Online school is a popular choice for people who need the flexibility to study from home while they are working or raising a family. Online courses, degrees, and certifications are offered from public and private universities. The costs and reputation between these schools will vary widely however. Perspective students should weigh out many options before making a choice. In some instances, online education isn’t just about the flexibility, but also the lower cost. If you’re interested in finding the best online college for value and price, here are some things to take into consideration.
- Academic Options: Some private online schools specialize in only a few academic degree offerings such as health care, education, or business. If you already know what you want to get your degree in, be sure to find a school that offers this major. Paying for a degree pertaining to a subject that doesn’t interest you or has a lacking job market won’t do you any good in the end no matter how inexpensive the program. If you’re still choosing a major, consider looking into which degrees are in highest demand in your area (or the city you wish to live in) and see if there is anything that makes the most sense for you.
- Graduation Success: Most colleges like to taut the successes of their alumni – and this is valuable information for perspective students as well. Talk to the career center about how students from their school did landing paid internships, entry level jobs, or earning a promotion at their current job after graduating from the school. Also consider the dropout rate and how long it takes most students to finish up their degree.
- Cost of Tuition: Compare the cost of tuition between not only the online schools you’re interested in, but other nearby traditional universities to get an idea of whether or not the school you’re considering is a good value. Keep in mind, the cost of tuition can easily fluctuate from year to year – and typically it gets more expensive. If possible, look into how much the tuition has increased in the last four years at each school to see if the school is known for big tuition increases or if they try to keep their price steady.
- Fees and Other Extras: While you won’t have to worry about dorm cost or gas money spent driving to and from campus, there are always additional fees to be aware exist. This starts with the application fee and goes all the way until the cost to print your diploma at the end. While these fees may not be make or break, they’re still important to consider.
Finding the best online college in terms of value isn’t just about being the cheapest education out there – it’s about balancing your needs, expectations, and future goals with the cost of tuition at schools that can help you get to where you want to be professionally.
The Best Online Colleges by Value
Both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance rank this California university among the nation’s best values for undergraduate education. In addition to strong academic and research programs and very reasonable tuition, the school boasts a high graduation rate, a diverse student body, very low average student debt, high student satisfaction and a commitment to making education affordable through student financial aid. Ranked among the country’s 50 best values in college education by U.S. News and World Report, Yeshiva University is known for its excellent academics and world-class research opportunities. The school has a strong Jewish tradition and a satellite campus in Israel. In 2010, 95 percent of Yeshiva’s graduates were employed or pursuing graduate education within six months of graduation. U.S. News and World Report ranks Dartmouth among the 10 best values in the nation for undergraduate education. A member of the prestigious Ivy League, Dartmouth offers stellar academics and top-flight research facilities. The school guarantees each student sufficient financial aid to fully meet his or her financial need and offers a competitive matching program for financial aid offers. Both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review consider Thomas Aquinas College one of the best values in undergraduate education in the United States. The school’s tuition is among the lowest in the nation, and the average student graduates with little debt. Known for excellent academics and a strong community atmosphere, the school guarantees that it will provide enough financial aid to meet the demonstrated financial need of each of its students. Honored for being one of the nation’s best college values by the Princeton Review, the University of Chicago is also ranked fourth among all national universities by U.S. News and World Report. The school is world-renowned as a research and teaching institution, and its student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1 demonstrates its commitment to providing individual attention to each student. Both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance commend this university for the excellent value it offers its students. In addition to providing a superior education at a reasonable price, the school offers a vibrant campus, great athletic programs and superior research facilities. Student debt is fairly low, and the school provides generous aid packages to those who qualify. This well-known conservative Christian college is famous for its close-knit community and its values-driven educational philosophy. With annual undergraduate tuition and fees totaling less than $20,000, Liberty is less expensive than the average private college. For students looking for a Christian school where they can get a quality education for a reasonable price, Liberty University is a good choice. With annual tuition and fees totaling approximately $14,000, Everglades University is much less expensive than most other private colleges in the nation. The small school offers both in-person and distance learning options to please both traditional students and working professionals. With small class sizes, high student satisfaction and career-focused instruction, Everglades University provides good value for the price. Named one of the country’s best values in college education by the Princeton Review, Oregon State University offers excellent academic and athletic programs, beautiful facilities, opportunities for research and the nation’s best forestry school. The university is also known for being a leader in the use of renewable energy. Both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list Boston University as a best value school because it provides an excellent education at a reasonable price. The school is ranked among the top 100 universities in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report, and it is known for its superior academic, research and athletic programs as well as its vibrant urban campus. Ranked among the nation’s 20 best values in public education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, UC Santa Barbra is also listed as one of the 50 best national universities and one of the 10 best public universities by U.S. News and World Report. The school is considered a Public Ivy because it is one of the country’s top public research and academic universities. This Texas university ranks among the top 50 universities in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report, and the Princeton Review lists it as one of the country’s best values for college education. One of the largest schools in the United States, this university boasts a bustling urban campus, superior academic, research and athletic programs and an impressive variety of student activities. Ranked as one of the country’s 100 best values in public education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the university offers small classes, a choice of nearly 90 academic majors, a thriving extracurricular program and a variety of research opportunities. Tuition for Wisconsin residents is under $9,000 per year, and the annual out-of-state tuition is under $17,000. Ranked among the nation’s best educational values by the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, this university is also one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News and World Report. The university offers small classes, a beautiful campus and excellent academic programs. Named one of the country’s best values in college education by the Princeton Review, Longwood University also has a place among the top public universities in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report. The Virginia school boasts a beautiful campus, rigorous academic programs and a commitment to providing students with real-world experience through a school-wide internship program. The Fiske Guide to Colleges named Evergreen State College to its list of best college buys because the school offers students exceptional educational value for their tuition dollars. Known for its innovative approach to college education, this Washington school focuses on collaborative learning and offers integrated programs rather than individual courses and narrative evaluations rather than grades. Ranked among the 50 best values in American public education, this university is committed to integrating research and mentoring with undergraduate teaching. The school boasts excellent facilities, a top-notch faculty and a beautiful coastal campus. Tuition for in-state students is less than $7,000 per year, and out-of-state students pay around $18,000 per year. The Princeton Review ranks this university as one of the 75 best values in American public education. The school is known for its commitment to providing an affordable education and prioritizing the needs of its students. Current students praise the school’s excellent academics and caring atmosphere. Given this school’s national reputation for affordability and high academic standards, it is no surprise that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks Truman State University among the top 20 values in public higher education in the United States. The Missouri school prides itself on engaging students through small classes, group projects, internship programs and research opportunities. Hailed as one the nation’s five best undergraduate values by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the California Institute of Technology is also ranked among the top 10 universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The school is world-renowned for excellence in education and research in science and engineering. Known for its affordability and value, Appalachian State University has earned the distinction of appearing on the best buy lists of Forbes, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review. In addition to low tuition, this North Carolina school boasts one of the highest rates of student satisfaction in the nation and offers excellent academic programs, a commitment to undergraduate research and highly regarded business and nursing programs. Included on the Princeton Review’s list of best values in college education, this private Virginia school is committed to undergraduate teaching. The school offers small class sizes, a large variety of extracurricular activities, a strong athletic program, international programs, cooperative career opportunities and custom degree options. One of only two private colleges in Virginia to be named to the Princeton Review’s list of best values for undergraduate education, the University of Richmond is ranked among the top 30 liberal arts colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The school is known for its beautiful campus and commitment to academic excellence. Topping both the Princeton Review’s list of best values in private undergraduate education and the list of best values in liberal arts education from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Swarthmore College is also ranked third among all liberal arts colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The Pennsylvania school is known for its strong community atmosphere and commitment to both academic rigor and social responsibility. Listed by both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review as a top value in public education, the University of Central Florida is the nation’s second-largest university. The school offers over 200 degree programs and provides students with excellent academic opportunities, an extensive selection of extracurricular options and a diverse environment that fosters learning. Included on lists of best buys in college education by both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the College of New Jersey is one of the best schools in the Northeast for students who want an excellent education for a reasonable price. The school boasts a stellar academic reputation, a well-respected teacher training program, an acclaimed business program and a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Named to the Princeton Review’s “Best Buy Colleges” list, St. Olaf College is a private Lutheran college with a strong academic tradition and a focus on the individual development of each of its students. The Minnesota school offers students an excellent liberal arts education, a wide selection of extracurricular activities and many opportunities to work cooperatively. Ranked among the 50 best values in public education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review, New Paltz State University of New York boasts a high four-year graduation rate, excellent academic programs and relatively low student debt. The school is known for its beautiful campus and its committed faculty. Ranked among the 40 best values in public undergraduate education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Indiana University is also ranked among the 100 best national universities by U.S. News and World Report. The university is known for having a vibrant atmosphere, excellent academic programs and strong athletics. The school’s Bloomington campus is widely considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country Smart Money Magazine ranks the University of Colorado among the nation’s top 20 colleges for earnings by graduates, and both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review rank it among the best public education values in the nation. The school is known for excellence in research, academics and athletics. Included among the nation’s best college values by the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the College of Charleston has also won places on Parade Magazine’s list of the nation’s best small public schools and Newsweek’s list of the country’s most interesting schools. Located in beautiful Charleston, S.C., the college is known for creating a small-school atmosphere despite its moderate size. Ranked among U.S. News and World Report’s top 50 national universities, Brandies University has also been hailed as one of the country’s best private education values by both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. A world-class research university, Brandeis has the comfortable atmosphere of a small liberal arts school. Both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review rank this Virginia college among the country’s 10 best values in public education. Located in historic Williamsburg, Va., this school has a long and proud tradition of academic rigor, and the College of William and Mary has an unparalleled commitment to undergraduate teaching. One of the country’s best values in private education according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Knox College is known for providing a top-quality education at an affordable price. The Illinois school boasts engaged faculty members, a high student satisfaction rate and a strong community atmosphere. In addition, Knox College provides students with the opportunity to design their own academic programs to fit their goals. Named one of the top undergraduate values in the nation by both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review, Centre College is also ranked among the top 20 universities in the country by The Alumni Factor. The Kentucky school is famous for its strong educational programs, high graduate satisfaction rate, career-focused internship programs and abundant student research opportunities. Included on the Princeton Review’s prestigious list of best values in college education, Carleton College is also ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. Located in Northfield, Minn., this small private school is known for its friendly atmosphere, engaged faculty and extracurricular opportunities. Known for providing an exceptional education for an affordable price, this university is ranked among the top public schools in the nation for value by the Princeton Review. In addition to traditional learning, the school is committed to providing students with opportunities for hands-on, high-impact learning through real-world experiences, internships, research projects and other programs. Named one of the nation’s best values in higher education by both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the Princeton Review, Harvey Mudd College is also ranked among the top 15 liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The California school offers world-class programs in engineering, mathematics and the sciences and is committed to producing scientists who have a general understanding of the liberal arts, sciences and social sciences. Recognized as one of the nation’s 20 best public college values by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Binghamton University also ranks among the 100 best universities in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report. The New York school offers superior academic programs, a learning community based on Oxford University’s college system, a beautiful wooded campus and excellent athletic programs. Ranked among the nation’s 10 best college values by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and included on the Princeton Review’s list of best values in public education, this New York school provides a superb education for a reasonable price. The school offers excellent teaching by engaged faculty members, senior experiences in almost every academic department, a high rate of student satisfaction and a variety of extracurricular opportunities.
Trent managed to earn both a B.A. and an advanced degree with a combination of scholarships, grants, loans and a couple of jobs. He brings this experience, and his paid off student loans to you as the voice of Frugal Scholar. Now, he’s heading back to school and saving for/worrying about college for his own kids, Sam and Sarah.