3. Student has abandoned all previous residences outside the state

Here are the average costs for tuition and fees for postsecondary institutions in Louisiana for the 2016-2017 academic year:

In-state tuition: $8,162

Out-of-state tuition: $23,099

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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

There’s good news for online students who might be apprehensive about the cost of out-of-state tuition. Colleges in Louisiana charge distance learners in-state tuition costs. This reduction in fees helps attract a greater number of students to online programs.

Online students at University of Louisiana at Monroe, for instance, are charged the Louisiana resident tuition rate. It’s the same at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, although students who enroll in that university’s online RN-to-BSN nursing program are charged a different fee structure of $9,500 for the degree program.

There are usually modest technology and other fees associated with taking coursework in the digital classroom. For instance, online and hybrid students at University of Louisiana Monroe pay an additional $30 per credit hour, and grad students pay an extra $50 per credit hour. These fees typically are used to develop and enrich online programming.

Students in Louisiana who wish to pursue a degree program not offered by a college in the state may receive a waiver for out-of-state tuition costs under the under the Academic Common Market, a tuition reciprocity agreement between Louisiana and 14 other East Coast/Southern region states.

Summary on tuition costs in Louisiana:
  • 1. Online students pay in-state tuition costs at Louisiana Colleges regardless of where they live

  • 2. Louisiana students may receive a waiver for in-state tuition if they pursue a degree offered in 14 states under the Academic Common Market agreement.

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How Do I Apply for Financial Aid in Louisiana?

Students who are legal U.S. citizens and are seeking federal financial aid to pay for college must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as a FAFSA. Be aware that there are hard deadlines to get applications submitted – in Louisiana, students must submit their completed FAFSA by July 1 for the upcoming academic year. However, the federal deadline for online applications is June 30. Colleges also may have strict or priority deadlines regarding federal financial aid – be certain not to delay this crucial aspect of paying for college.

Students who are not U.S. citizens also can receive federal student aid as well if they meet certain criteria.

All students who receive federal financial aid in Louisiana must meet certain eligibility requirements to retain that aid. The foremost consideration among these criteria is maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress, or SAP.

SAP requirements include:

  • GPA

    Maintain a cumulative grade-point-average of at least 2.0 after four semesters

  • Time commitments

    Complete at least 66.67 percent of all classes. Incomplete grades (I), Failed (F) or withdrawn (W) all count as attempted classes and figure into earned credits.

  • Max credit loads

    Federal student aid has limits on instructional hours. They are:

    • 180 for first bachelor’s
    • 45 for second bachelor’s
    • 104 for master’s
    • 113 for doctoral degrees
    • 60 for teaching certificates

Students who take courses outside those parameters must pay for their own tuition. Lastly, students who receive federal aid must fill out a FAFSA for every year they remain in school.

What happens to students who don’t meet the SAP standard?

Students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress, which includes having too many poor grades, incomplete or withdrawn classes, can lose eligibility for federal student aid. Typically, students are notified by their school’s financial aid office that they have lost eligibility. Students on financial aid suspension have a few options:

  • Attend school without financial aid for a minimum of six credit hours, and earn at least a 2.0 GPA and complete 67 percent of coursework.

  • File an appeal.

Neither option is simple. The easiest course of action is to maintain SAP while receiving federal financial aid.

Scholarships and Grants for College in Louisiana

There are many ways to get assistance with college tuition in Louisiana. One of the first steps for incoming college students in the state should be to check with the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, which has been helping residents pay for college since 1962.

LOSFA has many different aid and scholarship programs to help pay for tuition at Louisiana colleges. Aid programs are usually intended for students in financial need, while scholarships are typically awarded based on merit, such as exceptional academic performance.

The section below provides an in-depth look at many issues students in Louisiana typically have regarding scholarships and similar questions.

What scholarships and grants can I apply for?

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance administers a range of programs for Louisiana residents. Foremost among them is TOPS, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. TOPS awards have four different criteria:

  • Opportunity

  • Performance

  • Honors

  • Tech

Students also should check the Louisiana scholarships page on scholarships.com for other state-specific resources.

How can I apply for Louisiana scholarships and grants?

Applying for Louisiana scholarships is a bit like applying for financial aid. Students typically need to have a minimum college or high school GPA, and complete an application. Requirements vary by scholarship. For the LOFSA TOPS scholarship, for instance, students must have a minimum ACT score, meet residency requirements, and be enrolled as a full-time freshman. Scholarships from private organizations may require a personal essay and in-person interview in front of the organization’s scholarship committee. The key is to ensure all required documentation is present and correct, and it’s sent in on time (better yet, early). The same information holds true for in-state grants, such as the LOFSA Go Grant.

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Best Online Colleges in Louisiana: 2018

Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions college students can make – it’s as important as choosing the right major. Some students seek the best accredited online colleges in Louisiana, while others might want the best affordable online colleges in Louisiana. The rankings below were created using a unique methodology and a wide range of data points provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Students can use the rankings below to search for a university in Louisiana that offers degree programs that meet their educational goals.

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Methodology
  • 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 Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA 100.00 $4,934 30 58% 20:1 38% yes yes yes
2 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA 99.42 $4,986 33 58% 21:1 40% no yes yes
3 Louisiana Tech University Ruston, LA 97.87 $6,233 8 72% 23:1 50% no yes yes
4 Louisiana State University-Shreveport Shreveport, LA 96.84 $4,937 5 68% 20:1 33% no yes yes
5 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA 96.61 $6,678 8 55% 23:1 67% no yes yes
6 University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA 96.57 $6,388 4 41% 20:1 32% yes yes yes
7 McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA 96.26 $4,679 9 43% 20:1 37% yes yes yes
8 Nicholls State University Thibodaux, LA 95.45 $4,922 9 36% 19:1 42% no yes yes
9 Grambling State University Grambling, LA 95.01 $4,895 3 34% 20:1 31% no yes yes
10 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA 94.69 $4,915 5 38% 23:1 45% no yes yes
11 Southern University and A & M College Baton Rouge, LA 94.40 $6,630 7 24% 24:1 32% no yes yes
12 Southern University at New Orleans New Orleans, LA 93.23 $3,501 3 5% 15:1 11% yes yes yes
13 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary New Orleans, LA 92.17 $6,120 7 8% 13:1 11% no yes yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Central Louisiana Technical Community College Alexandria, LA 100.00 $1,461 6 27% 18:1 N/A yes yes yes
2 Louisiana State University-Eunice Eunice, LA 98.63 $2,618 4 16% 21:1 N/A yes yes yes
3 Delgado Community College New Orleans, LA 97.18 $2,922 5 2% 19:1 N/A yes yes yes
4 Bossier Parish Community College Bossier City, LA 96.74 $2,980 4 11% 27:1 N/A no yes yes
5 Fletcher Technical Community College Schriever, LA 95.91 $2,922 3 4% 21:1 N/A no yes yes
6 River Parishes Community College Gonzales, LA 91.63 $2,980 3 2% 31:1 N/A yes no yes

Finding Your Louisiana Online College

No two students evaluate a college the same. For some, tuition cost is the primary factor. For others, it’s the college’s reputation and how much weight their degree carries in their chosen field. The questions below are some of the most common issues students want to know about when researching online colleges in Louisiana.

Which Louisiana colleges accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

Colleges and universities throughout the state of Louisiana accept transfer credit earned at regionally accredited institutions, regardless of where they were taken. Credit is not given for non-academic or technical classes (such as those typically offered at vocational schools).

Students with previously completed coursework can determine which credits may transfer using the Master Course Articulation Matrix. This tool provided by the State of Louisiana Board of Regents helps students know what classes they can transfer into postsecondary institutions in Louisiana.

Universities in the state also may closely examine student transcripts, as well as other institutions’ course catalogs to determine the nature of completed courses for transfer purposes. Nicholls State University, for instance, may even require students to provide a detailed course syllabus to determine course equivalents.

Students should also note that some transfer credits may not satisfy degree requirements at the college of their choice. Typically, transfer credits that apply to a program major are determined by the dean’s office.

Do I need to pick an online college in Louisiana if I live in the state?

Not at all. Distance learners can enroll in online colleges across the nation. Remember, though, that previously completed coursework from a postsecondary institution in Louisiana may be directly transferable to other institutions in the state, and certain financial aid or grants require residency in Louisiana. The key is to explore the educational landscape and find the right affordable online college.

How do I pick an online college in Louisiana?

There’s no right or wrong or specific formula for choosing the best online college in Louisiana. Students can follow the suggestions below, however, to help them narrow down their choices:

  • Make a list of the most important criteria. This list should include tuition cost, accessibility, accreditation, acceptance rate, student support, student-to-teacher ratio and other factors students deem crucial to their college journey.
  • Rank the items by importance.
  • Review a list of the best online colleges in Louisiana and make direct comparisons.

From there, students can narrow down their choices to the most relevant criteria. Don’t forget to consider intangibles, such as sports programs, reputation, and the like. Online students may never attend Louisiana State University football game, but they may root alongside LSU fans.

Once students have winnowed down their list to a few select institutions, they can call those college’s admissions advisors to glean additional insight into what college life is like at the university, as well as additional program insights for their prospective major.

The key is to thoroughly review the best online colleges in Louisiana and determine their strengths and weaknesses to find the institution that works best for you.