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Most affordable online colleges

Written by:
May 23, 2022
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This story originally appeared on Best Universities and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Most affordable online colleges

Remote learning has come a long way since the days of taking correspondence courses via the U.S. postal service during the 19th century. Today, technology has made it possible for students to earn a degree fully online from anywhere in the world. As more students embrace postsecondary remote options, affordable online college programs are increasingly popping up, providing an alternative to the traditional university experience.

Out of the more than 19 million enrolled college students in 2019, 37.2% were enrolled in distance education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions. The data collected among 50 states and Washington D.C. include institutions that award associate degrees and higher. These institutions also accept federal financial aid programs.

Citing tuition data compiled by OnlineU, Best Universities identified the 10 most affordable, accredited online college programs to earn a bachelor’s degree.

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#10. Arkansas State University

- Annual tuition: $6,540
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Graduation rate: 53%
- Students receiving financial aid: 97%

Arkansas State University’s online program has had more than 10,000 graduates to date. Arkansas State holds regional and national accreditations from the Higher Learning Commission and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

There are more than 20 online undergraduate programs that range from business administration and criminology to political science and strategic communication. The programs have rolling start dates throughout the year, making it easier for online students to start coursework sooner.

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#9. Western Governors University

- Annual tuition: $6,450
- Acceptance rate: Data not available
- Graduation rate: 21%
- Students receiving financial aid: 72%

Western Governors University, which was created by 19 U.S. governors, features a competency-based approach that focuses on assessing essential skills and knowledge rather than accumulating credit hours. The school offers a flat-rate tuition model so students can complete as many courses as they can within a term.

Progress toward an online degree is based on passing assessments that measure students’ skills and knowledge in their field of study. WGU is the first university where all degrees are competency-based.

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#8. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

- Annual tuition: $6,298
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Graduation rate: 53%
- Students receiving financial aid: 84%

Established in 1965, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has 13 undergraduate programs online including accounting, nursing, psychology, and human resources management. Other online offerings include accelerated degrees for organizational leadership and business administration, as well as “boot camps” to learn coding and data analytics. 

For some programs, coursework is available with both on-campus and online options, and even a hybrid of both.

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#7. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

- Annual tuition: $6,114
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 36%
- Students receiving financial aid: 97%

Eastern New Mexico University has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, allowing the school to deliver online courses across state lines. Students in Texas within a 135-mile radius of ENMU qualify for the in-state tuition rate. ENMU is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

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#6. Western Carolina University

- Annual tuition: $5,670
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 62%
- Students receiving financial aid: 85%

Established in 1889, Western Carolina University offers several services for online students, including 24/7 access to online tutoring services via Smarthinking. A member of the University of North Carolina system, WCU provides an education to more than 10,000 students from 48 states and 35 countries.

In U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of online degree programs (released in January 2022), WCU was #67 on the list of Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs. 

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#5. Georgia Southern University

- Annual tuition: $5,646
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Students receiving financial aid: 91%

Georgia Southern University has been awarded several accolades recognizing the school as military-friendly. Students can choose from a variety of subjects including world languages and cultures, interdisciplinary studies (such as arts or social sciences), informational technology, and nursing (RN-BSN).

Students, alumni, and employers of GSU have access to Handshake, an online connection for internships, co-ops, and jobs. Handshake provides connections to the career and internship adviser, on-campus interviews, access to career fairs and events, and assistance with resumes and cover letters.

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#4. Kennesaw State University

- Annual tuition: $5,562
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 46%
- Students receiving financial aid: 92%

Kennesaw State University, located in Kennesaw, Georgia, offers more than 15 online undergraduate programs including software engineering, supply chain logistics, marketing, sociology, and criminal justice. The same academic support services provided to in-person students are also available to online learners, which include academic advisors, financial aid counselors, and mental health counseling.

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#3. Valdosta State University

- Annual tuition: $5,463
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 40%
- Students receiving financial aid: 92%

Founded in 1913, Valdosta State University has a wide selection of online bachelor’s degrees, such as criminal justice, management, organizational leadership, French, psychology, Spanish, workforce education/development, and office administration/technology.

The school offers The Online Readiness Indicator, a survey designed for those who are unsure whether online learning is the best option for them. Survey respondents receive tailored feedback and resources to navigate online delivery and potential challenges that may arise.

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#2. Clayton State University

- Annual tuition: $5,079
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Graduation rate: 30%
- Students receiving financial aid: 88%

Clayton State University offers eTuition, a tuition rate designated for select online programs. This adjusted rate is tailored for distance learners, and excludes some of the traditional fees that come with the on-campus experience, such as parking or athletic fees. 

With more than 40 bachelor's programs, students can opt for a degree in dental hygiene, biology, health sciences, English, music, nursing (RN-BSN), theatre, and philosophy. Specialized programs include pre-engineering and pre-pharmacy and dual degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering; computer science and engineering; and integrative studies and engineering.

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#1. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

- Annual tuition: $5,067
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 41%
- Students receiving financial aid: 90%

In its 2022 rankings, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of North Carolina at Pembroke #65 for regional universities in the South, #18 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #30 in Top Public Schools.

UNCP offers six undergraduate online degrees in criminal justice, sociology, business administration, nursing, interdisciplinary studies, and education.


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