Online programs can save students money on transportation, housing and study materials compared to some on-campus programs. However, some institutions charge a distance learning or technology fee. At many private universities, tuition for an online undergraduate degree is lower than for an on-campus degree. The average price per credit for online programs at the 198 private colleges that reported to U.S. News for the 2021-2022 academic year was $513, which is lower than the average tuition price for on-campus programs at ranked private colleges, which was $1,287, among the 628 colleges that reported this information.
At public institutions, tuition may differ for in-state and out-of-state online students. Among the 183 ranked public institutions that reported this information to U.S. News, the average tuition for in-state and in-district students for an online bachelor’s degree was $333 per credit for the 2021-2022 academic year. Tuition for in-state students studying on campus averaged $385 per credit, among the 283 ranked colleges that provided this information. Attending a state school in your state can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your degree.
Note that tuition may be program or format specific.
Students can reduce the cost of an online degree in several ways. For example, they can transfer earned college credits or enroll in an accelerated program. However, Wiley Education Services’ 2021 survey found that 8% of students reported that transferring prior credits was the most difficult part of their enrollment process.
There is also a format, called competency-based education, that allows students to pay a set price per billing period. Students demonstrate their mastery of specific skills to advance more quickly in the subject and spend more time on new information. Scholarships for online students can also help reduce the price of school.
In addition, working students may be eligible for employer-based tuition reimbursement – where employers pay some or all of the tuition. The 2021 Wiley Education Services survey found that 68% of students surveyed had full-time jobs, and 15% had part-time jobs.