Online colleges offer a good way to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees. Earning one of these degrees from an accredited institution will help set you on a promising career path. If you’re ready to pursue higher education but have a limited budget, our list of the cheapest online colleges can help you get started.
Affordable programs are out there for college students to expand their career options. Below is not only a list of the most affordable online colleges, it’s also a deep dive into everything you’ll need to know, like different programs, tuition costs, and tips for navigating the best online colleges.
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One of the main factors when deciding on attending higher education is the price tag that comes along with it, and a hefty price tag indeed. It is common knowledge that not everyone can afford a pricey four-year college education.
Additionally, another factor many consider before enrolling in college is whether they can afford to attend an in-person university. People might not be able to afford relocation costs or dedicate the time it takes to complete a degree. To address both of these issues, we have compiled a list of the best cheap online colleges with computer science programs for you below.
But first, let’s explore why studying online is a viable and affordable option.
How Much Do Online Colleges Cost?
The average cost of the cheapest online colleges ranges from $164 to $399 per credit hour. The number of credit hours will depend on the type of program, level of degree, and whether the prospective student plans to specialize in a certain area.
Cheapest Online College Costs Breakdown
- Technology fee. This fee is charged to improve the services, resources, and platforms offered to students.
- Athletic fee. This fee is charged to guarantee students access to university sporting events and for the use of the gymnasium and other athletic facilities.
- Health fee. Students must pay this fee to become eligible for various on-campus health care services like urgent care, doctor visits, obtaining prescription medication, and more.
- Library services fee. This fee must be paid to gain access to university library services.
- Advising. This fee is charged for the academic advising services offered by the university to its students.
What Are the Cheapest Online Colleges?
The cheapest online colleges include Fort Hays State University, Thomas Edison State University, Oregon State University, Florida International University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, and The University of Texas Permian Basin.
Why You Should Attend an Online College
Online colleges tend to offer most of the same degrees that are offered on campus to ensure that online students receive the same quality education as on-campus students. In addition, the degree options available at affordable colleges online are endless.
The cost of college is one of the most important factors in deciding to pursue a college degree. Online options are a great help in this regard because the online platform means the potential for a greater work-life balance due to the flexibility of the format.
Online Degree Benefits: Why You Should Earn Your Degree Online
A traditional college experience may be attending an in-person university. However, there are many different options for students today, including attending a university online. Traditional education may be in-person, but attending classes online certainly has its benefits.
Those benefits include being able to participate in class anywhere at any time, not commuting to and from class and being able to finish college faster. It may be obvious, but another benefit is the cheaper tuition.
Students can attend classes from anywhere
One of the major draws of online learning is that students can attend their classes anywhere and on their schedule. The school of their dreams is just a click away. Furthermore, students can save money by not having to relocate. The possibilities of online learning are endless.
No travel time
Online learning means that courses are always at the tip of students’ fingertips. Learning can happen anywhere the student may be, so there is no travel time from where they live to where they learn. This is beneficial to students as most online students work part-time or full-time jobs. Time is everything, and not having to spend hours in the car is a valuable asset to online students.
Students can learn at their own pace
Often, online learning allows students to complete courses at their own pace. As everyone has a different learning style, many students can succeed in this style of independent learning. Furthermore, since they can go at their own pace, many students can graduate sooner than those who attend in-person courses.
Best Career Options
Online college degrees have become nearly as accepted as in-person degree programs are. As a result, there are many careers you can effectively pursue with an online college education. Some of these include business administration, project management, human resources, healthcare management, and other health services.
Online College Salary
Online college graduates can obtain very promising careers. Petroleum engineers earn an average salary of $137,330, industrial engineers earn an average salary of 88,950, computer programmers earn 89,190, and public accountants earn $73,560. All of these careers can be pursued through the completion of online college.
Students can finish their education faster
One of the best perks of online colleges is that students may be able to complete their education much more quickly than at a traditional university. Students may be able to finish their degree in only a year compared to four years since they can learn at their own pace. Furthermore, the lack of travel time means that more time is spent learning. More time spent learning means a quicker entry into the tech world, and that is a win-win for everyone.
Simply, online education can be much cheaper than the in-person option. Students save on housing costs, relocation costs and commuting costs. Additionally, since students are working virtually, not as many textbooks are usually required each semester. Tuition rates are also sometimes cheaper as the college runs the program completely online without the need for physical infrastructure.
Can You Attend Online Colleges for Free?
Yes, eligible students can attend online colleges for free. While colleges aren’t usually free, there are many payment arrangements that can cover the cost of tuition, including tuition reimbursement, financial aid, grants, and scholarships.
Cheapest Online Colleges That Won’t Break the Bank
|School||In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||Graduation Rate|
|Fort Hays State University||$227 per credit hour||$227 per credit hour||57%|
|Thomas Edison State University||$399 per credit hour||$519 per credit hour||48%|
|Oregon State University||$241-$527 per credit hour||$241-$527 per credit hour||64%|
|Florida International University||$343 per credit hour||$460 per credit hour||80%|
|Brigham Young University – Idaho||$164 per credit hour||$164 per credit hour||52%|
|The University of Texas Permian Basin||$9,799 per year||$9,799 per year||58%|
|Western Governors University||$7,290 per year||$7,290 per year||47%|
|Amridge University||$375 per semester hour||$375 per semester hour||25%|
|Clayton State University||$351 per credit hour||$351 per credit hour||31%|
|Valdosta State University||$182 per credit hour||$182 per credit hour||40%|
Cheapest Online Colleges Explained
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is lauded for its affordable tuition, as US News & World Report ranks it as a top online college. This university offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in popular careers like criminal justice, business administration, and political science, among others. It also offers financial assistance to prospective students.
Thomas Edison State University
Thomas Edison State University offers a wide variety of affordable degree programs, from certificate and associate degree programs to bachelor’s and graduate degree programs. All of its courses can be completed entirely online. The university also offers financial aid and scholarships to online students.
Oregon State University
School rankings by US News & World Report reveal that Oregon State University has the fifth-best bachelor’s degree programs in the nation. The university has received top recognition for eight consecutive years. It offers more than 90 online degree programs, including degrees in business administration, social sciences, criminal justice, and teaching.
Florida International University
Florida International University has 20 years of experience in online education. This university offers online degrees and certificate programs, including 16 engineering paths to choose from. Programs also include a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education, and hospitality management and human resource management degree programs.
Brigham Young University – Idaho
Brigham Young University – Idaho offers affordable online programs in business, technology, health, communication, family, and professional and interdisciplinary studies. This non-profit university is among the private schools owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It offers some scholarships and reduced tuition for online students, as well as financial aid.
The University of Texas Permian Basin
The University of Texas Permian Basin offers online undergraduate programs to online students from all over the world. The university also offers graduate programs and certificate programs. Popular programs include special education, criminal justice administration, and healthcare management, among others. The university offers financial aid and scholarships.
Western Governors University
Western Governors University offers online college degree programs at its six affiliated online schools. The university is among several private schools to offer undergraduate degrees in the areas of teaching, sports management, business management, IT, and health and nursing. This university offers financial aid and scholarship options to its prospective students.
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Amridge University is a private Christian university with affordable online programs. Students can qualify for federal financial aid, scholarships, and incentive discounts. The school offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in the College of General Studies, College of Business & Leadership, the School of Education and Human Services, and the Turner School of Theology.
Clayton State University
Clayton State University is a public college that offers small class sizes geared toward adult learners because of the personalized attention. Online classes are available for associate degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs, and master’s degree programs in business administration, interdisciplinary studies, criminal justice, accounting, marketing, and more.
Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University (VSU) is a public university that offers programs such as health sciences, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, criminal justice, and others in the areas of arts and design, project management, education, and technology. VSU offers affordable undergraduate tuition and scholarships and waives application fees for veterans and military service members.
Options to Help Pay for the Best Online College
There are several options to choose from while considering how to pay for a degree from an online institution. Below, we list a few of the most popular options.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to help pay for your college degree because this is money awarded that does not need to be repaid. Each college and area of study offers a variety of scholarships.
Work-study programs are intended to help pay for the education of students with financial needs. The programs provide students with part-time jobs while they’re in school, and the money they earn at those jobs helps to offset the cost of tuition.
There are different types of federal student loans offered by the federal student aid program. Direct loans available are subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and consolidation. Each student loan must be repaid with interest.
Tips for Saving Money While Attending Online College
- Funds for books. Students eligible for financial aid can obtain a book advance to purchase the books and supplies needed to begin the semester. This is not a separate fund, it is taken from the total financial aid granted.
- Transfer credits. Transfer students have the option to transfer the courses they have previously taken to another college or university in the form of credits. This saves you the hassle of having to retake courses.
- Buy digital books. Undergraduate students need several books per semester, and a good way to reduce this cost is to purchase digital books.
- Reduce living expenses. Although online colleges eliminate the need to pay for on-campus rooms, undergraduate students can save on other expenses such as utilities, transportation, and entertainment by sharing living space with one or more roommates.
- State residency. College tuition for in-state residents varies drastically, but it is often much cheaper to attend school in the state of primary residence compared to an out-of-state school. Public schools are also more affordable than private schools.
How to Choose the Best Online College
Now with a list of the best cheap online colleges in hand for computer science degrees, let’s explore how you should go about choosing the right option for you.
Cost is undoubtedly one of the main factors when deciding upon the best online school to attend. An affordable school can make or break the decision to participate in higher education.
However, there are several other factors to consider, including who will be teaching the courses, the accreditation of the university and the curriculum of the program. Below are a few more aspects to consider before enrollment.
Researching who will be teaching the online courses is essential. These are the people who will be setting the stage for your potential career in the tech industry upon graduation. The best educational experience will be a direct result of exceptional teachers. Make sure that the faculty at your prospective university is certified and licensed. Furthermore, teachers with real-world experience are even better. They have first-hand expertise in the field and that is priceless.
Another imperative detail to research is whether your prospective university is accredited. When applying for jobs in the tech industry, employers won’t give a resume that doesn’t have an accredited university a second look. Therefore, it is vital to research the credentials of a university before enrollment.
Of course, classes should not be overlooked when researching a potential university. However, it’s essential to look at the concentrations being offered as well as the minors of the computer science program. Some programs will require certain minors to accompany them. Furthermore, specific programs require prerequisites that might include ACT or SAT scores, verified transcripts and sometimes prior coursework.
Tuition goes hand-in-hand with financial assistance. While the college’s programs listed above are some of the best in terms of budget for online colleges, there is always the opportunity to make them even cheaper with financial aid. Many universities and programs will offer financial assistance to students. It is best to explore all of the potential options available.
Graduation, Career Services and Job Placement
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should consider graduation rates, career services and job placement opportunities. Consider where graduates of the computer science program end up in their careers; for instance, what companies they work for. Furthermore, research the career services available through the program.
Many online programs will still offer networking opportunities and job placement services. The alumni of the program are strong references to consider reaching out to as they will reflect the program’s success rate. Moreover, employers who work with impressive alumni of the program will want to recruit from the same program again.
Find the Online College That’s Right for You
When doing your school search, you should know that online universities currently offer most of the same programs that are provided to its on-campus counterparts. An online degree program can lead you to high-quality education and be an affordable option that provides greater flexibility for those who need to balance work and study.
Bonus: The Best Cheap Online Colleges for Computer Science Programs
The University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida, is home to one of the most affordable online computer science degrees, with a net price of $9,009. Business intelligence analysts, computer programmers, database administrators and information systems developers are all careers that University of Florida computer science graduates fulfill.
Furthermore, countless graduates of the program go on to get their master’s degree as well. Geometry and calculus must be taken before being accepted into the program as well as already having earned 12-59 credits. Lastly, 88 percent of students will receive financial aid and the graduation rate is 87 percent. The University of Florida is an accredited university.
Dakota State University
Dakota State University is another one of the best budget online colleges. Its online computer science program covers parallel computing, assembly language and structured systems analysis. Moreover, this program offers a unique online experience of joining clubs such as the computer club and the gaming club.
The average tuition for the program is $4,319. Still, the college offers scholarships, including the computer science scholarship, and grant opportunities to make education even more affordable to potential students. Moreover, 74 percent of students receive financial aid from the school. The school likes to provide students with smaller, more intimate classes. Finally, Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of West Florida
Students can earn a multidisciplinary online computer science degree from the University of West Florida without breaking the bank. Some of the program’s courses include theory of computation, linear algebra and database systems. The program offers students the choice of several different concentrations, one being cybersecurity. Additionally, students can choose to minor in computer information systems or information technology.
Tuition is $4,319 and 72 percent of students receive financial aid. The institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Georgia Southwestern State University
Technical communication, systems analysis, programming practice, information assurance and security, programming and information technology project management are all covered in the 120-credit hour online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree at Georgia Southwestern State University. Students looking to apply to the school will need to take either the ACT or SAT and pass with one of the schools required grades.
Students can look forward to intimate classes with one teacher for every 17 students. The tuition for an undergraduate program is $199 per credit hour or around $15,802. Georgia Southwestern State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is another one of the best budget colleges on the list. Students can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Fort Hays State University. The university is located in Hays, Kansas, but students will log on remotely for their 120-credit hour program that includes software engineering, assembly language, programming and data structures.
Students looking to enroll in the program will need official transcripts. Finally, the tuition comes in at $14,426 or around $218 per credit. FHSU is an accredited university.
University of Massachusetts- Lowell
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell offers an online computer science program that requires 120 to 121 credit hours per degree. Potential students who enroll in the program will have to choose an online concentration for the computer science degree. Online concentrations for this degree include bio-cheminformatics and data science.
Students who decide to pursue an online computer science degree will have to minor in mathematics. A BS/MS in computer science can be completed in five years. The tuition rate is $10,440, with an impressive 86 percent of students receiving financial aid. The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Central Washington University
Receive an online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Administrative Management degree from the Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. The degree program offers concentrations in administrative management, cybersecurity, FlexIT/computing-based retail/management, and technology or administrative management, project management, and retail management and technology.
The credit rate is $230 per hour or $22,010 in total. Additionally, students who wish to enroll at Central Washington University will need to take either the ACT or the SAT. Classes average 19 students per teacher. Also, the school is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Limestone College, located in Gaffney, South Carolina, offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Programming online. The online computer science program features a curriculum including microcomputer applications, operating systems, networking fundamentals, analysis and design, and project management.
Students enrolling in the program will need to have either taken the SAT or the ACT. The tuition rate is $243 per credit hour or $23,900 in total. This college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Colorado Technical University
The Colorado Technical University is an affordable online college option with a 183-credit hour program for an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree. Courses for the program teach principles of programming languages, foundations of Big Data Analysis and security risk management, to name a few.
Students looking to apply to the computer science program will need official transcripts. The tuition rate is $325 per credit hour or an inexpensive $10,540 in total. Colorado Technical University is Higher Learning Commission accredited.
Lamar University is another one of the affordable online colleges on the list of cheap online programs. Lamar University offers students an online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree. Students can expect courses in computer game development, programming fundamentals, microcomputers and computer law/ethics, to name a few.
Students looking to join the 121-hour program will need official transcripts and to have taken either SAT or ACT. Lamar University is an accredited university through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Cheapest Online College FAQ
The cheapest way to attend college is to pursue an online program. Among those, the cheapest online bachelor’s degree programs are offered by Brigham Young University – Idaho, whose tuition is $164 per credit hour.
Yes, most online college programs are more affordable than on-campus programs, as many costs are eliminated. Specifically, a community college or public school that offers online schooling is much more affordable than a private university.
In general, you can pay less for college by applying for scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. These tuition discounts are options most online institutions offer.
In addition to filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), there are other options you can consider to pay for your online degree, such as scholarships. You can apply for different types of scholarships, such as private scholarships and merit scholarships. Many employers also offer tuition reimbursement programs to offset fees at online schools.
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