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Most Affordable Online Colleges


Like so many individuals out there, you may prioritize your education but often find you don’t have the time in your already-busy schedule to pursue a full-time degree program. This is the case for nearly 7 million students across the nation pursuing degrees online, either part-time or full-time. Luckily, with today’s advanced technology, colleges and universities in America are offering hundreds of thousands of virtual programs and online college courses to be completed at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.

Several factors go into the college selection process, but one of the most important is cost and affordability. Online post-secondary education empowers students from all walks of life to pursue their dreams by offering both easy accessibility and practical price ranges, which is of the highest concern for innumerable people. Many universities and institutions offer their virtual courses at reduced rates, or award scholarships, grants, loans, and other modes of cost-reduction to qualifying distance learners.

Finding the balance between academics and your everyday responsibilities can be a daunting task, and when it comes to college costs and tuition rates, there’s no room for error. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of some of the most affordable online schools and degree programs out there. With this information in mind moving forward, you can be confident in making informed decisions regarding your academic future.


All schools considered for these rankings

  • Are regionally or nationally accredited
  • Offer at least one fully online degree (with no more than two weeks of required in-person work)
  • Were collected from official accrediting agency websites.

Schools are ranked solely by the average net price as released in the most recent IPEDs database collected in November 2020

2021 Most Affordable Online Colleges

Rank School Average Net Price
#1 Western Governors University $7,785
#2 Marshall University $8,894
#3 Middle Georgia State University $9,794
#4 Columbia Southern University $9,910
#5 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus $10,325
#6 Tennessee State University $10,427
#7 Minot State University $10,920
#8 Clayton State University $11,160
#9 Columbus State University $12,194
#10 Fort Hays State University $12,340
#11 Lamar University $12,967
#12 Albany State University $13,066
#13 West Texas A & M University $13,185
#14 Georgia Southwestern State University $13,206
#15 Arkansas State University $13,605
#16 Valdosta State University $14,278
#17 Southern Utah University $14,284
#18 Aspen University $14,492
#19 University of Central Arkansas $14,723
#20 University of Arkansas $15,642
#21 Georgia Southern University $15,795
#22 University of the Cumberlands $17,953
#23 William Woods University $21,098
#24 Union College – KY $21,586

11 Best Affordable Online Colleges

1. Western Governors University

Average Net Price: $7,785

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: NWCCU
Acceptance Rate: 100%

Western Governors University was founded in 1997 as a private post-secondary institution meant to provide accessible education to the greater Western half of the United States. To this day, it pursues its mission of expanding virtual schooling “by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time or place and to earn competency-based degrees and other credentials that are credible to both academic institutions and employers.”

The university hosts four distinct online colleges, including the College of Business, the Teachers College, the College of Information Technology, and the College of Health Professions. Through these schools of study, students across the nation have access to a wide array of degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A few such degrees include bachelor’s in fields like computer science or business administration, as well as master’s in healthcare management, data analytics, teaching, and more.

2. Marshall University

Average Net Price: $8,894

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 90%

Marshall University is a top-tier post-secondary educational institution that has been providing quality academic instruction to the community of Huntington, West Virginia since 1837. Today, it is home to over 12,000 students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1, as well as an acceptance rate of 90%. The school offers over 100 distinguished academic programs to choose from.

Marshall University knows that finding time for school can be challenging. Because of this, they provide over 600 courses that can be taken entirely online. The university offers not only undergraduate degrees, but multiple options for online master’s degrees, as well. Some of the school’s most distinguished bachelor’s programs are within the fields of English, business, and geography, and its most renowned master’s degrees cover criminal justice, counseling, and journalism.

3. Middle Georgia State University

Average Net Price: $9,794

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 94%

Middle Georgia State University was established as a junior college in 1884 and has since expanded to become one of the most upstanding universities in the state. With an acceptance rate of 94%, MGSU welcomes a wide array of students from all walks of life, and is proud in upholding its creed of educating “lifelong learners whose scholarship and careers enhance the region.” The institution holds accreditation from the SACS COC. They aim to instill leadership abilities and community involvement within every student that passes through their doors, whether physically or virtually.

Middle Georgia State recognizes what career field employers are looking for, and its programs reflect that understanding. Each program is designed to prepare students for competitive, professional career fields. For its distance learners, MGSU also strives to provide interactive, collaborative online coursework. As an institution, MGSU values research, and the school’s math and science departments have $50,000 grants towards field research and experimentation. At Middle Georgia State, you’ll be sure to receive a high return on your investment, as well as gain a long-lasting, high-quality education.

4. Columbia Southern University

Average Net Price: $9,910

School Type: For-Profit
School Accreditation: DEAC
Acceptance Rate: Open Admissions

Columbia Southern University is an online post-secondary educational platform based out of Alabama. The university strives to educate as many students as possible, which is why it retains an open admissions policy. Today, it hosts over 21,000 students and offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees. It also holds accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

The university is widely known for providing some of the best online courses in the business. The school aims to prepare students for any career they want to pursue, addressing present-day issues and instilling relevant, marketable skillsets within field-specific curricula. Columbia Southern University strives to be student-centered and encourages one-on-one time and collaboration with professors, faculty, and staff. The school’s highest-ranking programs cover the fields of emergency medical services and homeland security.

5. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

Average Net Price: $10,325

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 60%

Eastern New Mexico University opened in 1934 with the intent to “emphasize liberal learning, freedom of inquiry, cultural diversity and whole student life.” With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, the school prioritizes individualized learning and students’ collaboration with their instructors. The high-quality education ENMU affords has earned it an impressive student satisfaction rate of 97%.

When it comes to online education, students at Eastern New Mexico University have over 30 virtual degrees to choose from. One of the university’s most widely-pursued online programs is its nursing degree, which holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). If you’re interested in human behavior, studying emotions, or memory, then ENMU’s online psychology degree is an excellent option. These programs strive to foster curious critical thinkers prepared to take on rapidly-changing professional fields.

6. Tennessee State University

Average Net Price: $10,427

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: Open Admissions

Since its founding in 1912, Tennessee State University has been committed to providing high-quality education and culture to both its students and the surrounding community of Nashville. TSU is an exceptional school that bears the “High Research” Carnegie distinction and maintains an open admissions policy. In total, TSU has over 70 majors to choose from, a few of which include agriculture, liberal arts, health sciences, and more.

Tennessee State University aims to assist students on their paths to success, whatever that looks like. The online platform enables students to earn their degrees anytime and anywhere and hosts a wide array of different online programs for virtual students to choose from. These include the colleges of education, liberal arts, health sciences, and public service. Each program is designed to help students obtain a broad understanding of their field and prepare them to either advance their education or get a head start in building their careers.

7. Minot State University

Average Net Price: $10,920

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 69%

Since its establishment in 1913, Minot State University has been helping students find belonging and lifelong success through education. The university endeavors to equip students with critical thinking skills, hands-on experience, and plentiful career-building opportunities. It is also proud to be the 3rd most affordable university in the U.S., providing flat in-state tuition rates to all students, regardless of their state of residency.

Minot State aims to provide the highest measure of ease when obtaining a virtual degree, meaning it’s possible to complete online courses without ever stepping foot on campus. The university’s online programs are designed with individual students’ progress in mind. Professors are willing and eager to assist anytime and to work with students to accommodate their schedules. MSU offers both undergraduate and graduate-level degrees online, with concentrations available in countless fields, a few of which include international business and health management science.

8. Clayton State University

Average Net Price: $11,160

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 42%

Clayton State University is rooted in the idea that, through hard work and perseverance, anyone can make their dreams become a reality. The school is home to some 6,900 students, including both undergrads and graduates. It also maintains a relatively competitive acceptance rate of 42%. Of its students, CSU expects the highest standard of academic excellence and moral character. Through enriched education and active participation in the community, Clayton graduates go on to become proactive community leaders and successful individuals.

As far as online programs go, Clayton upholds the same high standards in quality that apply to its in-person curricula, meaning remote learners receive the same attention and comprehensive coursework as on-campus attendees. The university not only offers online degrees but specialized dual programs, as well. A few such programs cover the fields of mathematics and engineering. At Clayton State University, you’re sure to find your life path and acquire some invaluable real-world skills along the way.

9. Columbus State University

Average Net Price: $12,194

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 53%

Since its opening in 1958, Columbus State University has been working towards developing a vibrant student community of lifelong learners. The university maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1, which enables individuals to participate in real-world opportunities and collaborate with professors and peers alike. With tuition rates averaging $12,194, CSU is one of the nation’s top 100 most affordable universities.

Columbus State University hopes to help you advance in your career and discover your passion all at once. Students have the opportunity to create their own career paths and choose one of 39 online degree programs. While taking online classes, you’ll receive the hands-on experience needed to develop strong professional skills in your specific field of choice. Programs cover fields such as nursing, sociology, business, and more.

10. Fort Hays State University

Average Net Price: $12,340

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 89%

Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902 with the mission to “provide accessible quality education to Kansas, the nation, and the world through an innovative community.” It is home to over 15,000 students in total, and works toward helping them reach their highest potential both academically and professionally. Fort Hays also holds accreditation from the higher learning commission.

The students and faculty of FHSU work tirelessly to create an all-inclusive community of lifelong learners, and the institution itself provides countless undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees 100% online. FHSU students have 60 online bachelor’s degrees, 60 master’s degrees, and the option of an online doctorate in nursing to choose from. With the opportunities afforded to you here, you’re sure to succeed.

11. Lamar University

Average Net Price: $12,967

School Type: Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 82%

Since its founding in 1923, Lamar University has been dedicated to fostering its students’ achievements and supporting them through their academic journeys. Though the university has a higher tuition rate, it maintains an acceptance rate of 82% in keeping with its commitment to provide equal opportunity to prospective students from all walks of life. Lamar keeps its class sizes at a relatively small student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1, allowing students to build strong collaborative relationships with their professors and peers.

Students at Lamar University have the opportunity to pursue fully-comprehensive online programs from the comfort of their own homes. The virtual platform enables students to transfer hands-on experience into credits that count toward graduation. Lamar offers a wide variety of stimulating courses to choose from, including their criminal justice degree, family studies professional instruction, and public health programs.