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

The cost of tuition can be one of the most decisive factors for a potential student to decide where to attend school. Outlined below are the differences between tuition costs for an online education versus traditional education.

Tuition Cost Overview

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.

Important Facts About Online and Traditional Education Programs

Prerequisites Varies, depending upon institution and program; most bachelor degree programs require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Concentrations Political science, operations management, psychology, nursing, mathematics, information technologies, history, geosciences, business administration
Possible Careers Teacher, cost estimator, computer systems analyst, graphic designer, actuary, broadcast news analyst, engineer, compliance officer
Continuing Education Certification or licensure requirement depends upon the chosen occupation; high school teachers must be licensed or certified to teach in all states

Tuition Costs for Online Education

Tuition costs for online education programs vary according to course of instruction and from school to school. For example, Arizona State University reported in February 2016 that its online undergraduate tuition rates were between $490 and $553 per credit hour and were determined by the type of program the student takes. Its graduate tuition rates for online students ranged between $492 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 base cost for online graduate courses was the same as its on-campus costs. The graduate tuition was $489 per semester hour for in-state residents in Fall 2015. Students with out-of-state residency paid $1,467 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 $480.74 per credit in Spring 2016, while out-of-state students paid $1,282.81. The school also had special rates for Minnesota residents, which were $604.35 per credit.

At Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, a freshman student beginning fall classes in 2015 could expect to pay $13,612 for tuition, while freshmen from out-of-state paid $36,412.

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 $1,735 and $9,360 per term for 2015-16, depending on which housing facility the student chose and the number of occupants. Meal plans, also called board, were between $1,335 and $2,545 for the 2015-16 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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