How Much Does an Online College Education Cost?

Earning your college degree online will cost you as much, if not more than a traditional college education. Online education costs vary due to the type of college chosen or the courses enrolled in. Read below for specifics on cost breakdowns and trends in getting a college education online.

What is the Tuition for Online Education?

Online education offers a great way to brush up on your skills through single courses, associate's, bachelor's or master's degree programs. The cost of getting a college education online varies depending on the type of degree you are looking for and the type of school you choose to attend.

U.S. News & World Report provided figures for the costs of online, public colleges in September 2013. They reported that an incoming freshman college student could expect to pay an average of $31,111for a 4-year degree. The most expensive 4-year degree program reported was at Pennsylvania State University--World Campus. The cost was $60,480. The lowest bachelor's program was offered for $11,400 at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

How is the Cost for Online College Education Determined?

If you want to pursue your education online, you will most likely be charged per credit or credit hour. Prices per credit hour will depend on if the course is a lower-division or upper-division class. Graduate courses tend to cost more than their undergraduate counterparts. Online education cost may also be subject to application fees, courses and materials fees, and other student service fees, depending on the online school or program.

Trends in Online Education

In July 2009, the Hartford Courant released a story that cited enrollment for classes taken online increased during 2006-2007 by 12% across the nation, doubling the number of students that had been completing online classes in 2002. Additionally, in a 2008 Sloan Consortium survey, it was concluded that online education is currently outpacing the growth rate of the traditional classrooms. The Sloan Consortium went on to state that factors such as higher costs in traditional college courses and the economic state contributed to the increase in getting a college education online.

While growth means more students enrolled in online programs, it may not mean lower costs thanks to new government regulations. The government is stepping in to provide more regulation for online education due to its popularity. Forbes.com reported in 2012 that new government regulations effective in July 2011 cost online educators a combined $900 million.

So, what does this growth mean for tuition costs? If new regulations keep coming, it will increase the operating costs for all institutions, which will likely be passed on to the student. While college attempt to avoid this, sometimes it is inevitable that it will happen, which means higher tuition costs for you.

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