The 10 Least Expensive Online Colleges for In-State Students

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Students living in Florida and North Carolina have several choices among online bachelor’s programs with inexpensive tuition rates. (Getty Images)
The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: CollegeThe Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.
Online learning can be a cost-efficient way to pay for college – especially at state institutions that charge inexpensive rates per credit.
Among the 145 ranked public online colleges that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average cost for in-state students was slightly more than $305 per credit during the 2017-2018 school year.
The average in-state total program cost was around $37,200; total program cost doesn’t take into account any forms of financial aid, scholarships or extra student fees.
Daytona State College in Florida topped the list of cheapest public online bachelor’s degree programs for in-state students, costing only $92 per credit, U.S. News data show. With 120 credits required for graduation, the total tuition for its bachelor’s program comes to $11,040.
Among the 10 online bachelor’s degree programs with the lowest in-state tuition, the average cost per credit was roughly $123, with an average total tuition cost of slightly more than $14,890, U.S. News data show.
The average number of credits needed to graduate in 2017-2018 among the 145 ranked online programs that reported these data was around 122 credits.
An in-state student who took 30 credits in one year at $123 per credit, the average cost among the 10 least expensive programs, paid $3,690 in tuition. That’s less than half the average in-state tuition and fees in 2017-2018 for students who attended a full-time program on campus. According to U.S.
News data, the average in-state sticker price for attending college on campus was slightly more than $9,500 in 2017-2018.
Students living in Florida and North Carolina have several choices among online bachelor’s programs with inexpensive tuition rates. Among the schools with the least expensive per-credit costs for in-state students, five schools are located in the Sunshine State and four are based in North Carolina.
At the other end of the spectrum, Temple University in Pennsylvania charged in-state students $595 per credit for its online bachelor’s program – the highest rate among any ranked school that reported these data to U.S. News. Students must complete 124 credits to graduate, bringing the total cost of in-state tuition to nearly $74,000.
Below is a list of the online bachelor’s degree programs where in-state students had the lowest cost per credit for the 2017-2018 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
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 CollegesBest Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs.
The cost per credit data above are correct as of July 17, 2018.