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Nebraska Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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Schools in Nebraska have a broad selection of distance or online learning choices. Just as significantly, prospective students have dozens of financial aid and scholarship opportunities. This guide was designed to help prospective students learn more about Nebraska’s online program options and can find the tools necessary to select and pay for the best school for their needs. We have also analyzed and ranked Nebraska’s online colleges and universities to help you narrow down the college search.

Nebraska’s Best Online Colleges for Affordability, 2018

Using in-depth analysis of over a dozen data points, we have created a list of the best affordable online colleges in Nebraska. We considered essential factors such as student-to-teacher ratios, tuition fees, variety of courses and resources available to students. The following ranks the best accredited online colleges in Nebraska, and includes vital information that will help students select the best program for their career goals and their budgets.

  • 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 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 100.00 $6,480 13 69% 21:167%no yes yes
2 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE 99.98 $6,000 52 65% 31:139%yes no yes
3 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE 99.78 $5,235 13 66% 14:153%no yes yes
4 Chadron State College Chadron, NE 99.74 $4,200 18 64% 20:133%yes yes yes
5 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 99.51 $5,312 19 51% 16:142%yes yes yes
6 York College York, NE 99.11 $15,680 5 100% 14:131%no yes yes
7 Clarkson College Omaha, NE 98.81 $11,016 9 68% 13:146%yes yes yes
8 Peru State College Peru, NE 98.62 $4,200 7 69% 21:140%yes yes yes
9 Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha, NE 97.80 $12,984 12 81% 12:168%no no yes
10 Wayne State College Wayne, NE 95.41 $4,200 5 25% 18:146%no yes yes
11 University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 90.33 $8,736 7 N/A 3:1N/Ayes 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 Western Nebraska Community College Scottsbluff, NE 100.00 $2,100 7 65% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Southeast Community College Area Lincoln, NE 97.06 $2,633 8 59% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 Mid-Plains Community College North Platte, NE 97.04 $2,370 12 68% 9:1N/Ano no yes
4 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE 97.04 $2,475 18 34% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Metropolitan Community College Area Omaha, NE 96.73 $2,385 21 28% 15:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 Nebraska Indian Community College Macy, NE 95.97 $4,080 7 77% 6:1N/Ayes no yes

Online Options for College in Nebraska

Online programs have expanded in size, reach and type with an increasing number of students enrolling to earn both credits and degrees online. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ report on online education trends, in Nebraska nearly 17% of students enrolled in postsecondary schools were taking exclusively online courses and more than 15% additional students were taking both online and on-campus courses in 2016. This increased demand for online learning has resulted in more online opportunities for students. For example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has online programs for undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and certificates that span a wide range of subjects and fields of study.

Tuition: Rates and Financial Aid in Nebraska

In-state and out-of-state are the two types of tuition offered by colleges and universities. In-state is the tuition type paid by students who are legal residents of the same state the university is based in; out-of-state tuition is what students who live in a different state than their school pay. As a general rule, in-state tuition is lower than out-of-state tuition. Nebraska is no exception: the average out-of-state tuition for public schools was more than twice the amount of in-state tuition for 2015-2016.

Students who are not residents of Nebraska can qualify for in-state tuition by going through the somewhat complex process of becoming legal residents. Alternatively, students from other midwestern states may qualify for a significantly reduced out-of-state tuition through the Midwest Student Exchange Program.

In-state tuition: $7,446

Out-of-state tuition: $18,651

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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How do I know whether I’d pay in-state or out-of-state tuition for online college classes in Nebraska?

Prospective students who are residents of Nebraska are eligible for in-state tuition rates at Nebraska-based online schools. Students who are not residents of Nebraska pay the out-of-state tuition costs. This is true for students attending a school on-campus as well as for students attending online. Out-of-state students can qualify for in-state tuition levels if they become residents of Nebraska. However, this process (as outlined by the University of Nebraska’s Residency Determination) includes residing in Nebraska for twelve months without applying to or attending a university course, working in Nebraska, filing income taxes in Nebraska, registering to vote in Nebraska and more.

Students can pay a significantly reduced out-of-state tuition rate if the school they attend is a member of the Midwest Student Exchange Program. In order to receive this lowered tuition rate, the student must be a resident of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio or Wisconsin. Not all programs are eligible, but students who are able to take advantage may have their tuition reduced by as much as $5,000 per year.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. In-state tuition is reserved for Nebraska residents and is less than half the price of out-of-state tuition.

  • 2. Out-of-state students from midwestern states can save money through the Midwest Student Exchange Program.

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Where can I get information on applying for financial aid in Nebraska?

Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education has a wide variety of resources for students interested in attending college in Nebraska, including a guide about the financial aid process. The first step to receiving financial aid is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for federal aid such as the Pell Grant and some state-level financial aid programs, like the Nebraska Opportunity Grant, also review the FAFSA to determine eligibility. Applicants to programs in Nebraska should submit their FAFSAs by the end of June. State-level financial aid is generally only available to residents of Nebraska, but federal aid can be granted to most United States citizens regardless of state of residency. Paragraph detailing basics, like applying for FAFSA, deadlines, residency considerations, etc. Link sources where applicable.

Nebraska offers three financial aid programs to residents: the Access College Early (ACE) Scholarship Program, the Nebraska Opportunity Grant and the Community College Gap Assistance Program. The ACE program helps high school students attend dual enrollment programs and the Gap Program targets students enrolled in non-credit courses. For Nebraskans applying to degree programs, the need-based Nebraska Opportunity Grant will likely be the most helpful.

  • Average annual award amount

    $1,225.27 for the 2015-2016 school year

  • Number of grants awarded

    Over 13,000 for the 2015-2016 school year

  • Renewable

    Yes; requirements for renewal may vary by college or program

  • Application process

    FAFSA; certain colleges may have additional application forms

Applying for College Scholarships & Grants in Nebraska

Thousands of scholarships are available in Nebraska and can be used to help students bridge tuition funding gaps left after federal and state financial aid is applied. Scholarships and awards come from a variety of sources, from colleges themselves to community organizations. In addition to Nebraska-specific scholarships, there are plenty of scholarships offered nationally.

How do I know which grants and scholarships I am eligible to apply for?

Reputable scholarship search engines such as Fastweb and Scholarships.com are excellent places to start a scholarship and grant search. These websites often allow users to create profiles that then allow the engine to match users with only the scholarships they may be eligible for.

Another place to find scholarships are the colleges and programs themselves. For example, the metropolitan University of Nebraska Omaha has hundreds of both need-based and merit-based scholarships and grants. Even smaller schools offer a variety of scholarships; Nebraska’s Peru State College has nearly 20 scholarships available to new applicants and returning students.

Finally, third party scholarships can also be used to fund significant portions of tuition and other financial needs. Students can often find scholarships available through special-interest organizations with a membership and mission similar to the student’s identity and goals. For example, students with learning disabilities can apply for the Rise Scholarship. Field-specific grants and awards are also available, such as scholarships for women in STEM.

Where can I find scholarships and grants that are exclusive to Nebraska?

Nebraska-specific scholarships are offered by a variety of sources, from the state government to colleges to community organizations. The Lincoln Community Foundation has over 70 scholarships available, all of them privately funded. There’s also the ScholarshipQuest search engine offered by EducationQuest which includes over 2,000 Nebraska-specific scholarships. Other scholarship search engines that allow users to create profiles can also bring up Nebraska-specific scholarships.

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Choosing Between Nebraska’s Online Colleges

Selecting an online program can feel like a momentous task, but it important to know what’s involved in picking and paying for an online college in Nebraska. Both new students and those who have some collegiate coursework under their belts can find answers here. Take a look at some of these frequently asked questions about the variety of resources available, and how to assess and pick the online schools in Nebraska that will be the best fit for you.

How can I find which schools in Nebraska will take my work experience and/or transfer credits?

How credits and experience will transfer to a school depends on a variety of factors; transfer admission offices will consider things such as a student’s progress on their degree or certificate, if the school has comparable courses, the grades a student received in the courses and whether the original course was taught at an institution with an accreditation the school accepts. All of these aspects of credit and experience transfers vary depending on the student and the schools involved, so there is unfortunately no one sure answer for how and if credits will transfer.

However, postsecondary schools in Nebraska are working together to minimize the uncertainty students face when applying to transfer from one institution to another. This joint project is called Transfer Nebraska and is the product of the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Tribal and Community Colleges and the Nebraska State College System. While Transfer Nebraska targets students transferring between schools in Nebraska, it can also provide answers and guidance for out-of-state students. This project includes vast catalogues of courses and how they can possibly transfer as well as a directory of transfer, registrar and admission departments of Nebraska schools.

I live in Nebraska; do I have to attend an online school that’s based in my state?

One of the greatest advantages of online education is students’ abilities to attend classes with little or no physical connection to the campus. This means that Nebraska students can attend online programs in different states than Nebraska. However, students will likely pay the higher out-of-state tuition rate unless the school they attend is a participating institution from a Midwestern Higher Education Compact state. These states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Through the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, students in member states can attend public institutions based in other member states at a reduced tuition rate.

Students interested in attending online programs outside of Nebraska should make sure that the schools they are considering are accredited and allowed to operate in Nebraska. The school and Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education will be able to provide students with this information.

Are there resources to compare Nebraska schools to find which online programs would be best for me?

Our rankings list above can give prospective students a good idea of how Nebraska’s online colleges and programs compare. However, in addition to the information offered here, the Open Education Database has a list of online colleges in Nebraska. Students can use our resources and others like the Open Education Database to compare schools and programs.