Saving Money On A Bachelors Degree
Lets take it a step further. How much would it cost to attend that public in-state college for all four years? Approximately $71,948. Thats nearly $72k for a bachelors degree.
But what if you went to a community college first? Two years at a community college, then transfer for another two years at that public in-state college? That cost would look more like $57,284. Which is an average saving of $14,664 for a bachelors degree! That is a significant amount of savings.
More and more students are participating in 2+2 Programsearning an associates degree, then transferring to a college/university for another 2 years and earning a bachelors degree. Students can take care of their general education courses at a community college, then focus on their major classes once they transfer to a different college/university. Its a great way to save money on tuition costs.
Best Online Community Colleges
Millions of students each year start their higher education journey at a community college. Some are looking to enter an occupation requiring an associate degree. Others are seeking an affordable way to take general education courses before transferring to a bachelor’s degree program. Along the way, many of them learn useful and marketable skills and gain an important credential.
For many students, online education provides a convenient way to learn. In 2018, nearly two million community college students took at least one distance education course, with almost 15% taking online courses exclusively. For applicants considering an online degree, we’ve ranked the best online community colleges below, based on retention rate, number of online associate degrees offered, and percentage of students enrolled online. We’ve also provided an overview of community colleges and information about the online learning experience, costs of an online degree, and career outcomes for graduates.
When Online Learning Costs More
Institutions who charged more indicated the biggest reason for charging more was higher delivery and support costs. That is because most colleges dont actually run their own online or distance learning programs and use a revenue-sharing approach by utilizing online program managers .
- OPMs are companies that offer plug-and-play courses, modules, and often sell students the accompanying course materials.
- OPMs often handle other areas colleges and universities struggle with, such as marketing and training faculty.
- 61% of schools charge more for online learning because of higher maintenance costs.
- 60% of schools charge more online because of higher program development costs.
- 24-7 technical support for students taking online courses is often outsourced to OPMs- the institutions pass on these costs to the students.
- 39% charge more because of higher marketing costs.
- 30% charge more because of higher third-party costs .
- Nearly 20% of colleges say they charge more for online instruction to meet their revenue goals.
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Lab & Special Course Costs
Instructional Program Fees/Course Fees generally $7.60 per credit hour are charged to high/medium cost classes as determined by the state of Colorado. Some Math, English, and Communication classes have an additional course fee of $7.60 per credit hour or $3.75 per credit hour added for tutoring.
Registration Fee: $14.60 per semester
Other Factors To Consider
When applying to community colleges and deciding where you’d like to go, there are some important factors to consider in addition to location. Studies suggest that community college students enrolled in campus programs perform better and complete courses at a higher rate than online students. The reasons aren’t always clear, but the researchers recommend that schools prepare students for the challenges of online learning through special orientations, stay on the lookout for students at risk of dropping out, and offer more and better technical support and academic advising.
Before deciding to pursue an online degree, prospective applicants can research how well a community college has adopted these three recommendations. They can make a list of questions to determine how invested a college will be in their success, including:
Does the college offer an orientation geared specifically to online or hybrid students?
Can I speak to an academic adviser before committing to the school?
How do the college’s admissions officers describe the level and quality of technical support that students receive?
What do the school’s graduates say about their experiences?
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How Much Does Online College Cost
The average cost of online college in 2020 ranged from $9,600-$15,150 per year. Public online colleges offer the lowest tuition rate for in-state students, while students pay a higher amount for out-of-state and private college tuition.
Several factors shape the cost of online college, including the type of school, the degree level, and any online tuition discounts. In general, two-year colleges charge less than four-year colleges, and public universities cost less than private universities. Distance learners may benefit from online tuition discounts compared with on-campus tuition rates.
In addition, when considering online college costs, prospective students must also factor in the cost of housing and other expenses. Students often spend around $10,000 per year in expenses on top of tuition. College students can save on housing, commuting, and parking costs by taking their classes online.
Do Most Community Colleges Offer Online Courses And Online Degrees
With the rising popularity of online learning, students may wonder what their online options will be at community colleges. Although recent data is scarce, 92% of U.S. community colleges offered at least one online degree program in 2016. There is anecdotal evidence from around the country that community colleges will offer more online courses in the future than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prospective students may wonder which states have the most options for online community college. The most populous states tend to have a higher number of community colleges, which usually means that these states have more available online programs. For example, California offers thousands of online courses through 115 schools in its community college system, including classes for 21 associate degree programs.
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Snead State Community College
- Annual Tuition: $3,483
Snead State Community College offers 100% online associate degrees in business, elementary education, and pre-nursing. Most coursework for these programs is delivered through the Blackboard system. Although face-to-face meetings are not required, some courses may require exam proctoring. For prospective students who are unsure if they are ready for online learning, Snead State offers a technical skills self-assessment. Snead State maintains many affiliations and memberships to ensure that the colleges online program offerings are high quality. For example, the college is a member of the Alabama Consortium for Technology and Learning and subscribes to Quality Matters, an organization that focuses on evaluating the quality of online courses.
What Are The Job And Salary Outlooks For Online Community College Graduates
An associate degree from an accredited online college can make a big difference in employment outcomes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for associate degree-holders exceeds that of high school graduates by more than $150 per week.
In terms of finding work, associate degree-holders perform much better than those with only a high school diploma. The 7.1% unemployment rate for associate degree-holders equals the national average, whereas 9% of high school diploma-holders experience unemployment.
The examples below show some of the highest-paying professions available to associate degree-holders, along with the salaries from different experience levels.
Student Representation Fee Waiver
Students have the right to waive this fee by submitting a request to the Enrollment Center. The Student Representation Fee Waiver Form must be submitted prior to the earliest refund deadline for the students enrolled classes. For questions about the waiver, contact the Admissions and Records Office by email at or telephone at .
Its More Than Just Tuition
Students who attend community college save much more than just the cost of tuition. Most students live at home with their parents, saving hundreds of dollars every month on rent and utilities. This can add up to a few thousands over a period of two years. Especially if students are working part-time.
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How Can I Save Money
For information on how to obtain a student loan or government grants used for college, visit the US Department of Education.
Search for scholarships. Even if youre a returning parent coming back to college, there is a scholarship out there for everyone.
If planning on attending a four-year university after community college, be sure to take the exact classes that are going to transfer over to the university. There are some classes that wont transfer to the school. If youre unsure of what courses are going to transfer, its always best to meet with a school advisor.
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Reducing Costs Of Online Study
With affordability being the reason most students enroll in online college courses, students may look for more ways to shave even more off the cost of attendance. Some institutions offer online courses that utilize Open Educational Resources which are free course materials available to students and the public. MOOCs on the other hand are massive open online courses, which are usually free for auditing purposes and steeply discounted for students who utilize them for college credit.
- MOOCs used platforms such as coursera, edX, FutureLearn, and classcentral.
- Not all MOOCs meet standards for course credits.
- Students enrolling in un-credited courses may not earn a degree, but can earn certificates for courses, projects, and specializations.
- In 2020, MOOC enrollment surged, with over 180 million students online taking classes from 950 universities.
- Coursera saw its numbers surge to 31 million in 2020 from 8 million in 2019.
- Over 180 million learners have enrolled in MOOC classes since 2002.
- Many community colleges offer robust online programs for students seeking to complete general education credits at a lower cost than at a 4-year institution.
- Common transfer and articulation agreements with community colleges include 2+2 programs .
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How Do I Pay For Online Community College
Despite lower community college costs, students may still find paying for an education to be a challenge. To reduce financial stress, degree-seekers can take advantage of several financial aid programs. The section below examines some of the more popular support options available.
When applying for financial aid, completing the FAFSA form should be the first step. All the best accredited online colleges use this form to determine a student’s eligibility for federal aid. According to the Office of Federal Student Aid, learners across the country can gain access to more than $120 billion dollars in funding.
Completing a FAFSA form can lead to more than federal loans, including Pell Grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Students need their Social Security number and financial information to apply. For some types of aid, online students may need to enroll full time.
College loans may include federal aid and private bank loans. These often feature reduced interest charges while the student remains in school, but they do require repayment plus interest after graduation. Graduates struggling to manage their debt might want to pursue student loan refinancing and consolidation.
College grants are among the more attractive forms of financial aid because they do not require repayment. Grants typically provide funding to students who demonstrate financial need. Many grant programs require applicants to fill out the FAFSA for consideration.
Bucks County Community College
- Annual Tuition: $5,115
Bucks County Community College, a two-year institution of higher learning near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers 24 online associate degree programs. Students can choose from many different subjects, including business administration, computer science, emergency management, English , entrepreneurship and small business management, fire science, history, psychology, social work, and technical entrepreneurship. Coursework is delivered entirely online by the Canvas learning management system, but some programs require an internship or field work proctored testing may also be required. Approximately 12 percent of BCCC students are online learners, and the college has a retention rate of 68 percent.
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Online Tuition On The Rise
Tuition everywhere is going up, and 35% of schools indicated they were increasing their budget planning for online program development in 2021. The University of Oregon for example, has consistently raised tuition rates for online instruction for the past five years.
- Public two-year $12,850, a 17.5% increase from $10,781 in 2014.
- Public four-year $22,180, an 18.7% increase from $18,383 in 2014.
- Public four-year $38,640, a 19.6% increase from $31,721 in 2014.
- Private nonprofit four-year $50,770, a 21.4% increase from $40,955 in 2014.
- The University of Oregons online College of Business tuition has risen approximately 18% since 2016.
- The MBA program at the University of Oregon has increased by nearly 13%.
How Much Is Online Community College
A student’s choice of school and delivery method make a big impact on the price they pay. Many of the best accredited online colleges feature lower tuition rates than on-campus programs because of the limited space required to host students in classrooms.
In general, credits at community colleges usually cost less than at most four-year schools. In the sections below, we explore these price differences in greater detail, highlighting what kind of savings students can expect and what they may need to consider when comparing schools.
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Wallace State Community College
- Annual Tuition: $3,930
Wallace State Community College offers a wide variety of online associate degrees and certificates. These programs cover subjects such as art, business management, child development, criminal justice, computer science, and mathematics. Online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. For exam proctoring, WSCC uses the Respondus LockDown Browser system. Students have free access to the Microsoft Office suite and a tutoring lab to help with coursework in English, math, science, computer science, and writing.
Difficulties Paying For Online Tuition
In 2020, paying for online college was a difficult part of enrolling for online college. The table below is a list of the most expensive out-of-state online undergraduate degrees in 2018.
- 18% of students in 2020 indicated completing financial aid forms was the hardest part of the enrollment process.
- 18% also indicated determining how to pay for school was the biggest challenge.
- 26% indicated they would be more attracted to a school offering scholarships.
- Of that population, 29% indicated the annual scholarship would need to be over $2,500 to choose one school over another.
- 40% of students did not use or have access to employer tuition reimbursement.
- 48% indicated their school did not offer tuition discounts for employees at their company.
- 30% of students indicated they had incurred debt between $5,000 and $15,000 earning their online degree or certificate.
- In 1970, tuition for the University of North Carolinas MBA program was $87.50 per credit hour .
- In 2021, the program costs $237.5% more: $2,025 per credit hour.
- The total sticker price for the program in 2021 is $125,589.
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Ready To Start Your Journey
As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.
For many students, particularly those who struggle to meet the financial and academic demands of four-year colleges and universities, online community colleges provide an affordable alternative. Community colleges typically offer more accessible programs, often with accommodating admission requirements, smaller class sizes, and supportive student services.
Programs at online community colleges often feature practical training that helps students enter the workforce after graduation. Moreover, the transferability of credits received at these schools creates opportunities for further training. Due to lower community college costs, transferring can also be a useful strategy for reducing student debt.
Accredited online community colleges cost less than traditional schools and programs in many areas. Online students can save on travel and room and board, and many programs feature standard online rates for learners across the country.
In this guide, we examine the cheapest online community colleges and provide insight into choosing the best program and saving money along the way.
The Cost Of Online College
In general, online learning is a more affordable option, as you’ll get a high-quality education at a much lower cost due to the lower overhead needed to operate these programs. Not only does tuition tend to be lower, but many additional expenses, such as transportation costs and course materials, are eliminated in an online program.
However, it’s important to note that the average cost of online college is still a significant investment. Many people go into their search for a degree program assuming that online learning will be very inexpensive, and are often surprised when they find out that tuition is still relatively high. Even if you do your research and enroll in a high-quality affordable online college, you may still need to rely on federal financial aid and other resources to help pay for an online degree. It’s also important to note that most online programs do not offer the same kind of institutional aid as traditional, campus-based institutions.
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