When evaluating a school's educational qualities, the cost of tuition is only one variable to consider. Prospective online learners should also research degree offerings to ensure their major, minor, and specialization options are available. Accreditation status is also key since it can affect the student's eligibility for certain types of financial aid or their ability to transfer credits. Other important factors include the format of online programs and student outcomes such as graduation and retention rates.
Richard Winton is a crime writer for the Los Angeles Times and part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2011. Known as @lacrimes on Twitter, during 20 years at The Times he also has been part of the breaking news staff that won Pulitzers in 1998 and 2004. He won the ASNE Deadline News award in 2006. A native of England, after getting degrees from University of Kent at Canterbury and University of Wisconsin-Madison, he began covering politics but chose a life of crime because it was less dirty.   
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.
The New Mexico State University-Main Campus is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is considered one of the most affordable colleges in the nation. The 900-acre campus enrolls more than 15,000 students. The student population consists of students from all over the county along with students from 89 other countries. Academics cross areas like science, agriculture, engineering and education, and loan calculators are available to help first-time and continuing education students estimate how much it would cost to complete a degree. Grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs are the four forms of financial aid that students could apply for. Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application to be considered for most forms of the aid.
Highland Community College (HCC) has six campuses across northeast Kansas, plus several online programs and course options. Single courses, general education requirements and associate degree programs are available fully online, plus some programs are in a hybrid format, which combines face-to-face learning with online coursework. Completely online degrees through HCC Online include accounting, business administration, medical coding, risk management, personal fitness training and general studies. For students planning to transfer an approved associate degree or credits earned at HCC to a four-year college, the Kansas Board of Regents has a seamless transfer policy, so community college students can enter smoothly as college juniors. HCC also has articulation agreements with several four-year public and private colleges, such as the Palmer school of Chiropractic in Iowa, and Baker University in Kansas. Basically, approved degrees will transfer, making this one of the cheapest ways towards a bachelor's degree, since tuition costs at HCC is typically much less expensive than a four-year university.

The Oklahoma State University-Main Campus is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Other campuses are in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The school's main campus sprawls across more than 700 acres. Students can take self-guided tours on campus or virtually. Academics are administered through 10 colleges, including the Spears School of Business, Engineering, Architecture and Technology, Honors College, and Arts and Sciences. In addition to being able to study abroad, students can take classes through the university's online program. Scholarships and work-study programs are two resources that students can access to help pay for classes. Grants and student loans are also available through Oklahoma State University, one of the most affordable colleges, and their Start2Finish guide walks students through the financial aid application process.
*PBV: is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or 'bang for your buck' – of an online degree.
You’ve taken your entrance exams, narrowed down your college choices and visited campuses. Now you complete your applications and send them in by the deadlines attached to them. Take your time with each application. Complete each one as if it were the only one you had to complete. Plan your essays on scratch paper first and write concise articulate prose that still offers insight into your personality. Do not use the same essay for each application; this is a big turn-off to admissions officers.

Cowley College has an extensive list of online programs and courses, with several fully online degree and professional certification options. The online courses through Cowley College Online are fully accredited for all 50 states, so students across the U.S. looking for online colleges can take advantage of over 600 courses offered. Associate degrees offered online range from accounting to sports management, with a variety of other courses in between. Tuition at Cowley is based on a tiered system, with the cheapest per credit hour going to high school students, followed by Cowley country residents, Kansas residents and then Oklahoma residents. Although others may have to pay a higher rate, the tuition rates are still quite affordable, and way cheaper than a four-year college. Cowley gives out hundreds of scholarships, based on academics, financial need, the department the student is enrolled in and other factors. Cowley also encourages students to apply for state grants and scholarships, and advisors are ready to help guide all students through the financial aid process.


Two types of accreditation are awarded to colleges. Institutional accreditation applies to the school as a whole while programmatic accreditation applies to medical schools, law schools, and other smaller departments at larger universities. Students must attend fully accredited schools in order to qualify for federal loans. Accreditation status should be prominently displayed somewhere on the school's home page. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation each maintain full lists of all accredited schools in the U.S. These lists allow students to browse all options and find cheap accredited online colleges.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a helpful resource for students researching job growth and other aspects of their prospective career field. The BLS website features hundreds of career profiles that also include duties and responsibilities, educational requirements, and occupational data specific to different states and metropolitan areas. For additional information, PayScale is a useful site that estimates salaries at different career levels based on input from professionals in that particular field.
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.
The number of honors students at the Arkansas State University-Main Campus has been growing since 2009. Freshmen attending the school earn an average 3.48 GPA, and the class sizes at the school are kept small, about 17 students to every instructor. The university's approximately 14,000 students declare majors like animal science, cognitive science, financial wealth management, heritage studies and strategic communication. Innovation takes place through the university's Research Development office. Financial support is provided to nearly 90% of the adults enrolled at Arkansas State University-Main Campus, one of the most affordable schools in the nation. This support comes through grants, scholarships, waivers, student employment and student loans. To get federal aid, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application.

Educators at the University of Toledo have been teaching courses to adults since the school opened its doors in 1872. Current enrollment at the university is at about 16,200 undergraduates and 4,380 graduates. Research academics take place in astronomy, social sciences and animal science. Admissions counselors are available to direct students toward majors and help students complete the admissions process, including getting access to financial aid. As one of the most affordable universities, UT also offers merit scholarships, like the Toledo Excellence Scholarship, Regents Scholarship, Trustees Scholarship and Deans Scholarship. The school also awards stackable scholarships, grants and loans, and federal and state financial aid are also available.

Before your official transcripts arrive, complete an application for admission and a conditional admissions form promising that you will provide official transcripts. If you have "student copies" of your transcripts or grade reports, bring them with you when you visit our offices so our academic advisors can use them to assist you. (Find out more about transfer requirements.)


Distance education is nothing new to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, so their online courses and degree programs are just an extension of what they've been doing for over 100 years. Not only is UNL consistently ranked a top online school for bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees and military education, but it's also one of the cheapest online schools available. All of the online degree programs offered by UNL are fully accredited and are guaranteed to have the same quality and respect as a traditional degree would have. Courses taken at the University of Nebraska can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid of online and on-campus studies, meant for students who want the flexibility of online courses but would still like some face-to-face time.

You should also consider looking for scholarships outside of your community college. Check with some of your local charitable organizations, such as the Rotary Club. Many of these organizations give out scholarships. You can also look at scholarship search engines or ask at the financial aid office at your college. Your high school's guidance counselor office should have information, as well.
Grand Canyon University offers open enrollment to students 16 years of age and older who are interested in completing an undergraduate program online. Though the university incorporates Christian principles into all of its academic programs, applicants are not required to submit a statement of faith or confirm their alignment with a particular religious affiliation, with the exception of those applying to theology programs. Graduate and transfer students may be required to submit standardized test scores and/or meet a minimum GPA requirement to gain admission into their program of choice.

The New Mexico State University-Main Campus is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is considered one of the most affordable colleges in the nation. The 900-acre campus enrolls more than 15,000 students. The student population consists of students from all over the county along with students from 89 other countries. Academics cross areas like science, agriculture, engineering and education, and loan calculators are available to help first-time and continuing education students estimate how much it would cost to complete a degree. Grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs are the four forms of financial aid that students could apply for. Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application to be considered for most forms of the aid.

In light of the information you glean from your guidance counselor, you should begin early in your high school career to explore in depth the academic options and learning environments available to you. Part of this step must include self-awareness of your career and academic goals. No, you don’t have to know what you want to “be” the rest of your life. Plenty of students go to college without a solid career goal, others know their strengths and weaknesses and are open to exploring options. Most colleges don’t require you declare a major until your sophomore year.
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.

In every year since 2000, the college enrollment rate for young adults was higher for females than for males. This pattern was observed for young adults overall and for White and Hispanic young adults specifically. For example, in 2017 the female-male gap in college enrollment rates was 7 percentage points for young adults overall, 7 percentage points for White young adults, and 10 percentage points for Hispanic young adults. Among Black young adults, the college enrollment rate was higher for females than for males in most years since 2000, except in 2007, 2012, 2015, and 2016, when the rates were not measurably different. In 2017, the female-male gap in college enrollment rates was 6 percentage points for Black young adults.
×