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West Virginia Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2017-2018

Updated on: 12/06/17

Though a relatively small state with a population under two million, West Virginia is home to a surprisingly vigorous higher education community with over 70 postsecondary institutions. What’s more surprising is that West Virginia also boasts a thriving online learning environment. This guide covers how to choose a fully-accredited West Virginia online college or university, the top online schools for 2017-2018 and what financial aid is available.

What students need to know:

How Online Colleges Have Grown in West Virginia

West Virginia is home to nearly 40 colleges and universities offering some level of distance learning education, an impressive number given the state’s size and population. First among the state’s major distance learning providers is the University of West Virginia’s WVU Online program, which offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees, eight certificates and more than 600 courses that can be completed either fully or partially online.

Distance learning programs are also available from the majority of the state’s public two-year colleges. The West Virginia Virtual Learning Network (WVVLN) is the governmental entity in charge of coordinating the online programs and courses offered at the state’s public colleges and universities.

Additionally, a number of private West Virginia postsecondary schools provide online learning options, including the University of Charleston, Wheeling Jesuit University and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Featured Online Colleges

Grand Canyon University

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Southern New Hampshire University

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Kaplan University

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Tuition & Financial Aid for West Virginia Colleges

Whether attending a community college or major university – online or on campus – the price of a college education today is substantial. The tuition costs for any individual student depend on several factors, including the specific school attended, whether the school is public or private and the level of degree or type of certificate program sought.

Average college tuition costs (including related fees) in West Virginia, according to the latest U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education figures (2015-2016), are:

Public 4-year in-state: $6,900

Public 4-year out-of-state: $18,833

Private 4-year in-state or out-of-state: $11,721

Public 2-year in-state: $3,825

Public 2-year out-of-state: $9,077

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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

As the figures listed above show, the differences in West Virginia in-state and out-of-state tuition rates are substantial. However, not all students living outside of West Virginia will have to pay full out-of-state tuition rates to attend a West Virginia online college.

Here’s why. West Virginia is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market, through which students living in 15 regional states pay in-state tuition rates for certain academic programs located within those states, regardless of their particular state of residency. The SREB Academic Common Market Electronic Campus Program provides waivers for out-of-state distance learning programs that meet the following requirements:

  • No public college or university in the student’s home state offers a degree program in his or her chosen field of study.

  • The program is available in another SREB ACM/EC participating state.

  • The program is offered though distance learning.

  • The student is certified as a resident of his or her home state.

  • The student meets all admissions requirements of the college or university offering the program.

Not all academic programs participate in the ACM/EC, and other restrictions may apply as well. Students should contact the programs they’re interested in directly for more information.

The states participating in the SREB Academic Common Market are: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. Residents of West Virginia are eligible for in-state tuition rates for online programs offered by West Virginia public colleges and universities.

  • 2. Out-of-state residents may be eligible for West Virginia in-state tuition rates for certain online programs through the SREB Academic Common Market.

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How do I apply for financial aid in West Virginia?

Whether you’re a West Virginia resident or not, applying for most forms of federal and state student financial aid (scholarships, grants and especially loans) begins by filling out and submitting the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Currently, FAFSA forms are accepted from October 1 through June 30 prior to the academic year being applied for. The best time to submit the FAFSA form is as soon as possible on or after October 1.

Keep in mind that many schools have earlier deadlines to apply for state or institutional financial aid. For example, the application submission deadline for the state-sponsored PROMISE Scholarship program is currently March 1. The submission deadline for the state-sponsored Higher Education Grant program is currently April 15.

Generally speaking, students must continually meet what are known as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) minimums in order to qualify for and maintain their financial aid. Specific SAP requirements vary by school, but usually include a minimum GPA, minimum ratio of credits completed to credits attempted and a maximum time frame for program completion.

For example, SAP requirements for undergraduate and graduate students at West Virginia University include:

  • A maintained minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 for undergraduates, 3.0 for graduates.

  • Successful completion of 67% of all credits hours attempted for undergrads, 70% for grads.

  • Undergraduates must complete their program of study within 150% of the stated timeframe for that program of study. Grad students must complete their program of study within 125% of the stated timeframe for their programs.

Students who fail to maintain SAP minimums will likely lose their financial aid benefits. However, most colleges have established standards and processes for reinstatement of benefits. For example, WVU students who have lost their financial aid due to extenuating circumstances may appeal for aid reinstatement.

West Virginia College Scholarships & Grants

Loans play a crucial role in how most people pay for college. However, many West Virginia students continue to ignore the two other sources available to help pay for their educations: scholarships and grants. The reason? Maybe they believe there simply aren’t any scholarships or grants they’d be eligible for. That’s a big mistake. The truth is that there are literally hundreds of scholarship and grant programs open to West Virginia students of all types – including those pursuing online degrees.

Which scholarships and grants can I apply for?

Scholarships and grants for West Virginia distance learners are offered by wide range of sources, from programs open to students throughout the entire country to programs earmarked for students attending a specific college or enrolled in a specific course of study.

An excellent resource for finding state-specific scholarships and grants is the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV). Here are two important state-sponsored sources:

  • The West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship program open to state resident high school students who meet certain eligibility requirements, including a cumulative 3.0 GPA and minimum SAT and ACT test scores. With the exception of persons entering military service, students must apply for the PROMISE Scholarship within two years of high school graduation.

  • The West Virginia Higher Education Grant is a need-based program for state residents who enroll at an approved postsecondary education institution in either West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Eligibility requirements include demonstrated financial need and academic promise, and enrollment as a full-time undergraduate. Applicants may not have previously earned a bachelor’s degree.

How do I apply for West Virginia scholarships and grants?

Every scholarship and grant program has its own application process, so it’s important to carefully review each one’s specific requirements, paying particular attention to deadlines. Typical application requirements include:

  • Submitting a fully-completed and correct application form;

  • Timely completion and submittal of standardized test scores, such as the SAT and ACT;

  • Providing all required personal, financial and academic information, including high school and previously-attended college transcripts;

  • Obtaining and submitting letters of recommendation;

  • Submitting a written application essay.

Many scholarship and grant programs rely on information provided by FAFSA in making their awards – including the West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship and Higher Education Grant – so students should complete and submit their FAFSA form as soon as possible.

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Best West Virginia Online Colleges: 2018

There are plenty of West Virginia online colleges to choose from. How do you know which are best in particular areas, like the best affordable online colleges in West Virginia or the best accredited online colleges in West Virginia?

Below are our rankings of the best West Virginia online colleges based on a range of factors to help you more quickly find the degree or certificate program that best suits your academic needs.

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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 University of Charleston Charleston, WV 100.00 $18,600 5 80% 14:1 46% yes yes yes
2 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 98.39 $6,960 10 59% 20:1 57% yes yes yes
3 Marshall University Huntington, WV 97.50 $5,450 5 62% 19:1 45% yes yes yes
4 Concord University Athens, WV 95.82 $6,422 4 40% 16:1 36% yes yes yes
5 Fairmont State University Fairmont, WV 95.80 $6,306 5 42% 15:1 34% yes yes yes
6 Bluefield State College Bluefield, WV 95.07 $5,832 3 39% 14:1 18% yes 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 Mountwest Community and Technical College Huntington, WV 100.00 $3,521 4 16% 19:1 N/A yes yes yes
2 West Virginia Northern Community College Wheeling, WV 98.78 $2,664 4 16% 16:1 N/A yes yes yes

Finding the West Virginia Online College for You

Several factors go into finding the right online college. The first step is to decide on a course of study that will help you attain your individual career and personal goals. But that’s just the start. The next step is to research all available online colleges with programs in your area of academic interest. The questions and answers below will help get you going:

Which colleges in West Virginia accept work/life experience and transfer credits?

Most public and private colleges and universities in West Virginia accept transfer credits for coursework completed at other accredited postsecondary institutions in and out of the state. Each college has its own evaluation criteria for transfer credits, so students should always check on whether their credits will be transferable before enrolling in a program at a new school.

As an example, WVU accepts transfer credits earned for college-level courses (i.e., courses that are not developmental, remedial or technical in nature) received from recognized regionally accredited institutions. WVU uses the Transfer Equivalency System (TES) to determine how credits will be transferred from other schools. Credits may transfer in two ways: “Exact equivalents”, where the course taken closely matches one offered at WVU, and “open credits”, where there is no similar course offered at WVU, so credits may be applied in general to the student’s degree program as determined by the particular academic department.

Many West Virginia colleges also award credits for “non-traditional” college-level learning experiences, such as demonstrable workplace training or life experience. Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College offers college credit equivalence for a variety of types of learning and skills, including military training, on-the-job vocational training, personal development and enrichment activities (like hobbies), special licensure and certifications, independent study, course work from non-accredited institutions and more. Credit assessment is determined by Eastern faculty and advisors.

Students interested in finding out more about transfer credits and non-traditional credit awards should contact the registrar’s office at each West Virginia online college under consideration.

If I live in West Virginia, do I need to pick an online college in West Virginia?

No. Most postsecondary distance learning programs are open to otherwise-qualified students regardless of where the program – or the student – is located. That means that West Virginia residents may choose an online college anywhere, inside or outside the state. Remember, though, that tuition costs for an out-of-state based online college program may be substantially higher than for a similar in-state program.

How do I choose a West Virginia online college?

When researching online college and university programs it’s important to keep in mind several important factors, including school reputation, tuition costs, available academic support services, technical course delivery requirements and more. But the most important factor to consider is accreditation. All online colleges and programs discussed in this guide are fully and properly accredited.