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Best Online Colleges in Washington

Students in Washington pursuing college degrees have a wide range of formats available, especially with the growth of online and hybrid programs in the state. The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), for example, created the Direct Course Sharing program in fall of 2016, which allows member schools to cross-list courses for students to take at other schools – campus or online. Direct Course Sharing replaced the state’s previous Washington Online (WAOL) system and simplified administration by eliminating WAOL IDs and adopting single-payer billing. The latter made it far easier for students to figure out and process all tuition payments and financial aid awards.

At the four-year level, Washington students can pursue online college degrees at one of 26 online-friendly institutions. These schools have full-fledged online platforms to maximum student experience and learning via multimedia and interactive technologies. The University of Washington’s UW Online provides online learning opportunities in ten main areas of study and three separate levels (certificate, bachelor’s, and master’s). For those in Washington thinking about online college outside of the state, Washington belongs to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which promotes resources sharing and, perhaps most importantly, tuition reciprocity across its 16 member states. For Washington residents, whether looking to learn on campus or online, this means paying in-state tuition in 15 states outside of their own.

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number University Score Location Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1. Washington State University 100.00 Pullman, WA $10,874 17 59% 15:1 65% No Yes Yes
2. Heritage University 99.80 Toppenish, WA $18,456 4 100% 7:1 15% Yes Yes Yes
3. Central Washington University 98.83 Ellensburg, WA $7,941 12 65% 20:1 51% No Yes Yes
4. University of Washington-Seattle Campus 98.67 Seattle, WA $11,305 9 35% 20:1 81% No Yes Yes
5. Faith Evangelical College & Seminary 96.29 Tacoma, WA $7,425 5 67% 15:1 83% Yes No Yes
6. City University of Seattle 92.26 Seattle, WA $14,880 22 N/A 12:1 0% Yes Yes Yes
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2-Year Best College Ranking

number University Score Location Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1. Shoreline Community College 100.00 Shoreline, WA $3,427 18 21% 16:1 N/A yes yes yes

In-Depth Look: Online Colleges in Washington

The U.S. Department of Education reports that 39,402 higher education students in Washington enrolled in at least a single online course in 2012. This represents 10.6% of all college students in the state. Just over half of those students took all their coursework fully online that year. Online colleges in Washington continue to offer these students additional learning/life flexibility by removing commutes to campus and, in many cases, allowing them to work at their own pace.

The state of Washington has also expanded financial aid grants to its undergraduate students. The State Need Grant, in the amount of $299 million, stands to help an estimated 69,400 low-income students pay for their college education. To qualify, a student must be at or below 70% of the state’s median family income. Washington’s College Bound Scholarship and State Work Study programs will also help low- and middle-income students during the 2017-18 school year to the tune of $34 million and 22,000 served.

By the Numbers

The U.S. Department of Education’s most recent findings show that 10.6% of Washington state college students enrolled in at least one distance learning course in 2012. Just under 28,000 (7.5%) took all their coursework completely online. Here’s a detailed breakdown of these online students, including their various levels and location of learning (2012).

9/10 were undergraduates
28% of full-time online students lived in WA
35% were enrolled at public, 4-year institutions
18% of 2-year students enrolled in at least one online class