Read about the descriptions and intended outcomes that you should get from taking online classes. Compare identical courses between the institutions that you find in your search for online colleges. Many colleges publish printed and Web-based catalogs that provide information about class titles as well as subject matter, such as English 1101 or Economics 2102. In some instances, you can contact the instructor for a copy of the online class syllabus. You want to make sure the class does not disappoint your learning expectations.

When students are looking for one of the most affordable ways to earn a degree from an online school, it typically comes down to two factors: the cost of the program and how long the program will take to complete. At Columbia College, students are not only studying with one of the cheapest tuitions for a private school, but they can also save by graduating quickly. The online school has eight-week courses, and there are six different times during the year when students can take a class. This means that students can study year-round at an incredibly affordable rate, potentially completing their degree program faster than the national average. Of course, students aren't required to study during every period and can study at their own pace.

The number of female students was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006, while the number of male students was 14 percent higher. Although male enrollment increased by a larger percentage than female enrollment between 2006 and 2016, the majority (56 percent) of students in 2016 were female. Male and female enrollments were both higher in 2016 than in 2006, but there were increases during the first part of this period followed by smaller decreases during the most recent part of the period (a decrease of 5 percent for males from 2010 to 2016 and a decrease of 6 percent for females).


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.
Community college is an affordable option to get your feet wet in higher education. You can get an associate's degree at community college or use your local community college to get the basics out of the way before you transfer to a four-year college. Enrolling sounds difficult, but you will have many people along the way to help you if you need it.

Founded in the heart of Meridian, Mississippi in 1937, Meridian Community College now enrolls more than 4,000 students. One of the most affordable undergraduate institutions in Mississippi, MCC offers students 55 career and technical programs to choose from, along with a University Transfer Associate of Arts degree. Hundreds of online college courses are made available to distance students each semester through the Holladay Center for eLearning, and more than 6,000 online courses are also offered through the Mississippi Virtual Community College. Online courses at MCC offer the same academic credit as their on-campus course counterparts, but allow students with busy schedules the flexibility they need to succeed. The college recommends that online students dedicate nine hours of study per week for each three-credit course. MCC associate-degree programs are accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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.

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.
Capella University is headquartered in Minneapolis, but provides more than 40 degree programs in six academic areas at locations throughout the U.S., including on its online global campus. While the university upholds a general open enrollment policy, some programs have specific admissions requirements beyond the basic submission of prior transcripts and proof of English proficiency; prerequisites including minimum GPA, letters of recommendation, and/or faculty interviews are determined by each school and program individually.

University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College of North Little Rock serves more than 6,000 students through five campus locations. Prospective students will be happy to know UA-PTC's per-hour tuition rate is among the cheapest in the state. Since 1992, it has granted over 18,000 degrees and certificates since 1992 while also preparing students who want to pursue higher degrees. UA-PTC online college degree programs can help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities or can lead to completion of technical and occupational programs. The college also awards academic credit based on prior training or life experiences. Popular degree and certification programs are available in allied health and human services, business and information technology, culinary arts and hospitality management, fine arts and humanities, science and mathematics, and technical sciences. Online courses are delivered via the Blackboard class management software.


The University of Louisiana at Monroe has a longstanding record of success, and the model for their on-campus courses and degrees has been applied to their online college as well. ULM's online school, eULM, offers over 30 degree programs that students can pick from, as well as plenty of courses that can be completed entirely online. Also, students that do study through eULM get access to all the same resources as traditional students, such as advisors, faculty and counselors. Consistently viewed as one of the top online schools in Louisiana, ULM also has the distinction of being one the cheapest online options for earning a bachelor's degree. Aside from bachelor's degrees, ULM offers master's, doctoral and associate degrees, all meant to help students advance through their careers.

The University of Illinois at Springfield has transfer agreements with more than 162 community colleges. Transfer, continuing education and first-time students choose a major from 31 bachelor's degrees, 20 master's degrees and one doctoral degree. These degrees are taught in dozens of disciplines, including biochemistry, clinical laboratory science, educational leadership, geographic information systems, learning behavioral specialist, and social responsibility and leadership development. Whether students attend class on campus or through one of the university's online programs, they can receive financial aid. Recognized as one of the most affordable universities, the school awards scholarships, and federal and state aid is also available.
The percentage of American college students who are Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black has been increasing. From fall 1976 to fall 2016, the percentage of Hispanic students rose from 4 percent to 18 percent of all U.S. residents enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, and the percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students rose from 2 percent to 7 percent. The percentage of Black students increased from 10 percent in 1976 to 14 percent in 2016, but the 2016 percentage reflects a decrease since 2011, when Black students made up 15 percent of all enrolled U.S. residents. The percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students was higher in 2016 (0.8 percent) than in 1976 (0.7 percent). During the same period, the percentage of White students fell from 84 percent to 57 percent. About 4 percent of students in 2016 were of Two or more races. Race/ethnicity is not reported for nonresident aliens, who made up 5 percent of total enrollment in 2016.
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.

At Cerro Coso Community College students can complete their associate and bachelor's degrees in only 120 units, choosing from eight associate degrees for transfer, 18 accredited online programs, 17 online certificates, and more than 160 courses per year. To help ease student transfers to other University of California (UC) campuses, and help students graduate on time, the Transfer Pathway program was implemented in 2015. Dubbed the degree with a guarantee, the program offers students awarded an associate of arts or associate of science degree, guaranteed admission with junior standing somewhere in the CSU system. These students also receive priority admission consideration. In addition to all of those great features, Cerro Coso is one of the most affordable colleges in the state, providing a variety of financial aid options and resources.
The number of female students was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006, while the number of male students was 14 percent higher. Although male enrollment increased by a larger percentage than female enrollment between 2006 and 2016, the majority (56 percent) of students in 2016 were female. Male and female enrollments were both higher in 2016 than in 2006, but there were increases during the first part of this period followed by smaller decreases during the most recent part of the period (a decrease of 5 percent for males from 2010 to 2016 and a decrease of 6 percent for females).
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