Top 10 Least Expensive Online Colleges

Looking for an affordable online college program that will help you earn a degree without breaking the bank? Well, there are countless top-notch learning institutions that offer online programs. Not only do they provide students with flexible schedules, but they offer convenience and affordability that makes them an excellent option for students who struggle with time or money management.

The good news is that online learning provides a valuable studying experience, but it does not have to be expensive. Whether you are looking for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, you can access the top-notch online programs at a reasonable fee. Here are some of the least expensive online colleges that offer quality education and degrees at a pocket-friendly cost.

Introduction: Overview of Least Expensive Online Colleges

This article provides a guide to the least expensive online colleges that offer high-quality education at an affordable price point.

Section 1: Top 5 Least Expensive Online Colleges

This section highlights the top 5 least expensive online colleges, including their tuition fees, program offerings, and accreditation status.

Section 2: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Least Expensive Online College

This section discusses the key factors that students should consider when choosing a least expensive online college, such as reputation, accreditation, program quality, and financial aid options.


Higher education has become a necessity for many people seeking better job prospects and a fulfilling career. However, pursuing a college degree can be quite expensive, and many cannot afford it. Fortunately, with the proliferation of online education, students can access affordable education from their homes without breaking the bank. In this article, we explore the least expensive online colleges that offer quality programs to help students achieve their academic goals.

What to look for in an online college?

Choosing the right online college requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some of the essential things to look out for:

  • Accreditation: Ensure the online college is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency to guarantee the quality of education and the accreditation of your degree.
  • Tuition fees and financial aid: Look for affordable online colleges with tuition fees within your budget, and inquire about available scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Program options: Choose an online college that offers your preferred field of study or major and has a robust curriculum and quality instructional design.
  • Flexibility: Consider online colleges that offer flexibility in class schedules, course delivery, and self-paced learning.

Top 5 least expensive online colleges

In no particular order, here are five of the least expensive online colleges that offer quality programs:

Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College is a for-profit online college that offers undergraduate degree programs in various fields such as business management, criminal justice, and allied health. The college’s tuition fees are quite affordable, averaging $79-$149 per credit, depending on the program. Additionally, Penn Foster College accepts credits earned from other schools and provides flexible learning schedules.

Ashworth College

Ashworth College is a for-profit online college that offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs that cover fields such as business, healthcare, and criminal justice. Ashworth’s tuition fees are also quite affordable, averaging $64-$120 per credit hour, depending on the program. Additionally, the college offers self-paced learning, flexible enrollment dates, and multiple payment options for students.

Georgia Southwestern State University

Georgia Southwestern State University is a public online college that offers undergraduate degree programs in various fields such as business, education, and nursing. The college’s tuition fees are relatively low, averaging $164 per credit hour for in-state students and $603 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Additionally, the university offers financial aid, scholarships, and grants to qualifying students and has a growing reputation for quality online programs.

University of the People

University of the People is a non-profit, tuition-free online college that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields such as computer science, business administration, and education. The college operates on a peer-to-peer learning model and only charges nominal fees ranging from $60-$100 for application and assessment fees per course. University of the People is accredited by recognized accrediting agencies and offers students a quality and affordable education.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University is a public online college that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in various fields such as education, nursing, and history. The college’s tuition fees are quite affordable and start at $218 per credit hour for online students. Additionally, Fort Hays State University offers financial aid, scholarships, and grants to eligible students. The college has a robust online learning platform that provides students with quality courses and support services.


Pursuing a college degree can be affordable. However, it requires careful consideration of several factors, such as accreditation, tuition fees, program options, and flexibility. The online colleges listed above offer quality programs and affordable tuition fees to help students achieve their academic goals without breaking the bank. Be sure to research and compare online colleges before settling for one that suits your needs and budget.

FAQ: Least Expensive Online Colleges

Question 1: What are the advantages of enrolling in an affordable online college?

Cost may be the most convincing reason, but opting for an affordable online college presents a more flexible and convenient approach to education. You can work from home, in a coffee shop, or anywhere else, depending on your preference. Moreover, free of fixed schedules, you can attend live classes and review recorded lectures at your preferred timeframe. You can also work around a job or family obligation or even fast track an unsuitable program and aim for a new career pathway.

Question 2: Can I get a good degree without spending much?

It depends on how you define “good.” While some employers attach importance to the reputation and ranking of your alma mater, many others prioritize your relevant experience, skills, and personality traits. Just because an online college costs less doesn’t necessarily mean it offers a lower quality of education. The best thing you can do is research options that align with your goals and aspirations, read reviews and ratings, and check accreditation and the quality of instructors.

Question 3: How do I know if an online college is legitimate and accredited?

The first thing you should do is check whether the online college has accreditation from a reputable agency. The United States Department of Education publishes a list of reliable accreditation agencies. This typically means that the curriculum, administrative processes, and learning outcomes of the program offered meet a high standard. Legitimate online colleges usually publish their accreditation status and any other relevant information on their websites. You can also ask the college for more information or look for reviews from education authorities.

Question 4: Do affordable online colleges have a lower tuition fee for in-state students?

Yes, and this is one of the advantages of choosing an online college based in your home state. Because you are an in-state student, you are eligible for a lower tuition fee, which should offset or cover the extra expense of taking online courses. If you choose an online college out-of-state, you may still be eligible for tuition reciprocity agreements, scholarships, or other forms of financial assistance. It’s always good to check your state’s policies and resources for online education.

Question 5: Can I apply for financial aid or scholarships with online colleges?

Yes, you can, but the amount and availability of scholarships depend on the college and the program. Scholarships can be merit-based, need-based, or program-specific. To be considered for scholarships or grants, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Eligibility for federal loans, such as Perkins or Stafford, also depends on your FAFSA. Additionally, you should check with your state’s financial aid office for any opportunities tailored for online students.

Question 6: Can I transfer credits earned from an affordable online college to another institution?

Again, this varies among colleges and institutions, but most online colleges have transfer agreements with other online and campus-based colleges. Before enrolling, it’s essential to know which credits transfer and which don’t, as well as the conditions for transferring credits. You may also have to meet a minimum cumulative GPA or other academic requirements. To avoid complications, it’s good to check with both the college you are transferring from and the college you are transferring to for more information and support.

Question 7: What options are available for online support, such as advising, career services, and technical assistance?

Affordable online colleges typically offer student support services similar to those provided by traditional campus-based institutions. These may include academic advising, career development support, library resources, writing centers, and IT technical support. Many colleges have a 24/7 technical assistance hotline or chatbot. Some have created their online community, such as student forums, virtual clubs, and social media groups, where students can receive peer support and share resources.

Question 8: How long does it take to complete an online degree program?

Again, this depends on several factors, such as credit and transfer policies, the program’s pace, your schedule, and course load. Typically, an online degree program takes the same amount of time to complete as an on-campus program. Many colleges provide an estimated timeline and pathway to graduation when you enroll. Some programs have accelerated options or self-paced arrangements that allow you to complete your degree more quickly. These customized program choices might come with their unique expenses.

Question 9: Are there online colleges that offer hands-on training, internships or practicum experience?

Yes, some online colleges do provide opportunities for hands-on practice, such as internships, practicum, or residency programs. You should check with the college or program you’re considering for any experiential learning opportunities. Some colleges and programs partner with local and national companies to offer real-world exposure to students in their field of study. Others offer virtual simulations, case studies, and capstone projects that simulate a real-life environment for you to gain practical skills.

Question 10: What are some of the most affordable online colleges?

There are many online colleges that offer affordable tuition fees, but to mention a few:

  • University of the People – non-profit, tuition-free, online university.
  • Western Governors University – a competency-based, low-fee online college with a flexible schedule.
  • Georgia Southwestern State University – offers over a dozen affordable online degrees and certificates.
  • Colorado State University Global Campus – a regionally accredited university with affordable tuition for most degree programs, including business, healthcare, and information technology.
  • College of the Ozarks – a private Christian college with a no-tuition policy for work-study students.
  • Central Christian College of Kansas – a private college that provides affordable tuition and 100% online options in business management, education, healthcare, and psychology.

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