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Rhode Island Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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When it comes to choosing an online college in Rhode Island, there are a number of things to consider. Two big factors to think about are cost and financial aid, but it doesn’t stop there. In this guide, you’ll find information about tuition rates in Rhode Island, how to choose an online college, transfer credit policies and a list of the top accredited colleges in the state. Keep reading to get one step closer to the online program that’s right for you.

Best Online Colleges in Rhode Island: 2018

Trying to decide which of the best accredited online colleges in Rhode Island to attend? That process can be made a little bit easier with the following list. It looks at a number of metrics, such as a school’s cost, graduation rate and placement services, to help you choose the best school for your unique needs and situation. For instance, if cost is a major consideration, you’ll want to focus on a school’s tuition rate and then pick among the best affordable online colleges in Rhode Island that also provide you the academic offerings you need.

  • 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 Johnson & Wales University-Online Providence, RI 100.00 $18,252 3 N/A 16:1N/Ano yes no

Growth of Online Colleges in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is one of the smallest states in the country, but is still home to over 10 accredited colleges and universities. Many of these colleges, such as Brown University, offer several online courses. Others offer full online degree programs. For example, University of Rhode Island offers nine online degree programs and certificates . Then there’s the New England Institute of Technology, which lets students choose from four bachelor’s degrees and four master’s programs, all online . Even historical institutions like the U.S. Naval War College offers courses online through its Online Professional Military Education Navy eLearning program.

Tuition Rates

Determining the tuition students must pay to attend an online college in Rhode Island will depend on a number of variables, such as the school, program and state of residency.

At some schools, online students will pay an in-state, regional or out-of-state tuition rate, depending on their state of residency. At other schools, each online program has its own online tuition rate that all students pay, regardless of residency. To qualify for in-state tuition residency status, a student must:

  1. Be an emancipated student whose parents (or guardians), at the time of emancipation, were Rhode Island residents for at least one year prior to the emancipated student’s enrollment in class, or
  2. Be an emancipated student who has established Rhode Island residency for at least one year prior to enrollment in class, or
  3. Be an un-emancipated student whose parents (or guardians) have been Rhode Island residents for at least one year prior to the student’s enrollment in class.

Below you can find the average tuition rates for various types of Rhode Island colleges and universities.

In-state tuition (public, 4-year institution): $11,321

Out-of-state tuition (public, 4-year institution): $27,967

In-state tuition (public, 2-year institution): $4,266

Out-of-state tuition (public, 2-year institution): $11,496

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Explore Online Degree Programs in Rhode Island

As an online student, will I have to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

Online students can pay one of four tuition rates. There’s the in-state tuition rate for Rhode Island residents. There’s the out-of-state tuition rate for students who are out-of-state residents and do not qualify for the New England Board of Higher Education’s Tuition Break Program . There’s the discounted tuition rate for students who do qualify for the Tuition Break Program. And finally, there’s the online tuition rate that specific programs charge all online students, regardless of state residency.

The Tuition Break Program allows students of six New England States – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont – to pay a reduced out-of-state tuition rate when attending a participating school. The one catch is that students must study a major that’s not offered by any school in their home state.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.Rhode Island students taking online classes will pay a tuition rate based on their state of residency, except in situations where their specific online program has a set online tuition rate for all students.

  • 2.Rhode Island is a member of the New England Board of Higher Education’s Tuition Break Program, which provides reduced out-of-state tuition rates for students from member states who choose a major not currently offered in any of their home state’s colleges.

Explore Online Degree Programs in Rhode Island

How do I qualify for financial aid?

As is the case with most other states, students looking for financial aid to help pay for college should begin with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This is the official application for requesting federal financial aid. Rhode Island state-based aid, as well as many private and school sponsored financial aid awards, also rely on the FAFSA. Because of limited funding, the sooner the student completes and submits the FAFSA, the better. October 1 (the fall before college enrollment) is the earliest the FAFSA may be submitted. If students wait too long to apply, they may miss out on financial aid packages offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must also attend an accredited college in order to qualify.

A great overview of the financial aid process for Rhode Island students can be found at Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.

Rhode Island colleges that administer federal financial aid must have a policy in place that requires students to maintain a certain level of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to continue receiving funds. Each school may have its own SAP policy, but its requirements must be at least as stringent as federal guidelines, which are as follows:

  • GPA

    Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum of a 2.00 cumulative GPA. At some schools, the minimum may be lower if students are taking only a few courses.

  • Completion rate

    Students must complete at least two-thirds of the classes they enroll in. In other words, if a student registers for 15 credits, they must complete at least 10 of them.

  • Timeframe of completion

    Students may only register for up to 150% of the number of credits needed to receive their degree. For example, if a student needs 120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degree, they must finish the degree in no more than 180 credits.

Grants & Scholarships

Rhode Island is committed to making higher education accessible for everyone. Students who attend an accredited college and meet specified requirements are eligible to receive the widest selection of financial aid awards, including scholarships and grants. But Rhode Island students have another great perk – they have an opportunity to receive two years of free college education through the Rhode Island Promise.

Are there specific scholarships and grants available for Rhode Island students?

Rhode Island students can apply for several categories of scholarships and grants. There are institutional scholarships, which are only offered by specific colleges, as well as private scholarships via entities like corporations and charitable organizations. Students can also apply for federal Pell Grants, which is awarded primarily on financial need.

Finally, there are state-based grants, most notable being the Rhode Island Promise. This program is available to Rhode Island residents who have a high school diploma (or GED), attend an approved school (Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island or Rhode Island College) and are working toward an undergraduate degree. The Rhode Island Promise pays for two years of college, so students can earn an associate degree for free or knock out general education courses to go towards a four-year bachelor’s degree. This is a “last-dollar” scholarship, meaning it only kicks in after the student has exhausted other financial aid options. To keep this financial aid award, students must maintain a 2.50 GPA.

For a list of hundreds of scholarships tailored to Rhode Island students, visit the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.

What are the requirements for Rhode Island Scholarships?

The first requirement is typically completing the FAFSA. This is needed not just for many private and school sponsored scholarships and grants, but also to apply for the Rhode Island Promise scholarship. In addition to the FAFSA, many grants and scholarships will have additional requirements, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts and essays.

Students need to ensure they carefully read the scholarship’s application instructions and start on the applications as soon as possible. Not only does turning in the application sooner increase the chances of receiving an award, but it also provides plenty of time to carefully craft an application essay and gives people enough time to write a meaningful letter of recommendation.

Explore Online Degree Programs in Rhode Island

How to Find an Online College in Rhode Island

Trying to find the right online college or university in Rhode Island? You’re going to have plenty of questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Does work/life experience count towards an online degree? What about past credits from another school?

There are three ways Rhode Island students can receive transfer credit.

First, they can get it the traditional way – through previous college-level coursework. Most Rhode Island schools allow for this.

Second, veterans can apply prior military coursework and training toward college credit in accordance with standards set forth by the American Council on Education. TheCommunity College of Rhode Island is one such school that offers college credit for military experience.

Third, prior work experience is also acceptable for college credit. One school that allows past work experience for college credit is the New England Institute of Technology . Transfer credit is given on a case-by-case basis, with students submitting verifiable documentation that shows the work experience resulted in learning college-level skills and knowledge.

Do I need to choose an online college in Rhode Island if I’m a Rhode Island resident?

Living in Rhode Island doesn’t limit you to Rhode Island colleges. You can apply and attend any school in the country. However, you may not be able to take advantage of in-state tuition rates.

How do I pick an online college in Rhode Island?

The process of selecting a college will be based on your reasons to attend college. If you want to obtain a particular degree, you’ll probably choose an online college based on their program offerings. On the other hand, if you’re flexible in your area of college study, you may give cost of attendance greater consideration.

The most important factor to keep in mind when picking a college in Rhode Island is to choose a college that is accredited. This will ensure that you are eligible for financial aid – as long as you meet all other requirements – and also ensures the degree you earn will be recognized and accepted by employers.