12 Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges in 2021

Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges

In recent years, online schools have gained popularity in the United States. They are the next best thing to traditional education for people who want to get a degree while working full-time or without disrupting their personal lives. The popularity of distance education has increased significantly. Within the years 2015 and 2016, enrollment increased to 5%!

In the fall of 2018, more than 6.3 million students took at least one online course. Students prefer online courses in public and private academic institutions, but public universities have seen the most significant increase.

According to a new study, the number of students enrolling in online degree programs has skyrocketed. Online schools will attract more students since they provide more digital technologies and platforms. Students will also be demanding online learning degrees that offer courses that are most suited to job-specific abilities.

While more schools and universities offer distance education as an alternative mode of instruction and learning, choosing the ideal online school that matches each student’s needs can be challenging. After all, earning an online degree from a reputable institution is a long-term commitment.

Because of the numerous benefits that online schools provide, more college students are opting for them over traditional colleges and universities. Flexibility, accessibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness are just a few of them.

How vital is it to enroll in an accredited online school?

Accreditation is an essential aspect of any academic institution’s legitimacy. Accreditation is a thorough review of a program or college by an independent agency based on variables such as student support, academic excellence, and teacher credentials.

The school’s accreditation establishes that it is a reliable institution that adheres to a high quality of education. Distance learning allows students to earn undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and professional level courses from online schools through an accreditation procedure.

Can you really find a cheap accredited online college?

When college students are looking for outstanding educational possibilities, the cost of attending a university or college is generally a factor. Many students considering a two-year degree or hoping to gain transfer credits consider community colleges as an affordable option.

Finding or searching for affordable online courses usually necessitates extensive investigation. Tuition for four-year online programs isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less than what you’d pay at a brick-and-mortar institution. For starters, online degree programs require less financial investment on the side of the student because they do not have to pay for school buildings, staff, or employees. There are also no commuting expenditures! Tuition at online institutions typically ranges from $100 to $400 per credit hour.

Accredited online colleges also allow students from all over the world to get their diplomas without ever leaving their homes. You don’t need to complete any trip needs or pay for expensive travel; all you need is a working computer and access to the Internet!

Did you know that qualified students can get grants, scholarships, loans, and other types of financial aid from online schools? You can probably find an online college or university that is affordable while yet providing high-quality education.

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What is the cheapest online university? Affordability must match with the quality of instruction, employment chances after graduation, and student services, among other things, so there is no clear-cut answer. These 12 schools represent the best of both worlds: affordability and educational quality. 

We used the following standards to select the twelve institutions:

  • Tuition costs of no more than $520 per credit/semester hour or unit; Accreditation status that is appropriate and recognizable;
  • Popularity and academic accomplishments
  • Acknowledgment from credible journalistic and literary sources;
  • Plenty of financial aid options.

Please see our Methodology page to learn more about our online college and degree program selection process.

Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges in 2021

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University - Logo

Many resources have named Thomas Edison State University one of the fastest and most economical online schools in the country, elevating it above many other institutions of higher learning. Students can choose from over 100 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs, significantly more than other online colleges.

The Social Science Research Methods degree program at TESU is one of the most popular, with only a few other online schools offering it. Residents pay $399 per credit hour, while non-residents pay $519 per credit hour at Thomas Edison State University. This is perhaps the cheapest online university per credit hour if and when scholarships are factored into the final calculation.

Campus Location:

  • Trenton, NJ

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Acceptance Rate:

  • 100%

Retention Rate:

  • 46.1%

Graduation Rate:

  • 41.5%

Financial Aid:

  • Pell Grant or Federal Education Loans (Subsidized Stafford Loan and the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan)

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Programs are designed for working adults.
  • One of the best generous transfer credit programs.
  • Offer a free 2-course trial.
  • The school website offers Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to help students compute the estimate the cost and find more about possible financial assistance options so they can compare TESU to other schools.
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University of Alabama

bama - collegecliffs.com

The University of Alabama’s online programs are administered by the school’s Bama by Distance Department and provide some of the most economical online bachelor’s and master’s degrees available, especially for such a well-known public university. Alabama online students have access to the same resources, care, and attention as on-campus students, as well as a selection of more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs, far more than most schools.

Upon acceptance, students join a vast network of professionals, faculty members, and alumni, all of whom provide ongoing support to one another both inside and outside of their academic pursuits. Undergraduate tuition at the University of Alabama is $375 per credit hour, while graduate tuition is $420 per credit hour.

Thanks to this pricing, the University of Alabama is one of the most affordable online universities on our list. But don’t write it off as a diploma mill! Renowned ranking agencies such as US News & World Report and Business Insider have named the university one of the country’s best public universities. Its business, education, and engineering programs and its law school, which was named the third-best public law school by Business Insider, are among the most prominent of its many degree programs.

Campus Location:

  • Tuscaloosa, AL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 82.7%

Retention Rate:

  • 88%

Graduation Rate:

  • 68.3%

Financial Aid:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Loans

What’s Unique About The School:

  • UA’s online classes are asynchronous, but some demand live involvement in discussions and group projects.
  • Students can enroll in a blended program, which combines the convenience of online learning with the structure of a traditional classroom setting.
  • Students can take their exams online or at a testing facility affiliated with the university.

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The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

UT Permian Basin Logo

This university is a low-cost online school that offers excellent Business, Education, and Nursing degrees, among other programs. Business and psychology are two of the most popular majors at this prestigious university. 

US News & World Report has honored UTPB in various ways, including the “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs among Texas Public Universities,” and it is now receiving acclaim for its inexpensive online courses!

Undergraduate tuition is $303.71/credit hour, while graduate tuition is $326.71/credit hour. There’s no doubt about it: these are some of the most affordable online schools available!

Campus Location:

  • Odessa, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 88.3%

Retention Rate:

  • 68%

Graduation Rate:

  • 49.2%

Financial Aid:

  • Student Loans
  • Grants
  • Scholarships

What’s Unique About The School:

  • The flexibility of the curriculum at UT Permian Basin is considered one of the best. There is a schedule for everyone, which is especially useful if you work night shifts.
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West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University is a diverse, supportive, and inexpensive online university with a wide selection of undergraduate and graduate programs. Liberal arts and humanities disciplines and nursing and business degrees are the majors that produce the most graduates. Students find a solid educational community and take pride in their school in the virtual classroom, fostering a welcoming camaraderie attitude.

Many programs also offer projects and rotations conducted within a student’s community, allowing them to gain a more profound knowledge of their major’s fundamentals while still benefiting from the advantages of an excellent online school. West Texas A&M University’s tuition is around $50 per credit hour for in-state students and $80 per credit hour for out-of-state students, depending on the degree program.

Students can also enroll in various low-cost online college courses, such as chemistry, communication, and criminal justice. Many of these classes are also self-paced, allowing students to work at their own pace online.

Campus Location:

  • Canyon, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 68.9%

Retention Rate:

  • 66%

Graduation Rate:

  • 42.9%

Financial Aid:

  • Student Loan
  • Emergency Loan

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Resident applicants are guaranteed to be a part of tuition funding programs.
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Columbia College

Columbia College - Logo

This low-cost online college has been listed in various rankings and directories that detail the cheapest, fastest, and best distance education degrees

Columbia College now accommodates tens of thousands of online students. Students can choose from 28 associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degrees, with over 800 courses.

Some of the most well-known degrees, such as General Business and Human Services, are situated within the Business Administration Departments. Columbia College charges $375 per credit hour for undergraduate programs and $490 per credit hour for graduate programs. 

Furthermore, US military members are eligible for reduced tuition rates of $250 per credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $325 per credit hour for graduate degrees.

Columbia College has some of the cheapest online tuition per credit hour in the state, if not the country because online students can apply for scholarships and grants just like their on-campus counterparts.

Campus Location:

  • Columbia, MO

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Retention Rate:

  • 99%

Graduation Rate:

  • 43.3%

Financial Aid:

  • Scholarships
  • Military-affiliated benefit

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Columbia University’s financial aid program is among the strongest in the country. The school provides considerable need-based grants to lower-income students, decreasing the cost of college to almost $0 in some cases.
  • The school gives credit for non-traditional learning events or life experiences.

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Eastern New Mexico University

Eastern New Mexico University has recently received praise for its cost-effective online offerings. The Bachelor of Computer Science is one such degree; however, several undergraduate and graduate degrees are available. Before applying, students should look at the sample degree plans on the ENMU website to see if the majors are a suitable fit.

This low-cost online school is accredited by several organizations and authorities and offers only the best education. Eastern New Mexico University charges residents $166.50 per credit hour plus fees, non-residents $249.75 per credit hour plus fees, and resident and non-resident graduate students $293.50 per credit hour plus expenses.

ENMU’s dual enrollment program also offers low-cost online college courses for credit. While still in high school, interested students can take several of their 100 and 200 level, or freshman and sophomore, classes here. Taking these programs has many advantages, including pursuing hobbies that aren’t available in high school and an easier transition to college life.

Campus Location:

  • Portales, NM

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Retention Rate:

  • 59%

Graduation Rate:

  • 38.4%

Financial Aid:

  • Scholarship
  • Grants
  • Stipend
  • Student Assistance
  • Waiver

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Online students can receive free tutoring from the school. Learners can usually take proctored tests at designated locations in their community.

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American Public University

Students can enroll in American Public University’s six schools and pay a low tuition fee for undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The low-cost online courses were created in partnership with specialists from various industries worldwide to provide students with the best chances, experience, and information possible. Professors are thought leaders in their fields, and APU sponsors forums and discussions with other experts regularly, providing them with significant networking opportunities.

Undergraduate tuition at American Public University is $285 per credit hour, while graduate tuition is $370. The discounted tuition rates accessible to students linked with the United States Military are part of its attractiveness as an affordable online education.

Campus Location:

  • Charles Town, WV

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 100%

Retention Rate:

  • 76%

Graduation Rate:

  • 22%

Financial Aid:

  • Grants
  • Scholarships

What’s Unique About The School:

  • AMU is an excellent school for the military and is very accepting of active duty military life.

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Grantham University

Grantham University Logo

Grantham University offers more than 50 low-cost online Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Certificate programs. To summarize, while it is one of the more economical online colleges on our list, its educational level is regarded as high. 

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration program and Business degrees are two of Grantham’s most popular programs. Students, particularly adult learners who begin their college programs later in life, have nothing but positive things about this affordable online university. Grantham University’s undergraduate tuition is $295 per credit hour, and graduate tuition is $350 per credit hour.

Campus Location:

  • Lenexa, KS

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Acceptance Rate:

  • 100%

Retention Rate:

  • 46%

Graduation Rate:

  • 24%

Financial Aid:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Private Financial Aid
  • Heroes Program

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Grantham has garnered multiple accolades and recognition as an expert in online education, all while ensuring that education is accessible. Consider a laptop program that provides all new and returning students enrolled in a degree program with a brand new Lenovo laptop at no cost.

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Florida International University

Florida International University - Hospitality Management

Florida International University is a low-cost online university that offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs. FIU has appeared on many lists and rankings that have indexed the best online resources and degrees. Students have limitless access to a variety of academic perks and have the opportunity to learn from award-winning instructors who also offer on-campus courses.

Students have complete control over their courses, allowing them to tailor their schedules to their own needs. Residents pay $212.71 per credit hour, while non-residents pay $329.77 per credit hour at Florida International University.

These are among the state’s lowest online colleges per credit hour; by comparison, Advent Health University’s tuition is around $510 per credit hour.

Campus Location:

  • Miami, FL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 50%

Retention Rate:

  • 88%

Graduation Rate:

  • 54.2%

Financial Aid:

  • Tuition Waiver
  • Scholarship
  • Grants

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Military training can earn you academic credit at FIU, and these credits usually apply toward electives.
  • Their online courses give students the same high-quality learning experience as on-campus students. The same professors will teach online students, and the online curriculum is equally as exciting as the on-campus classes.

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Brigham Young University Idaho

Cheapest Online College

Through a unique and innovative initiative called PathwayConnect, Brigham Young University Idaho offers exceptionally affordable online degrees. This distance education incorporates online learning, community interaction, and a spiritual framework from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Students at BYU Idaho have the opportunity to interact with one another as learners and future leaders while also having the freedom to complete their degrees on their schedules.

The PathwayConnect programs are also very reasonably priced. Brigham Young University Idaho’s tuition is $125 per credit hour for average online degrees and $73 per credit hour for degrees completed through the PathwayConnect Program, making it a very economical alternative for online students.

Campus Location:

  • Rexburg, ID

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Acceptance Rate:

  • 100%

Retention Rate:

  • 69%

Graduation Rate:

  • 56%

Financial Aid:

  • Federal Financial Aid
  • Private Aid

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Those who aren’t sure what major they want to pursue may apply to the PathwayConnect program. It is a one-year program that teaches critical academic abilities and fulfills several general education requirements.
  • Students can combine a degree with a certificate to tailor their experience.
  • All of the courses follow an asynchronous curriculum and include a strong emphasis on gospel learning.

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University of Central Florida

The UCF is a well-known, low-cost online university that offers over 80 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. UCF provides a wide range of majors, so students are sure to find something that interests them. Hospitality and Tourism Management and Psychology majors are two of the most popular degrees sought by UCF students, demonstrating the wide variety of the program offerings.

The University of Central Florida charges residents and non-residents $105.07 per credit hour, plus a $511.06 non-resident fee for students. Residents and non-residents pay $288.16 per credit hour for graduate students, with a non-resident cost of $785.15.

UCF has a continuous presence on the list of the most affordable online institutions in the United States, with the same tuition rate for locals and non-residents. The parity is critical in luring out-of-state students to the school’s online degree programs, which will help the school build a reputation for inclusive, high-quality education.

Campus Location:

Orlando, FL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 44.4%

Retention Rate:

  • 90%

Graduation Rate:

  • 74.7%

Financial Aid:

  • Grants
  • Scholarship

What’s Unique About The School:

  • Students at UCF receive the most excellent education available from an institution that is a pioneer in online learning. The school has been teaching online since the beginning, with a combined experience of 25 years.

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Oregon State University

Oregon State University’s Extended Campus, or Ecampus, offers cheap online Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, and Certificate degrees, with various intriguing majors and minors to select from. In particular, Computer Science, Human Development, and Public Health programs have produced a large number of graduates. Students at OSU are adequately cared for, and they form close bonds with instructors and classmates who support them in their current and future jobs.

This online school is also an excellent fit for international students, as students come from all over the world to attend programs at OSU, making the virtual classroom a diverse learning environment for all. Oregon State University’s tuition is $309 per credit hour, and with financial aid for online students, it’s one of the most affordable online institutions in the US.

Campus Location:

  • Corvallis, OR

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate:

  • 82.3%

Retention Rate:

  • 83%

Graduation Rate:

  • 62.5%

Financial Aid:

  • Grants

What’s Unique About The School:

  • OSU is one of the best online schools that offer grants for their online students. However, this grant is only for students pursuing their first undergraduate degree.