10 Online Colleges With the Best Payment Plans

Paying for college is often considered an ordeal by the average American household.

The good news is, college students have options.

In the US, there are online colleges with low down payment and low monthly payment, as well as regionally accredited online colleges with payment plans.

With affordable payment plans for online courses, students are given a chance to obtain quality education within a reasonable budget. Today, we will lay out all the facts and give you a list of the ten best online schools with the best payment plans in the US.

Table of Contents

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A Look Inside Traditional Education

According to The Condition of Education 2017-18, the US National Center for Education‘s congressionally mandated yearly report, the average cost of attending brick and mortar schools increased from initial reports in 2010-11. To summarize a few of their findings:

  • The average net tuition for public institutions (minus financial aid and other academic grants) was at $13,800.
  • The costs of studying at private institutions varied, ranging from a little over $20,000 up to almost $27,000.
  • The story is different and far more expensive for those living on-campus, with students paying more than $30,000 to $50,000 apart from other living expenses.
Going to school is your future. Education, learning, teaching. A graduation cap with an apple and alot of money

Moreover, the jumps between prices depend on the specific bachelor’s program that you’re taking at a college or university. If you’re looking to complete a liberal arts degree focusing on the areas of science, math, and engineering, Harvey Mudd College offers one of the most expensive and renowned programs in the US, with the total cost of attendance per school year billed at almost $80,000. If you’re a professional who’s hoping to further your business studies, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offers an executive education program that could run for more than $200,000 for two years.

Of course, with the demand for more cost-effective options, some schools strive to offer quality education minus the bulk of fees that lead students to crippling student loan debt. For example, the City University of New York offers tuition (full-time, four-year program) amounting to $6,930 per year for students from New York, and $18,600 for out-of-state residents. According to CollegeCalc, the University of Florida costs 38% cheaper than the national average for public tuition, costing $4,477 for in-state students and around $25,000 for students applying from out of state.

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Much Ado about Distance Learning

Distance learning has become more relevant today than in any other era. With the coronavirus situation sweeping the globe, colleges and universities are trying to embrace online learning as a way to connect educators and students amid social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations.

Essentially, distance learning solutions may cause a much more permanent shift as educators are forced to adapt to these technologies, with start-ups and emerging companies developing new tools to accommodate the growing number of students learning at home.

Bank with dollars and calculator, books on a gray background. Finance, moneybox, education

Online schools and distance learning modalities are trying to achieve certain feats, such as bridging gaps in income disparity and accessibility to quality education while allowing students to study at their own pace.

According to a recent article by ABC News, students at Drexel University filed a class-action lawsuit against the school, collectively demanding that their fees and other advanced payments be returned to them in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The students feel as if they were short-changed, and agree that virtual education efforts of the school don’t necessarily meet what they’ve paid for in the first place. Across other states, the sentiment is similar: Inside Higher Ed reports that students at New York University and University of California campuses felt the same way towards virtual learning programs, with the delivery not at par with their expectations.

Even with these growing pains, this learning modality is promising: private providers and web developers are working double-time to design better educational tools and collaborative suites to cater to a growing number of users. It’s only a matter of time before it gets better. With over 1.5 billion students out of school worldwide due to the pandemic, there is a pressing matter of transitioning to an online classroom, making it today an indispensable part of the educational system. Online learning is here to stay.

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Is An Online College or University Cheap?

The short answer? Probably.

There are certain aspects that we must consider before we can genuinely say that it’s cheaper to earn a degree online. In some cases, it’s not as affordable as you may think.

According to an article by Forbes, a survey of digital learning administrators by Quality Matters and Eduventures/Encoura shows that almost 75% of schools charged the same amount for virtual courses, with 23% of schools charging more for online programs. This is in part due to the initial costs that come with the development of specialized online platforms and portals, promotional expenses, and other miscellaneous charges. Most schools are also run by for-profit companies, and they need to keep the revenue running.

Jar with money, college graduation cap and book.

If you look at it another way, the flexibility of enrolling in an online class extends toward not having to pay for gas or commute fares, which could significantly cut one’s daily expenses.  Because the learning takes place outside of school property, there aren’t rooms to clean up or pieces of land to look after, reducing physical maintenance and utility costs every year (which could reflect in your tuition).

Additionally, schools like Arizona State University—which is considered to be one of the early adaptors and one of the largest online learning providers—offer classes to a higher ratio of students to instructors, which is reported to be significantly larger than on-site lectures. Some schools can afford to do these because they also employ part-time, adjunct faculty for some subjects, which means more openings and free schedules for prospective students.

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Types of Online Tuition Payment Plans

Some institutions have their payment plans to assist students in paying for education or spreading out costs. Such programs are also available from third-party companies.

Your institution may use a third-party organization to manage its official school payment arrangements.

Standard Plans

A typical payment plan’s primary principle is to save you from having to pay a hefty bill at the start of the semester. Instead, the payments are spread out throughout the course of the semester. For this sort of plan, an enrollment fee is usually required.

Deferred Plans

Some colleges use the terms “delayed plan” and “payment plan” interchangeably. Other institutions uniquely handle deferred plans. They expect you to pay a large down payment at the start of the semester, a second installment halfway through the semester, and the remaining balance at the end. Enrollment fees are frequent, and late payments may be charged interest.

Tuition Stabilization Plans

Rather than spreading out your payments, this technique is designed to keep price increases from ruining your budget. However, you’ll need to be able to pay a large sum of money all at once to take benefit of this approach. It entails paying for four to eight semesters ahead of time to lock in the current tuition rate.

Direct Bill Plans

Your employer may cover part of your overall tuition costs. You can have the school’s billing department send the bill directly to the individual or organization who will be paying it using a direct bill plan. It’s possible that the final payment won’t be due until the middle of the semester.

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The Best Online Schools with the Best Payment Plans

The quest for the best online colleges with low down payment and low monthly payment may seem exhausting, but luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here are ten of the best online schools with the best payment plans in the US:

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Rexburg, ID

$128 per credit for church members
$256 per credit for non-members

Popular degree program/s:
Nursing and Allied Health Sciences
Business Management

The Brigham Young University-Idaho, a non-profit university that is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, delivers a “wholesome academic, cultural and social environment.” It is home to more than 34,000 on-campus students and 15,000 online learners. The school prides itself in offering significantly fewer tuition fees through the BYU-Pathway that offer almost 40 online certificate and degree programs.

You can set-up the minimum required payment plan, which is 10% of the total balance by contacting the financial services department of the school before enrollment.

Indiana University – Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

$11,332 for Indiana residents and $38,352 for nonresidents
may vary depending on major

Popular degree program/s:
Allied Health Sciences
Applied Sciences

If you’re looking for regionally accredited online colleges with payment plans that are affordable, Indiana University – Bloomington’s online program may be up for your consideration. The school offers 149 online programs that allow students to earn credits even while on break. If you’re seeking an option for continuous education, they also have graduate certificate programs that are 100% online.

You can pay your tuition in up to four installments, paying only the down-payment and enrollment fee initially.

GBC logo

Great Basin College

Elko, NV

$3,975 for Nevada residents and $10,199 for out-of-state students
may vary depending on cost division

Popular Degree Program/s:
Nursing and Health Sciences
Applied Sciences

Based in Elko, Nevada, Great Basin College is a public state institution that offers quality and one of the most affordable associate and baccalaureate instructions in various career and technical education areas, with over 4,000 enrollees annually across the country. A pioneer in distance learning and online education, it took the 11th spot in the nationwide ranking for “Most Affordable Online Colleges and Degrees” in 2017, published by the research firm SR Education Group.

If you qualify, you can apply for a grant or federal parent loan, which would allow you to arrange for an affordable payment plan with the school. You can do this by signing up at the portal’s Student Self Service Center.

Arizona State University – Skysong

Scottsdale, AZ

$12,828 for Arizona residents and $6,105 for out-of-state students

Popular Degree Program/s:
Business, Allied Health Programs (Pre-med)

The Arizona State University Online Program is one that’s living up to its name in delivering quality education and distance learning modalities across the country. ASU Online offers a comprehensive package, making use of apps to keep students and their professors connected. The school offers career workshops online, allowing students to get the most out of distance learning.

Additionally, students may receive financial aid and scholarship grants according to their qualifications, bringing opportunities for those who genuinely deserve it. You can budget your tuition through the ASU Payment Plan, getting charged over several months for expenses, which you can discuss with the school’s student accounts office.

College of Coastal Georgia

College of Coastal Georgia

Brunswick, GA

$107 for in-state students and $395 for out-of-state students per credit hour

prorated accordingly

Popular Degree Program/s:
Workforce Management, Nursing, Public Administration

Since 2012, the College of Coastal Georgia, which operates under the state university system, has opened its online portals, offering different bachelor’s degrees with a small student-to-teacher ratio of fewer than ten students to 1 instructor. Full-time, experienced faculty facilitate lessons that are recorded and archived for the convenience of students who may want to review lessons and previous discussions. The online program is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Together with NelNet Business Solutions, the College of Coastal Georgia offers a convenient budget plan that you can easily manage through the college’s payment portal.

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND

Per credit hour costs starts at $458-$758

may vary depending on cost division and whether you are a resident or non-resident

Popular Degree Program/s:
Communication and Media Studies, Psychology

Ranked a top-value online university in the northwest by EdSmart.com, the University of North Dakota offers a fully accredited online education platform by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also has a rolling application deadline, which gives you more flexibility and less stress about deadlines. UND has more than 120 online programs and certification courses to choose from, spanning from Engineering to Forensic Psychology, which you can take via their Self-Paced Enroll Anytime scheme. They also offer semester-based classes that run according to the school’s academic calendar.

If you qualify for the federal financial aid or scholarship grants, you can talk about possible options with their one-stop student services department. Qualified UND students usually receive more than $11,000 in financial aid every year.

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK

$205.30-$697.90 per credit hour

Popular Degree Program/s:
Engineering, Business, Education

A state university based in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University brings quality programs at a very affordable price point. Depending on your learning objectives, you can get a degree in multidisciplinary studies at OSU, which could double your chances of acquiring more professional skills. They also have virtual assistance departments in areas such as math and writing. Additionally, they have a career services department that helps graduates land a job within one to two years after graduation.

OSU offers a Payment Option Plan (POP) that gives students the chance to make four monthly payments minus finance charges, and enrollment holds if students comply with the terms, paying only $25 upon enrollment.

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, NJ

$399 per credit registered for in-state for full-time students
$519 per credit registered for full-time students out of state

Popular Degree Program/s:
Nursing, Liberal Arts, Technical Associate Degrees

At Thomas Edison State University, prospective students are given a taste of the program even before they decide to start. With their array of programs and certifications (13 associate degree programs, 33 bachelor’s degrees, 15 master’s, and two doctorate tracks), you can take sample courses to fit distance learning into your schedule. The rolling enrollment policy and asynchronous instruction allow for flexibility with classes.  Their career and academic guidance department are also open online, in case you may need to use this service.

Aside from the full-time, flat-rate tuition, TESU also offers a university payment plan (deferred billing option, usually three installments) that allows you to schedule charges depending on your budget.  You can set it up once you’ve completed your course registration and make a payment via TESU’s Online Student Services portal.

Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE

$610 per credit hour

Popular Degree Program/s:
Business Administration, Commerce, Social Sciences

Since the late 90s, Bellevue University has offered an array of online bachelor’s programs that are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Today, it offers over 75 career-centered degrees and certifications. You can choose to further your educational path under the guidance of experienced faculty members holding small class ratios with no more than 24 students in each one. Their online portal also boasts 24/7 access to different learning tools, technical support services, and library services.

Bellevue University offers deferred tuition payment plans under employment tuition assistance programs via direct bill (military tuition assistance or direct corporate bill) and deferral options (tuition reimbursement care of employer). For assistance on this, you may ask the Student Financial Services team for possible options that may work for you.

University of Florida-Online

Gainesville, FL

$129.18 per credit hour (Florida residents)
$552.62 per credit hour (Non-Florida residents)

Popular Degree Program/s:
Business Administration, Management

As a leading state research university with a significant on-campus enrollment rate of more than 50,000 students, the University of Florida extends its services online. Currently, it caters to more than 3,000 online learners. You can search through their list of 25 undergraduate programs across respected departments (such as the Warrington College of Business and their College of Liberal Arts and Sciences).

Depending on your qualifications, online students of the University of Florida may be eligible for various financial aid programs and flexible payment plans for online courses, which you can discuss with the Office for Student Financial Affairs

If you liked this article, we have several more COLLEGE TIPS that you may find useful. If you want to be prepared and make the right choices about college, you will want to check out the college tips link for sure.