How Much Do Online Colleges Typically Cost?

There are various costs involved with attending an online college and many things to consider when estimating the overall cost of your education. Keep reading for more information.

Overview of Online College Costs

The cost for attending an online college will vary depending on the school and program. According to U.S. News & World Report (USNWR), online program costs can be determined by a number of factors. For example, some online programs award credit for life experience or previous college coursework, thereby relieving you of certain credit hours you might otherwise have to pay for in a traditional school ( On the other hand, USNWR reported a survey from Babson Survey Research Group found that traditional sources of funding for college, such as scholarships, are less likely to be available to online students.

Important Facts About Online Schools

Prerequisites Varies, depending upon intended program of enrollment; associate's and bachelor's degree programs typically require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Common Courses English, social sciences, behavioral sciences, fine arts, humanities
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Concentrations History, accounting, sociology, business administration, human service, health sciences, geosciences, information technologies, history, operations management
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available


The Babson survey also found that tuition and fees for online students are usually the same as for on-campus students. Schools may have different methods of charging tuition which, while not affecting the total costs, can affect the amount of money you pay at any given time. Traditionally, attending an out-of-state college costs more than attending an in-state school. This is not always the case, but it is something to consider when trying to determine the overall cost of going to school.

Additional Costs

When you attend an online college, you are not just charged tuition. Extra costs and fees can add up and increase the overall cost of an online education. You will need to have access to a computer with an Internet connection. You may also be charged extra for shipping your books to your home and for software programs that you need for certain classes.

Benefits That Offset Costs

Despite the additional costs associated with attending an online college, you may actually save money in the long term due to other aspects of this type of course delivery. Going to college online allows you to have more control over the indirect costs associated with college. For example, online education is administered on a flexible schedule, allowing you to continue working while attending classes instead of having to cut back your work hours or stop working completely. You can also save money by not having to commute back and forth to the campus for classes.

If you're lucky enough to be able to live with your parents, you may be able to save a substantial amount of money by avoiding a dorm or other expensive on-campus housing. According to the College Board, in 2016, the average expenses for room and board for full-time, undergraduate students at a 4-year public college for the 2015-2016 school year were $19,548; non-profit private colleges charged over twice that amount (

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