How Much Does an Online College Education Cost?

Earning your college degree online will cost you as much as, if not more than, a traditional college education. Online education costs vary due to the type of college chosen or the courses in which you enroll. Read below for specifics on cost breakdowns and trends in getting a college education online.

What is the Tuition for Online Education?

Online education offers a great way to brush up on your skills through single courses, associate's, bachelor's or master's degree programs. The cost of getting a college education online varies depending on the type of degree you are looking for and the type of school you choose to attend.

U.S. News & World Report provided figures for the costs of online, public colleges for out-of-state students in January 2016. It reported that an incoming freshman college student at the eleven least expense schools could expect to pay an average of $24,593 for a 4-year degree. The most expensive 4-year degree program reported was at Central Washington University. The cost was $118,260. The lowest cost out-of-state bachelor's program was offered for $20,640 at Valley City State University in North Dakota.

Important Facts About Online Education

Common Courses English, mathematics, fine arts, social sciences, behavioral sciences
Prerequisites Associate's and bachelor's degrees typically require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Concentrations Criminal justice, sociology, psychology, information technologies, business administration, graphic design and media arts
Possible Careers Teacher, budget analyst, interior designer, graphic designer, construction manager, software developer

How is the Cost for Online College Education Determined?

If you want to pursue your education online, you will most likely be charged per credit or credit hour. Prices per credit hour will depend on if the course is a lower-division or upper-division class. Graduate courses tend to cost more than their undergraduate counterparts. Online education cost may also be subject to application fees, courses and materials fees, and other student service fees, depending on the online school or program.

Trends in Online Education

The 2015 Sloan Consortium survey concluded that online education currently accounts for nearly three-quarters of higher education's enrollment in 2014. The Sloan Consortium went on to state that academic leaders are beginning to look into ways to make online learning sustainable and competitive with traditional schools on the job market.

While growth means more students enrolled in online programs, it may not mean lower costs thanks to new government regulations. The government is stepping in to provide more regulation for online education due to its popularity. reported in 2012 that new government regulations effective in July 2011 cost online educators a combined $900 million.

So, what does this growth mean for tuition costs? If new regulations keep coming, it will increase the operating costs for all institutions, which will likely be passed on to the student. While college attempt to avoid this, sometimes it is inevitable that it will happen, which means higher tuition costs for you.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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