Have you ever wondered if it was possible to study online at a cheap rate? You are in luck if you have because, in this article, I have highlighted the cheapest online universities in the USA.
There is no doubt that studying online is an amazing experience. From the flexibility of your study schedule to the comfort that studying anywhere you choose brings, online study has so many advantages that people desire. However, there is a popular saying that “anything that has an advantage has a disadvantage” and online education is no exception, read through our article on the advantages and disadvantages of online education to fully understand my point.
However, some online universities have outrageous fees. To help you find the ones that come at cheaper rates, we compiled this list of the cheapest online universities in the USA.
Want to know more about these affordable online universities in the USA? Then, continue reading.
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Which US University is the Cheapest?
Generally, universities in the US are not cheap. The United States has high academic standards and a high level of industrialization. So, to study in such a setting, you would need to splash some cash.
The high rate of tuition in the US is further demonstrated by the increasing rate of student debt.
Notwithstanding, some cheap universities cost only as little as a few hundred dollars. Some even go for free! However, we would focus on the cheapest US university.
One university considered the cheapest in the country is the University of the People and I support this view.
The University of the People
The University of the People is a non-profit private university in Pasadena, California. It is unarguably among the cheapest online universities in the USA, and the world at large. The university has given education in the US a new dimension as it is a tuition-free university.
The University of the People is also fully online, and the courses are taught by volunteers who have previously made an impact in the academic space.
It offers two-year associate and four-year bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, and health science. The university also offers an MBA program. The International Baccalaureate (IB) and the University of the People (UoPeople) have recently established a tuition-free online Master of Education (M.Ed.).
However, application to the University of the People is not entirely free as you are required to pay an application fee of $60. At the end of each course, you will also have to pay an assessment fee of $120 for undergraduate studies and $240 for graduate studies.
The requirements to get into the University of the People are also minimal. It admits students who have completed high school, have access to a computer and the Internet, and are fluent in English.
What is the Cheapest and Easiest Online College in the USA?
Everybody wants to get things done where it is cheap and easy. There is so much financial and physical stress today that you would not want your studying to add to these stresses.
There are several affordable online universities in the USA, but which ones are also easy to get? We have highlighted one of them below.
Penn State World Camp
Penn State World Campus is the online campus of Penn State University. It is also one of the cheapest US universities online. Though it is relatively inexpensive, it is still among the best online university. It ranks 8th on the U.S. News and Online Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
Furthermore, it is a stress-free college as you can easily earn a diploma without hassle.
Penn State World Campus offers 35 fully online bachelor’s degrees in fields such as Economics, Cyber Security, Marketing, and Political Science. Aside from major degrees, you can also opt for minors to add to the strength of your certificate.
Penn State World Campus uses Canvas as the platform for online learning. On this platform, you get extra touring and mentorship programs to make studying easier.
Penn State World Campus makes learning easy and flexible. The programs require only 12 hours of study a week.
To learn about the degrees and certifications offered by Penn State World Campus, see Online Degrees and Certificates.
How Much Do Online Courses Cost in the USA?
Online courses require different fees depending on the university and the course. However, you can earn an online degree at a cheap rate if you go to some of the cheapest online universities in the USA.
The fees can also come in varying structures. Some charge a flat rate for the entire bachelor’s program, while others demand payment of fees per semester. Some others charge based on credit hours.
Whichever structure the university decides, you can be sure to get the worth of your money from any of the affordable online universities in the USA listed in this article.
Most online universities charge based on credit hours. So, based on credit hours, the average cost of an undergraduate online course per credit hour is $282 according to the U.S News and World Report. However, some online universities charge as low as $80 and others as high as $400 per credit hour.
It is also important to note that online graduate courses cost a little more. An online graduate course costs around $300 per credit hour.
However, some discounts apply based on several criteria. For example, most online universities have different prices for in-state and out-of-state tuition.
Students studying while living outside the state pay twice as high as those living in the state. However, whatever state you choose, be sure that the university has gained accreditation for that state.
Are Online Degrees Valid in the USA?
There is a tendency of the average American to look down on a certificate gained online. This is because people have become accustomed to on-site education, so have a hard time embracing the gradual transition to online education.
However, this apathy among some groups of people does not reduce the efficacy of an online degree. An online degree is 100% valid in the US.
Many other countries including third-world countries are beginning to embrace online education. In these countries too, your online degree is as valid as the one gotten from on-site learning.
11 Cheapest Online Universities in the USA
- Fayetteville University
- Fort Hays State University Virtual College
- Oregon State University E-campus
- Georgia Southern University
- Northwestern State University
- Lamar University
- American Public University System
- Sam Houston State University
- Georgia College and State University
- University of North Florida
- Western Illinois University
Average tuition: $6,969 per annum.
Fayetteville University is one of the best and cheapest online universities in the USA. However, the university has only a few undergraduate and graduate programs that are fully online including degrees in Accounting.
To learn more about this university, see Academic Program Finder.
Fort Hays State University Virtual College
Average tuition: $186 per credit hour.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Fort Hays State University Virtual College is also among the best and cheapest US universities online. The university offers online programs in fields such as Business Education, business administration, Elementary Education, Criminal Justice, Information Networking and Communications, Marketing, Management, Human Resource Management, and Nursing.
To learn more about this college, see Fort Hays State University Online.
Oregon State University E-campus
Average tuition: $191 per credit hour.
If you are looking to study at one of the cheapest online universities in the USA, then Oregon State University E-campus is one you should consider. It offers 20 online bachelor’s programs and 12 online graduate degree programs. The fields include business administration, early childhood education, sports and health sciences, criminal justice, and human development.
To learn more about the programs offered by this university, see Online Degrees and Programs.
Read Also: List of Fake Online Universities | US, UK
Georgia Southern University
Average tuition: $199 per credit hour.
Georgia Southern University offers 25 online graduate degree programs. However, they offer only 2 online bachelor’s programs in General Studies and Information Technology. You can earn a master’s degree online in fields such as Early Childhood Education, Criminal Justice, Business, Health Sciences, Human Sciences, Engineering, and Information Technology. Graduate students can even earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
To learn more about this university, see Online Programs | Georgia Southern University.
Northwestern State University
Average tuition: $206 per credit hour.
The online campus of Northwestern State University is called eNSU Global Campus. The eNSU Global Campus offers 35 online bachelor’s programs at a cheap rate. The programs are in fields such as criminal justice, business administration, Accounting, Radiological Science, and Nursing, and master’s degrees in Teaching, Homeland Security, and Nursing.
Average tuition: $208 per credit hour.
Lamar University (LU) has an LU Online Campus which makes learning very flexible, especially for working-class individuals and those serving in the military. It offers several online programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. It also offers an RN to BSN completion program for Nursing students.
Lamar University is also among the cheapest online universities in the USA. The average tuition per credit hour is only $208.
To learn more about this university, see LU Online – Lamar University.
American Public University System
Average tuition: $250 per credit hour.
American Public University System is a for-profit university also listed among the top universities by U.S. News and World Report. The university was first founded for military personnel to allow them to gain a certificate. However, the application is now open to the general public.
American Public University System offers a wider range of online degree programs in fields such as Accounting, Cyber security, Criminal Justice, Education, and National Security Studies.
American Public University System being among the cheapest online universities in the USA has its average tuition per credit hour at $250.
To learn more about this university, see American Public University System.
Sam Houston State University
Average tuition: $204 per credit hour.
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) has also gained acknowledgment from the U.S. News and World Report over the years. The university offers more than 25 online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some of the courses include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Band Conducting, Digital Forensics, and Homeland Security, among many others.
Sam Houston State University is also among the cheapest online universities in the USA with its average tuition as low as $204 per credit hour.
To learn more about this university, see SHSU Online.
Georgia College and State University
Average tuition: $232 per credit hour.
Georgia College and State University is another university offering online programs in Georgia. It offers top-notch online master’s degrees including an MFA in creative writing and an MS in Nursing.
It is also among the cheapest online universities in the USA with its average tuition at $232 per credit hour.
To learn more about this university, see Georgia College and State University.
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University of North Florida
Average tuition: $285 per credit hour.
The University of North Florida has gained recognition as one of the best and cheapest online universities in the USA by the Princeton Review and Forbes. It offers quality online programs in Criminal Justice, Computer Science, Nutrition, and Dietetics and also RN to BSN programs.
Western Illinois University
Average tuition: $293.50 per credit hour.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Western Illinois University is one of the best online universities in the USA. It also offers several online courses including Computer Science, RN to BSN completion, and Criminal Justice, among many others.
Western Illinois University has a low tuition fee so it is one of the cheapest online universities in the USA. Its average tuition fee per credit hour is $293.50.
To learn more about the programs offered by this university, see Online Programs – WIU.
Top 5 American Universities That Offer Online Degrees
We have listed five(5) top universities in the US that offer online degrees below. These universities are also among the cheapest online universities in the USA:
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Arizona State University
- The University of Florida Online
- Purdue University
- University of Minnesota
Arizona State University
Average tuition: $561–$661 per credit hour.
In addition to being a top online university, Arizona State University (ASU) is also among the cheapest online universities in the USA. The tuition fee is around $561–$661. This is a very good price considering the top-notch academic services you can get from the university.
The university offers several 100% online courses with over 300 certificates that students can acquire from their programs.
To learn more about this university, see Explore ASU Online Degrees.
Southern New Hampshire University
Average tuition: $320 per credit hour.
Southern New Hampshire University has the sole mission of helping students attain success. They offer more than 150 online courses that you can choose from.
The cost of tuition is around $320 per credit hour for an undergraduate course. Graduate courses are slightly higher.
To learn more about this university, see About Southern New Hampshire University.
The University of Florida Online
Average tuition: $129 for in-state and $553 for out-of-state.
The University of Florida Online is the online campus of the parent university. It provides 25 undergraduate majors and 11 minors in fields such as advertising, computer science, environmental management, psychology, and sports management.
To learn more about this college, see Online Bachelor’s Degrees and Programs.
Read Also: 12 Accredited Online Universities in Nigeria.
Average tuition: $270–$1,300 per credit hour.
Purdue University is a public research university with a unique drive for breakthrough technological developments. It offers degrees in fields such as Education, Law, and Legal Studies, Nursing, Engineering, among many others.
To learn more about the programs from Purdue University, see Online Degree Programs From the Purdue Univesity System.
University of Minnesota
Average tuition: $419 per credit hour.
Unlike the aforementioned, the University of Minnesota offers both synchronous and asynchronous course formats. The online university offers both undergraduate and graduate courses.
The University of Minnesota is also among the cheapest online universities in the USA. It charges an average tuition fee of $419.
To learn more about this university, see University of Minnesota Online.
Can I Get A Student Visa For An Online University in the USA?
Student visas give a foreign student access to study in a particular country. To study in the USA as an international student, you need to have a student visa.
However, the rules are not the same with fully-online programs. A fully-online program does not require the physical presence of the student, so a student visa is not necessary. Hence, the embassy would deny your application for a student visa if you intend to study a fully online program.
On the other hand, courses that are partly online and partly on-site require you to have a student visa since your studies will require your physical presence at the university.
Can International Students Take Online Courses in the US?
Although some online courses restrict individuals from a certain demographic, some others are open to the international community.
So as an international student, there are several online courses in the US that you can take. Almost half of the online courses available in the US are open to international students.
You also have the opportunity to apply to some of the cheapest online universities in the USA as an international student. These affordable universities make it more of a fair bargain for you considering other costs you must have incurred such as exchange rates. Scholarships also add to the advantages you can get as an international student.
Read Also: 19 cheapest online MSW Programs in California.
Which Student Visa Is Easy to Get in the USA?
There are three (3) types of student visas that the US Embassy can issue to you as an international student. They are F1, J1 and M1.
F1 and J1 make you employable during your study in the US. However, they do not guarantee your employment.
Whereas, M1 does not allow you to gain any form of employment during your study in the US.
We can see that M1 is the least likely option that anyone would want to go for so it is the easiest to get.
How Do I Know If My Degree Is Valid in the USA?
Nobody wants to go through the hassle of studying a course only to find out that the course is not valid in the country where you decide to work. It is advisable to check if your degree is valid in that particular country.
The one sure way to know your degree is recognized in the US is by checking its accreditation. Also, the accreditation must come from a recognized accreditation body in the USA.
Secondly, it is important to check the governing rules of the state you choose to work in the USA to know the specific requirements that apply to your degree.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cheapest Online Universities in the USA
Can I trust cheap online universities?
You can trust a cheap online university as long as it has accreditation from the appropriate accreditation board or agency.
Can I get financial aid from cheap online universities in the USA?
The answer is yes. You can get financial aid even from some of the cheapest online universities in the USA.
Are all online schools accredited?
No, not all online schools are accredited. This is why you should research to ensure the school you eventually choose has gained accreditation from the appropriate bodies. All the schools we listed in this article have gained accreditation.
What study resources are available to me as an online student?
Most online universities have separate centers for study materials which could be online or on-site. Contact the university to confirm how you can get the study resources.
Is a minor as important as a major in online programs?
Many online universities make selecting a minor compulsory. However, some other online universities do not. A minor may be important but not as important as a major, especially in universities that do not require a minor.
So, there you have it! In this article, we have highlighted 11 of the cheapest online universities in the USA. Despite the low tuition, these universities also offer nothing short of quality online education.
If you are in the military, a working-class individual, or someone who appreciates flexibility in academics, then these universities we have listed are among those you should consider.
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I am Okpara Chibuike Blessius Francis, writer at Certificate Programs Online — A student of Cyber Security at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO). I love the Cyber World and I am a crypto enthusiast.
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