Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the top 19 online colleges and universities with open admissions. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: admissions rate (20%) + default rate (20%) + retention rate (20%) + graduation rate (20%) + percent of students enrolled in online classes (20%) = final score.
Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) strives to provide all types of students access to the most affordable education possible, with access to quality on-campus, web-enhanced, blended and fully online programs and courses. Through the Technical Education Center (TEC), students can enroll in skill-based, hands-on degree and certificate programs such as cosmetology, automotive, early childhood education and networking technology. High school students can participate in the dual enrollment Pioneer Career Center STEM+ program, which teaches criminal justice, cybersecurity, biomanufacturing, and robotics, and prepares students to start their career in an entry-level position, earn an associate degree, or use credits to transfer to a four-year college. Online program options through KCKCC include general studies, office administration, business, marketing and computer systems networking. Tuition cost is determined by course load and residency, making it the least expensive for Kansas residents, but discounted tuition rates are available to Missouri residents residing in specific counties. Military students may be able to receive credits for military service, and reverse-transfer credits may be a cost-cutting option for some students.
University of Maryland University College Online offers more than 90 academic programs, with more than 25 locations in the U.S. and more than 140 extended campuses worldwide. As one of the country's open admission colleges, the only admissions requirement for undergraduate students is to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED; no standardized test scores or minimum GPA is required to qualify for enrollment. Prospective graduate students are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher learning institution to be granted admission into an advanced program.
In general, yes. Tuition at open enrollment schools tend to be lower than selective four-year colleges. That's because most open enrollment colleges are community colleges that strive to give lower-income students more access to a college education. But there's one caveat – although they typically have open enrollment policies, some for-profit schools are more expensive than comparable nonprofit colleges.
A geological formation is the inspiration behind the name of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Oil fields surround the university that enrolls more than 7,000 students. Both undergraduate and graduate academic programs exist at the public school. Class flexibility is derived through the university's evening, part-time course schedules and online programs. Financial aid comes through scholarships, loans and grants. As one of the most affordable universities, each year, UTPB distributes about $15 million in financial aid. Besides scholarships, loans and grants, financial support comes through state exemptions and waivers, work-study programs and the Falcon Promise Program. Top academic performers who earn a 3.25 GPA or higher and complete at least a 30-hour-a-year course load could qualify for an earn-in scholarship.
Jackson State University takes a strong institutional research approach. Founded in 1877, the school is located in Jackson, Mississippi. This historically black college and university (HBCU) awards undergraduate and graduate degrees, including 46 bachelor's degrees, 37 master's degrees and 13 doctoral degrees. A state-supported school and one of the most affordable, Jackson's in-state tuition is about $7,141 a year. Out-of-state tuition is more than double the cost of in-state tuition. The majority of the university's student population consists of returning undergraduates, followed by transfer or returning graduate students. Federal, state, private and institutional financial support is available. To qualify for financial aid, students may need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application.
Wayland Baptist University has been offering online courses for nearly two decades, and they've done an excellent job of making sure that their online courses match the quality of their on-campus courses. Now WBU offers more than just courses with entire online programs available at different levels. The most popular level of study at WBU online is the graduate level as there are 11 different master's degree options available. With four sessions a year, students can easily complete their degree faster than they would be able to if they were to study on-campus. For the quality of the education, WBU online is considered one the cheapest ways to earn a degree from an accredited university.
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Since 1985, Collin College has served more than 53,000 annual students seeking credit and continuing education. Collin is the only public college in the county, offering more than 100 degrees and certificates in a variety of disciplines. The college has received numerous awards for its faculty, which includes authors, patent holders, noted scholars and experts noted in their fields. Offering one of the most affordable educations in the state, Collin College students can apply for federal financial and/or state aid, Collin College Foundation scholarships, campus work study jobs, and/or student loans. Collin College has partnered with a variety of colleges and universities to help ease students' transfer of courses and programs. In addition to the book learning, one of the best ways to enjoy campus life at Collin College is to get involved. The school offers a variety of opportunities from sports to community to events.

The initial practice of open admissions coincided with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. This sweeping admissions policy promoted the diversification of postsecondary student populations across the country and continues to boast numerous benefits. With substantial financial aid opportunities, online open enrollment colleges empower students to earn a degree and advance professionally regardless of their current situation. Students who are not strong test takers can pursue a degree without the added stress of performing well on costly college entrance exams. Relying on placement test scores, online open enrollment colleges ensure that students receive the academic training appropriate for their educational level. Students with high placement test scores opt out of basic courses, which saves them time and money. Additionally, some colleges with open admissions feature no tuition costs and provide access to free classes and free technology, such as laptops and writing software.
Cities closest to Tempe, Arizona are Mesa and Phoenix. Arts, sports and outdoor events are all part of the culture in Tempe, but the city is really known for Arizona State University-Tempe, one of the most affordable research schools that promotes innovation and leadership. In addition to 17 schools, the university operates more than a dozen centers and institutions. Nursing and health innovation, law, engineering, business and mass communication are among the school's majors, and many of these majors can be completed online. Cost to earn a certificate starts at $490 per credit, and each credit to earn a graduate degree starts at $512. Undergraduate students can expect to pay $510 per credit and up. Scholarships, grants and student loans can help students offset the cost of tuition.
Getting into a top online college or university is a competitive process. Using criteria such as standardized test scores, prior GPA, recommendation letters, and character assessment, competitive admissions enables schools to be selective in assembling their student body, as well as practice quality control. Online classes demand a high level of peer interaction as part of the learning process, so accepting students with proven academic ability makes it more likely that the school can provide a better experience for everyone in the virtual classroom.
Also of interest are the trajectories of recent high school graduates who do not immediately enroll in college. Most find jobs, but those who do not tend to skew low-income. Just 6% of high-income recent graduates are neither employed nor enrolled in college, compared to 19% of low-income recent graduates. Just 3% of recent high school graduates pursue any sort of vocational training, a proportion which varies little across income groups.
Students choose to study through the University of Idaho's distance learning program for different reasons, with independent study being among the most popular. The independent study online program allows students to study at their own pace while in individual courses or a degree program. One of the most popular fields of study for online students at the University of Idaho is their graduate engineering program. There are currently eight different master's degrees in engineering offered that can be completed entirely online, ideal for students who have a busy work schedule or family life. Another online option is their summer session which allows students to study the same quality courses in half the time. The summer session offers in-state tuition to all students, making it one of the fastest and cheapest ways to earn your degree online.

California's second-largest private, nonprofit university, National is known for promoting diversity and inclusion through its year-round open enrollment admissions policy. The school maintains 27 campuses throughout California and one Nevada location. Students admitted to National can access an extensive virtual library and deep discounts on textbooks, as well as competitive buyback prices and free shipping, made possible through a partnership with the country's largest mail order textbook supplier.

Located in Malvern, the College of the Ouachitas is a public, two-year institution providing quality campus-based and online programs in academic, career, and tech disciplines. COTO serves 3,500 students in the Arkansas counties of Dallas, Clark, Grant, Hot Spring and Saline, and students benefit from one of the most affordable tuition rates in the college's service area. COTO was also ranked among the Aspen Institute of College Excellence's list of the top 10 community colleges in the nation. The two-year school offers courses leading to the Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, and Associate of Business degrees. In 2016, the college received a $2.24 million grant to improve distance education. This year, COTO's 12 online college programs offer five associate degrees and seven certificates.
Open enrollment, sometimes called open admission, means a college's only admission criteria is that students have a high school diploma or GED. That's right – the school will accept all applicants with proof of successful high school completion or the equivalent. Space may be limited, though, so if there are more applicants than available seats, some may be waitlisted.

For students looking for online colleges in Arizona, Yavapai College (YC) has several online associate degree general education tracks that can transfer to a local, public university, providing the most affordable path towards a bachelor's or graduate degree. If a students' desire to enter the workforce with a trade or skills to advance in their chosen careers, several other associate degree programs are available, in areas such as business, management, paralegal and video game development, along with certificate programs ranging from law enforcement to bookkeeping. To reduce costs further, several course fees have been removed, Microsoft Office software is free, and tuition per credit hour is much less expensive than nearby public universities. Students may also take on-campus courses at several satellite campuses, but the main campus in Prescott is worth checking out, as it houses an art gallery, performing art center, a nature trail, a fitness center with a pool and a child development center.
One of the fastest-growing of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges, Chandler-Gilbert Community College serves 20,000 students through its four locations and online. Campuses are located at Mesa, Sun Lakes, and Queen Creek. The college offers one of the most affordable tuition rates in the region, which is a big benefit for first-time students. CGCC students can select from 60 in-demand degree and certificate programs to prepare for a career or to transfer to four-year colleges and universities. At CGCC, the online college program provides eLearning courses that can be completed entirely on the web or as a hybrid class, combining distance learning with an on-campus component. Recognizing that all students, whether on campus or online, need support, CGCC offers 24/7 online tutoring. Students can also get online help with their essays using the college's Smarthinking software.
One of the main goals of the University of Maryland, College Park is to be one of the top schools for graduate students. Their traditional graduate degree programs have started to become nationally recognized as some of the best, and their online programs for graduate degrees have also started to get attention. There are online courses and degrees offered in many different fields at UMD, many of which are at the graduate level. For example, their online MBA program is seen as one of the top in the nation, as well as one of the cheapest ways to earn an MBA. Students who want to continue their education might be able to find an online program at UMD that fits their needs.
Students whose high school GPA wasn't all that great may still be good candidates for college, but it can be difficult for a college to make that call if admission criteria are lax. Some schools, however, are access institutions which means there are some benchmarks in place when needed. "Portland State prides itself on being an access institution," says Kobzina. "We admit students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. If students have lower than a 3.0 GPA, then they'll likely need to go through our holistic review process. This consists of a personal essay and two academic letters of recommendation. Will the student be academically successful here? These are decisions we have to make as part of this process."
Students at Pitt Community College are set up for success with the school's core values. With a commitment to student learning, workforce development, and student and community engagement, Pitt Community College offers one of the most affordable curriculums around. With a variety of financial aid options, students can choose from day, night, work-based, and online courses. Online programs can be found through the school's online learning, which is possibly the most affordable and fun, and, to top it off, convenient. All online courses are led by expert instructors, many of whom are nationally known authors. Pitt Community College also allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll in courses tuition free, based on the schools' Career and College Promise Program. Pitt also makes it easy for out-of-state students by offering distance learning. Pitt students can also enjoy a variety of athletics, clubs and organizations and community programs.
For some students, academics isn't a strength but they still have career goals that require a higher education. Or maybe a student isn't quite ready for a competitive four-year college but still wants to work towards earning a degree. Students who feel this way may benefit from an open enrollment college. Find out how open enrollment works and get expert advice to help you decide if this is the right educational path for you.
For instance, the University of Kansas's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences states that students taking only online classes are generally given first shot at enrolling, as the online format is the only way in which they can take courses. The school says that spots for online classes are reserved for a two- to three-week period for online students so they can arrange their enrollment schedules; after this time, students in a hybrid program can then seek to enroll in classes.
When asked about open enrollment schools, Dave Kobzina, Assistant Director for Transfer Recruitment at Portland State University, says, "I don't think you can say it's ‘good' or ‘bad' as a blanket statement. But I would lean towards saying that open enrollment at community colleges is generally a good thing. Not everyone does well academically in high school, and for a variety of reasons. Getting the opportunity to pursue a higher education is always good."
Jackson State University takes a strong institutional research approach. Founded in 1877, the school is located in Jackson, Mississippi. This historically black college and university (HBCU) awards undergraduate and graduate degrees, including 46 bachelor's degrees, 37 master's degrees and 13 doctoral degrees. A state-supported school and one of the most affordable, Jackson's in-state tuition is about $7,141 a year. Out-of-state tuition is more than double the cost of in-state tuition. The majority of the university's student population consists of returning undergraduates, followed by transfer or returning graduate students. Federal, state, private and institutional financial support is available. To qualify for financial aid, students may need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application.

Like brick-and-mortar students, online learners must also consider housing, food, and transportation costs. Most online students forgo on-campus housing in favor of staying at home with their parents or leasing an apartment or house. Rental rates for the latter are typically lower than on-campus room-and-board costs, though this depends on the student's city and state of residence. Without on-campus meal plans, online students must also pay for their own meals – but again, off-campus food is often much cheaper than on-campus dining options. Online students tend to save money in transportation costs since they rarely need to commute to their school's campus. However, transportation may be a cost factor depending on where they live and if they are planning to work while in school.

Many online students – even those attending cheap online colleges – rely on financial aid to pay for various expenses. Student loans are a popular option because they can cover the bulk of annual tuition and other college costs. For many students, however, loans do not cover all of the required costs. Student loans, along with the most common types of financial aid used to supplement loans, are detailed below.
Northeast Community College originated 40 years ago as a post-secondary institution serving a 20-county region in Northeast Nebraska. Today, the college offers students a choice among more than 120 fields of study leading to associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. NCC offers one of the most affordable degree programs in the region, and its online college degree programs are offered in more than 20 associate degree fields. NCC's online programs can also lead to two completion certificates and a diploma in business. The online Academic Transfer program focuses on courses that can be transferred to a four-year college or university. Online students needing additional help can take advantage of tutoring services through email, video conferencing or by phone.
Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) strives to provide all types of students access to the most affordable education possible, with access to quality on-campus, web-enhanced, blended and fully online programs and courses. Through the Technical Education Center (TEC), students can enroll in skill-based, hands-on degree and certificate programs such as cosmetology, automotive, early childhood education and networking technology. High school students can participate in the dual enrollment Pioneer Career Center STEM+ program, which teaches criminal justice, cybersecurity, biomanufacturing, and robotics, and prepares students to start their career in an entry-level position, earn an associate degree, or use credits to transfer to a four-year college. Online program options through KCKCC include general studies, office administration, business, marketing and computer systems networking. Tuition cost is determined by course load and residency, making it the least expensive for Kansas residents, but discounted tuition rates are available to Missouri residents residing in specific counties. Military students may be able to receive credits for military service, and reverse-transfer credits may be a cost-cutting option for some students.

At Holmes Community College (HCC) in Goodman, students will find affordability mixed with quality through both on-campus and online programs. Online courses are offered as either full-term or accelerated, in four or eight-week blocks, with both academic and career-based options. Online AAS degrees are in areas such as medical office technology, paralegal, criminal justice and medical coding and billing. One of the most affordable options for students planning to transfer to a four-year college after HCC is an academic-based AA degree earned completely online, and HCC has a wide variety to choose from. To help fund educational goals, HCC students may be eligible for payment plans, federal financial aid, alternative loans, outside scholarships and HCC specific scholarships and grants. Also offered at HCC are dual enrollment and dual credit courses designed for both high school and home-schooled students that want to earn college credits while still in high-school.

Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) strives to provide all types of students access to the most affordable education possible, with access to quality on-campus, web-enhanced, blended and fully online programs and courses. Through the Technical Education Center (TEC), students can enroll in skill-based, hands-on degree and certificate programs such as cosmetology, automotive, early childhood education and networking technology. High school students can participate in the dual enrollment Pioneer Career Center STEM+ program, which teaches criminal justice, cybersecurity, biomanufacturing, and robotics, and prepares students to start their career in an entry-level position, earn an associate degree, or use credits to transfer to a four-year college. Online program options through KCKCC include general studies, office administration, business, marketing and computer systems networking. Tuition cost is determined by course load and residency, making it the least expensive for Kansas residents, but discounted tuition rates are available to Missouri residents residing in specific counties. Military students may be able to receive credits for military service, and reverse-transfer credits may be a cost-cutting option for some students.
3 Separate data for young adults who were Pacific Islander or of Two or more races were not available in 2000. Prior to 2003, data for Asian young adults included Pacific Islander young adults. Information from Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 101.20, based on the Census Bureau Current Population Reports, indicates that 96 percent of all Asian/Pacific Islander 18- to 24-year-olds are Asian.
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