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Michigan Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018

Nearly 700,000 students were enrolled in Michigan’s colleges and universities in 2016. About 7 percent, or 49,000 of them completed courses solely online, while another four percent supplemented traditional courses with some online classes. With more than 100 institutions to choose from, prospective students have many opportunities to learn online in Michigan. Read on to begin your search for the perfect online college in Michigan by getting your questions on program types, tuition, financial aid, transfer credits and view our picks for the best accredited online programs in Michigan.

Top Questions from Students

The Online College Landscape in Michigan

From 2010 to 2015, Michigan’s education officials made a strong effort to make online and distance education accessible to more students. In 2006, the State Board of Education implemented a mandate that all high school students complete at least one online course, in order to ensure they are prepared for online classes at the post-secondary level, and as of Fall of 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 10.7 percent of students in degree-seeking post-secondary institutions were enrolled in some online courses, while 7.2 percent of students were completing a degree solely online.

Michigan is home to nearly 100 colleges and universities who include online course offerings or participate in a consortium of online learning. For example, Michigan Colleges Online is a group of the state’s 28 community colleges. MCO’s mission is “to connect the teaching and student support capacity of Michigan community colleges so learners can access affordable, high quality learning experiences whenever and wherever needed.” Traditional colleges like Central Michigan University are on the online bandwagon, too. CMU specifically offers more than 20 online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level.

Tuition in Michigan: Rates & Financial Aid Facts

Tuition for residents of Michigan attending school in-state is always more affordable than for non-residents. To secure in-state-tuition rates, students must be able to provide proof of domicile and physical presence for 12 months before the entry date. Non-residents would pay in the realm of 63 percent higher tuition rates, but out-of-state students may be eligible for good-neighbor programs that provide discounted rates. See below for the average annual tuition costs, and read on for more specific information regarding tuition and financial aid.

In-state tuition: $21,380 four-year public institution

$3,179 – public, two-year institution

Out-of-state tuition: $34,863 – four-year public institution

$6,590 – public, two-year institution

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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

According to the Center for Online Education, the tuition that is owed is entirely dependent on the institution and the degree program. Many state and public institutions charge out-of-state tuition even for an online degree. However, there are many tuition breaks that students can find, too. The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) includes 12 neighboring states that are committed to improving education accessibility: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In this group’s Midwest Student Exchange Program, public universities cannot charge more than 150 percent of in-state tuition for non-residents, as opposed to the up to triple the amount that residents do.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. Check with an admissions or financial officer. Tuition rates are ultimately program- and institution-based. Ask someone from a prospective program about what rates apply to you specifically as a potential member of a specific program.

  • 2. Research additional options. Even a non-resident can earn tuition breaks if they meet certain criteria. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do some research, it could literally pay off.

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How do I find and apply for financial aid in Michigan?

Since 1964, Michigan’s state government has given more than $4 billion in aid to students. The first step in applying for financial aid for any degree program is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).The FAFSA will help potential applicants understand what they’re eligible for and determine eligibility for school-specific financial aid programs.

From there, applicants should look at Michigan Student Aid. The state’s Department of the Treasury’s Student Financial Services Bureau provides equality of access to student financial resources and information. Starting in September 2017, the office started the MI College, MI Future, MI Doorstep program that acts as a hub for scholarship searches, cost comparisons and financial aid presentations. Finally, students should look specifically for institution-specific financial aid. For instance, Michigan State University awarded over 50,000 students financial aid help, totaling more than $1 billion dollars all together in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

There are stipulations to be aware of when applying for and maintaining financial aid. Each scholarship, grant or loan will have different guidelines, so students should take care to understand those that are specific to them. A great first step in figuring out how to qualify for scholarships will be to figure out what qualities set you apart from other students. Applicants may automatically qualify for some programs based on certain qualities: ethnicity/heritage, hardships faced and family history are examples of characteristics that would help a student automatically qualify, as well as some of the requirements listed below:

  • Test scores. Some scholarships have test score minimums for the SAT or ACT. For instance, the Michigan Competitive Scholarship requires a minimum SAT score of 1200.

  • Criminal record. Aspiring students cannot have a history of incarceration on their record if they’re going to apply for most state financial aid programs.

  • Loan Status: For many scholarship programs, applicants must not be in default on a state or federal loan.

  • Max credit loads. Financial aid programs often have load requirements. GEAR UP holds students to a half-time (six credit) minimum, but other programs may require full-time status.

  • Residency. Students must be able to prove residency. The Michigan Tuition Grant requires one year of residency to qualify, and this is a requirement for state-specific grants.

Michigan’s College Scholarships & Grant Options

The state of Michigan Student Financial Services Bureau provides numerous aid programs in addition to the institution-specific opportunities found at each school. Programs like the Tuition Incentive Program helps incentivize kids to complete high school by helping pay tuition for the first two years of college and beyond. Also, each university or college has a financial aid department that awards monies to students, and additionally, individual colleges within the larger university may have scholarships available, too.

How can I find out which grants or scholarships are available to me?

Filling out the FAFSA will help students determine eligibility for additional scholarships, and will also dictate which university-specific programs a student may qualify for. Also identifying the individual characteristics that set students apart from the crowd, such this list of scholarships available on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services site dedicated to minority students. There are often resources available for all types of individuals, including red-heads, vegetarians, left-handed people, athletes and members of professional groups like Future Farmers of America (FFA). Keep in mind that there are national scholarships, as well as non-institution-specific programs that anyone can apply for.

Are there scholarships and grants that only Michigan students can apply for?

Programs found at MI Student Aid are for residents only. The Michigan Tuition Incentive Program is one such program, as is the Children of Veterans Tuition Grant. Other resident-specific programs include the Michigan Tuition Grant and the Fostering Futures Scholarship. Additional programs include Teacher Loan Forgiveness for students who go into teaching careers and GearUp Michigan, which targets three at-risk student populations across the state. CollegeGrants has additional resources, including private scholarships targeted toward everyone from nurses to speech and debate students to Kalamazoo-school graduates.

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The Best Affordable Colleges in Michigan for 2018

Aspiring students in Michigan have a big job sorting through the numerous online degree programs that the state’s colleges and universities offer. How does one choose the best accredited online colleges in Michigan? We have compiled the list below to help, ranking schools based on several factors including affordability, degree types, class size, student support and accreditation. Here, students can find the most affordable online colleges in Michigan. Check out the rankings below to see which schools are best-in-class.

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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 RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI 100.00 $22,100 29 100% 12:143%yes yes yes
2 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI 98.55 $14,472 27 92% 11:142%yes yes yes
3 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 97.97 $11,165 22 79% 20:159%yes yes yes
4 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 97.79 $13,740 5 94% 12:166%no yes yes
5 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI 97.49 $8,244 13 92% 18:138%yes yes yes
6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 97.39 $14,008 7 47% 12:190%no yes yes
7 Marygrove College Detroit, MI 97.13 $19,936 9 94% 8:129%yes yes yes
8 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI 97.13 $24,542 6 100% 20:148%yes yes yes
9 Northwood University-Michigan Midland, MI 97.11 $21,950 9 89% 14:153%yes yes yes
10 Madonna University Livonia, MI 96.90 $17,250 4 86% 10:140%yes yes yes
11 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI 96.69 $23,750 11 99% 11:157%yes no yes
12 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 96.63 $10,556 18 67% 16:149%yes yes yes
13 Cleary University Ann Arbor, MI 96.40 $19,200 13 89% 11:136%yes yes yes
14 Wayne State University Detroit, MI 96.32 $10,995 10 88% 16:132%no yes yes
15 Baker College of Flint Flint, MI 96.30 $8,280 17 82% 19:19%yes yes yes
16 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 96.18 $13,954 15 45% 17:178%no yes yes
17 Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI 96.10 $8,664 7 84% 21:148%yes yes yes
18 University of Michigan-Dearborn Dearborn, MI 95.91 $10,542 11 70% 15:152%no yes yes
19 Grace Bible College Wyoming, MI 95.83 $12,239 3 81% 13:141%yes yes yes
20 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI 95.36 $11,460 5 69% 21:143%no yes yes
21 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 94.58 $9,794 4 53% 17:155%no yes yes
22 University of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI 93.04 $9,276 7 52% 15:138%no no yes
23 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration Troy, MI 89.21 $12,000 7 N/A 12:1N/Ano yes 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 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor, MI 100.00 $3,576 14 9% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Delta College University Center, MI 98.47 $4,407 10 9% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 North Central Michigan College Petoskey, MI 98.08 $4,763 18 16% 16:1N/Ano yes yes
4 Macomb Community College Warren, MI 98.04 $4,340 40 7% 26:1N/Ano yes yes
5 Schoolcraft College Livonia, MI 97.30 $4,050 13 24% 24:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 Kirtland Community College Roscommon, MI 95.81 $4,110 6 17% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 Henry Ford Community College Dearborn, MI 95.62 $3,582 10 1% 20:1N/Ano yes yes
8 Glen Oaks Community College Centreville, MI 95.18 $3,792 3 36% 20:1N/Ano no yes

Find and Compare Online Colleges in Michigan

It can be intimidating to try to sort through online programs and narrow down the contenders, especially if looking for answers just brings up more questions. We’ve put together answers for some of the common questions about online degree programs in Michigan that were asked by other perspective students.

Which schools will take my transfer credits or apply my work experience for credit in Michigan?

More and more universities are giving students college credit for life and work experience, in addition to previous coursework. Below are some examples of schools that offer this type of credit, though it is not complete. Don’t be afraid to explore this option with an admissions office or academic advisor before enrolling. Also, investigate the Michigan Transfer Network, which shows students and advisers the courses equivalent to one another at many of Michigan’s colleges and universities.

Central Michigan University – Earn up to 60 credits ($19,320 of undergraduate savings) for prior learning credit, which can come from work, training, and life experience.

Davenport University – Earn credits with a portfolio that outlines how your life experience has taught you college-level learning. Davenport also participates in the CLEP and gives credit for corporate training.

Michigan State University – Check out the school’s transfer guide to see which credits will transfer from other institutions.

Mid-Michigan Community College – Earn credits for military credit, advanced placement or the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

University of Michigan – Accepts transferable credits when they meet the guidelines outlined in their program.

If I live in Michigan, do I have to choose an online college based in Michigan?

No, students who live in Michigan are not required to search only Michigan for places to earn an online degree. When researching other programs in other states there are a couple of critical factors to consider. See if the school or degree program offers reduced out-of-state tuition. Through good neighbor programs or reciprocity like the Midwest Student Exchange Program, it’s possible that a student can secure discounted tuition rates. If this isn’t a possibility, the student must understand that they’ll pay out-of-state tuition. Other factors to consider in any degree program are accreditation and program quality, this is premium information for any prospective applicant.

What is the best way to find out which of Michigan’s college options are right for me?

Choosing the right degree program is personal, and should be decided by taking into consideration personal preferences. What is most important to an aspiring student? Tuition cost? Student support? Graduation/completion rates? Job placement statistics? These are all factors that influence a person’s commitment to and likelihood of completing a program.