The field of web-based learning has developed rapidly in recent years, making it a more viable option for potential students who are looking for a cost-efficient, flexible degree program. By taking a look at some of the high-level expenses and options associated with both traditional colleges and universities, and online degree programs, you’ll be able to better understand what questions to ask when researching the cost of an online bachelors degree and an on-campus college degree.
Tuition and fees vary depending on the program, college, and course load, but if you are looking for affordable online bachelor degree programs, here are some things to keep in mind:
- See if your college or university offers financial incentives if you take a certain number of credit hours per semester or session. Some affordable online colleges create these incentives to encourage you to graduate quicker.
- Check to see if there are any fees associated for things like labs, transcripts, background checks, assessments, and tech support. Many online colleges have a “technology fee,” which can cover things like 24/7 tech and student support, systems improvements, or the cost of maintaining an online management system.
- Many traditional colleges have miscellaneous fees that are rolled into your overall tuition. These fees may include things like legal services, student organizations, and security. Online colleges tend to have fewer of these types of fees, but it’s important to look at the fine print no matter which type of school you choose to attend.
- Some online colleges, like traditional institutions, have increased fees for out-of-state students.
- Other costs of a traditional school, like housing, transportation, and meal plans will not factor into the final cost of a bachelors degree
There can be additional expenses involved with attending both online and on-campus programs, and these should be taken into consideration. One of the common misconceptions of affordable online colleges is that there may be fewer costs associated with books and supplies. However, books and supplies cost about the same for both online colleges, and on-campus colleges. While not always the case, some online and on-campus schools will require physical textbooks in order to enroll in courses.
Personal computers or laptops are another cost consideration for online and on-campus schools. While most students own or have access to a computer, classes at both types of institutions will likely require a heavy reliance on one of these devices, as well as the ability to regularly access the internet.
It is important that your online university is regionally accredited, or recognized for meeting certain criteria by organizations like the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). These organizations strive to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality.
When it comes to financing your education, keep in mind that, certain financial aid options are only available for accredited universities.
Programs like FAFSA® are available through the federal government for qualified students looking to attend colleges, both traditional and online. Students must fill out the FAFSA® each year that they wish to receive federal financial assistance.
State and private agencies also offer financial aid, grants, and/or scholarships, but you must first check to see what is available for your program of study and if you meet the basic eligibility requirements. Here is a valuable online resource that may help you find financial aid opportunities.
Expect institutions to have a satisfactory academic performance policy for students that receive financial aid. This means students may be required to maintain a certain GPA or course load, in terms of credits or hours, to remain eligible for specific financial aid.
Affordable online bachelor degree programs and traditional on-campus colleges and universities offer different types of payment plans depending on the course load or program. Payment plans may include deferrals, incentives for paying in full, tuition reimbursement, and loan forgiveness.
When choosing between a traditional college or an affordable online college, be sure to research your options upfront and use the resources available to you to ensure you can afford your school of choice.