As more colleges and universities launch online undergraduate degree programs, many prospective students are weighing multiple options.
During that process, cost is among the top factors they consider, according to a 2017 survey by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House, a company that helps colleges and universities create online programs.
For out-of-state students, there are many low-cost options when it comes to online bachelor’s degrees, in some cases being even more affordable than in-state schools.
[See the top 20 bachelor’s degree programs for online students.]
Among the 145 ranked online colleges that submitted these data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the College of Coastal Georgia tops the list of the cheapest for out-of-state students during the 2017-2018 school year. The school charges $136 per credit, for a total program cost of $16,320.
To put things in perspective, a prospective student from Utah would pay less for the College of Coastal Georgia than for Utah State University, which reported to U.S. News that it charges in-state residents $250 per credit in 2017-2018 for a total cost of $30,000.
The average cost per credit among all ranked online bachelor’s programs is $441 for 2017-2018, while the average total tuition and fees amount to $53,650, U.S. News data show. Among the 10 cheapest online colleges per credit for out-of-state students, the average figure is significantly lower: $198 per credit and $25,166 total.
[Discover five financial questions to ask when choosing an online degree program.]
On the opposite end of the spectrum are more expensive online bachelor’s programs for out-of-state students, such as Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. The school charges $1,070 per credit, or a total of $128,400 for 120 credits.
Prospective students should keep in mind that most students enroll in online bachelor’s programs with some college credits already completed. In contrast to most face-to-face programs, online programs typically charge by credit rather than semester.
Below is a list of the undergraduate online programs where out-of-state students had the lowest cost per credit during the 2017-2018 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be ranked, were not considered for this report.
School name (state) Out-of-state cost per credit Credits needed to graduate Out-of-state total program cost U.S. News rank
College of Coastal Georgia $136 120 $16,320 71 (tie)
Valley City State University (ND) $177 120 $21,240 138 (tie)
Framingham State University (MA) $189 120 $22,680 264-346
University of West Georgia $199 120 $23,880 243 (tie)
Georgia Southern University $204 126 $25,704 115 (tie)
Oregon State University $208 180 $37,440 6
Arkansas State University $210 120 $25,200 259 (tie)
Fort Hays State University (KS) $213 120 $25,560 35 (tie)
University of Alaska—Fairbanks $223 120 $26,760 192 (tie)
University of Texas of the Permian Basin $224 120 $26,880 234 (tie)
School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed more than 350 colleges and universities for our 2018 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The tuition data above are correct as of Jan. 9, 2018.