Surprise, surprise, the majority of the cheapest online colleges are non-profit, public institutions. The University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, Macon State College – these guys have been helping traditional residential students get educated since the 1870s.
These colleges offer online degrees on the cheap to all residents of the USA. You do NOT have to be a state “resident” to enjoy the low tuition and fees charged by online learning bachelor degree programs offered by state colleges in places like Wyoming, Georgia, Colorado, and Nebraska. In these states, where the cost of living remains low, the cost of a college degree likewise rings in well below the national average.
Two regionally accredited distance-learning colleges in the United States—Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey and Excelsior College of New York—operate primarily as assessment colleges. These two special colleges allow students to earn entire undergraduate degrees through credit for life and work experience options.
However, most learners who attend these two colleges also complete some formal college courses to earn their degrees.
Instead, surveys show just the opposite – online college costs might actually be higher than residential college costs. The cost of masters degrees, online MBAs especially, are often higher than the equivalent on-campus versions.
While consumers often consider the University of Phoenix to be the standard for delivering a low-cost, mass market, campus-free college experience —in short, the flagship example of a cheap online college — the exact opposite is factually true.
The University of Phoenix’s Online College of Business and Management offers one of the most expensive online bachelor degrees. Their $66,000 degree, well above the $44,000 average degree cost, actually puts them in the bottom 15% affordability-wise of all 150 regionally accredited online bachelors in business surveyed. As of 2011, consumers could get the same degree from the University of Wyoming Online for only $16,000.
If you have to have the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’ (AACSB) stamp of approval on your MBA, The University of Louisiana Monroe offers the cheapest such MBA at a price tag of $8,990 for online students nationwide.
(More college accreditation trivia: the AACSB is considered the gold standard for business school accreditation. Academics equate this type of accreditation with a rigorous, traditional business school education. I won’t tell you that your MBA must have AACSB accreditation; I will tell you that many recruiters and Wall Street wing-tip types see AACSB accreditation as a platinum stamp of old school approval.)