What Is the Cost of Online Education Vs. Traditional Education?

The cost of online education versus traditional education can vary widely depending on a student's course of study and the educational institution he or she attends. When considering the cost of education, a student must consider the price of textbooks, housing and transportation in addition to tuition and fees.

Tuition Costs for Online Education

Tuition costs for online education programs could vary according to course of instruction and from school to school. For example, Arizona State University reported in January 2014 that its online undergraduate tuition rates were between $460 and $523 per credit hour and were determined by the type of program the student takes. Its graduate tuition rates for online students ranged between $482 and $852 per credit and also varied by program. ASU's online tuition rates included all program fees, while its on-campus students might be charged additional fees depending on which campus they attend and the program of study.

In comparison, other schools might charge online students the same tuition and fees that are paid by those enrolled on campus. An example of this is Auburn University, where the cost for online graduate courses was the same as its on-campus costs. The graduate tuition was $459 per semester hour for in-state residents in Fall 2013. Students with out-of-state residency paid $1,377 per semester hour during that period.

Traditional Education Tuition Costs

The cost of tuition for traditional education varies from college to college. At the University of Wisconsin - Madison, undergraduate tuition cost $484.44 per credit in Spring 2014, while out-of-state students paid $1,161.51. The school also had special rates for Minnesota residents, which were $600.55 per credit.

At Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, a freshman student beginning fall classes in 2013 could expect to pay $428.75 per credit for tuition, while freshmen from out of state paid $1,125.

Additional Expenses

The tuition fees for a traditional education don't include transportation costs, lab fees, housing and textbooks. Room rates at Warner Pacific College, for example, ranged between $1,625 and $8,760 per term for 2013-14, depending on which housing facility the student chose and the number of occupants. Meal plans, also called board, were between $1,245 and $2,375 for the 2013-14 academic year, and the costs depended on the student's housing and year in school.

Both online and traditional education costs include an application fee. A traditional education can include such additional expenses as deposits for housing and student parking fees. Students in both kinds of programs also need money for books and course materials, which can vary widely.

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