How Much Does Online College Cost In 2024?

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One question that often arises for those considering an online degree program is how much it will cost. 

With so many options available, the cost of an online degree can vary greatly depending on the institution, program, and other factors. 

In this article, we will explore the various costs associated with earning an online degree and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about pursuing an online education.

So without wasting the time, let’s quickly look into it.

How Much Does Online College Cost: Average Cost

  1. According to the reports from U.S. News, the average cost of online college is around $9,600-$15,150 per year.
  2. The average price for bachelor’s degree students for online classes is around $282 per credit hour.
  3. Students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree spend around $51,091 per year.
  4. Online college degrees at private colleges cost around $60,593 annually.
  5. The cost of an online schedule of 12 credit hours costs around $3,400 per semester.
  6. There are some schools and universities that charge as low as $80 per credit for online college.
  7. According to, a public-four year school costs around $10,776 less than in-person degrees.
  8. Other schools charge over $400 per credit hour for an online bachelor’s degree.
  9. In-state students spend, on average, $38,495 on their bachelor’s online degree.
  10. According to the research, out-of-state students spend over $54,183 for their online education.

The following list contains bachelor’s programs in-state, where students pay the lowest total program cost for the 2021-2022 school year.

UniversityCredits Needed To GraduateIn-State, Per-Credit CostIn-State Total Program Cost
The University of Texas120$63$7,560
Western Carolina University120$66$7,920
Daytona State College120$92$11,040
University of Florida120$112$13,440
Middle Georgia State University120$113$13,560
Pensacola State College120$123$14,760
Florida International University120$131$15,720
University of North Carolina- Charlotte120$147$17,640
Texas A&M University120$159$19,080

Factors Included In Online Degree Costs

Many factors are considered while calculating the overall cost of the online degree. 

Here are some factors that impact the cost of an online degree.

1. Tuition Cost: 

Overall, public schools have fewer tuition fees than private colleges. The average cost of public- four-year colleges is around $9,410 on tuition. On the other hand, according to the data from CollegeBoard, private four-year colleges charge around $32,410.

 How Much Does Online College Cost  - Tuition Cost

2. Books And Course Material:

Online learners need to have other resources like books, laptops, and the Internet. So these costs are also included in these.

Books And Course Material

3. Technology Fees:

Some of the online programs charge a technology fee. Colleges use this money to pay for online research or virtual classroom platforms. So these fees are considered in the overall online degree charges. Many online programs charge a technology fee of around $25 to $100. 

Technology Fees

4. Other Fees:

Other than that, many costs like form fees and graduation certificate fees are included in the overall cost of online college. 

How Much Does Online College Cost: Online Degree Cost

The cost of tuition is different for different institutions. It also varies according to degree and academic achievement level.

Tuition fee structures are also varied for every college and every program. Every institution has a program program-specific fees and tuition rates.

According to the data from OnlineU, the average tuition rate for an online bachelor’s degree is $13,919 on average. Similarly, an online master’s degree costs around $14,278.

(Souce: OpenU)

DegreeOnline Median Annual TuitionCost-Per-Credit
Bachelor’s $13,919$106.8-$1,325
  1. Within the 170 publicly ranked colleges, the average cost of online college credit per hour was $316 for the 2019-20 academic year.
  2. As per the data from the source, the average price of privately ranked colleges is $488 per online credit hour.
  3.  23% of the colleges charge more for a degree earned online than in person.
  4. According to a survey from 2020, 51% of college students considered affordability as the most crucial factor when choosing a school for an online program.
  5. On average, the cost of an undergraduate online college degree is $37,920 for public (in-state) and $58,560 for private institutions.

Following is the average cost of an online bachelor’s degree by school.

SchoolCost Per Credit Hour
Valdosta State University$182
University of Central Florida$105
Clayton State University$169
Arkansas State University$218
Rochester Institute of Technology$1,126
Arizona State University$561-$661
Grand Canyon University$395-$470

Online Graduate Degree Cost

In contrast to undergraduate students, graduate students are more tend to pursue their degrees online. 

According to the data, online degree holders consist of more part-timers and experienced professionals than in-person education. 

  1. According to education data, 68% of the students have career experience.
  2. Among the online students, 36% of the students are trying to switch careers.
  3. Of the total online students, 34% are trying to advance their careers.
  4. The average of online students is 32.

Following is the cost of an online graduate degree by the school.

SchoolCost Per Credit Hour
Valdosta State University$293
University of Central Florida$288
Clayton State University$385
Arkansas State University$277
Rochester Institute of Technology$1,237
Arizona State University$543-$1,343
Grand Canyon University$365-$695

Reasons For The Price Difference Across Online Colleges

Support costs and higher delivery are the biggest reasons for charging high costs to various institutes. It is mostly due to many colleges not running their own online or distance learning programs. Below I have mentioned some of the reasons why online learning at top institutes costs more.

Many institutes use a revenue-sharing approach by using online program managers. They are the companies that offer many courses and modules on their platform. 

They are also responsible for other colleges’ areas like marketing and training.

  1. 61% of the institutes charge more for online learning due to higher maintenance costs.
  2. Development cost is also a major factor for higher pricing of the course. 60% of the schools charge more due to higher development costs.
  3. 39% of the universities charge higher due to high marketing costs.
  4. Thir-party costs conclude 30% of the institutes that charge higher.
  5. Other than that, 20% of the colleges charge more for online education to meet their revenue goals.

Following is a detailed overview of the reasons for the price difference among online colleges.

Self-supported programs that charge their own rate12.30%
Programs that charge according to market price17.30%
Different colleges charge different rates17.90%
Specific programs that have their own pricing scale1.70%
All distance courses charge extra fees22.30%
Certain programs require more resources19.00%

How Much Does Online College Cost: Financial Aid

As these costs are a little high, many colleges provide some financial aid options for online students. 

Here are some examples of the financial aid that you can apply for.

1. Scholarships

You can apply for various scholarships that can help you to cover the college costs. Scholarships do not need to be paid back. Many colleges often offer many academic scholarships to their students for those who have high GPAs. Many nonprofits and private businesses also offer scholarships.


2. Loans:

FAFSA allows students to apply for federal loans. These loans allow you to pay according to your income-based repayment plans. 

You can access subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Moreover, Subsidized loans never collect interest until you finish your graduation. At the same time, unsubsidized loans begin to charge interest immediately.


3. Grants:

There are various grants available after completing the FAFSA. Many students also opt for need-based grants. Grants are not re-paid, but you must still follow the specific criteria. 

4. Work-Study:

Work-study programs allow you to work for payment to cover the tuition fees. The federal government mostly provides these funds for students with financial needs.


5. Employer-Sponsored Programs:

Many employers pay for their employee’s education. This is specifically the case of knowledge directly benefiting the company. You can also apply for such programs if you are a working professional.

Difficulties In Paying Online Tuition

In 2020, paying for online college tuition was a difficult part for some students. Let’s have a look at the difficulties faced by stdents in paying fees.

  1. According to the research from educationdata, 18% of the students who enrolled online reported that financial aid forms were the time-consuming and hardest part of the enrollment process.
  2. 18% of the students said paying for school was their biggest challenge.
  3. 26% of the students indicated that they are more attracted to a school offering scholarships.
  4. As per the research, 29% of the population state that annual scholarships need to be over $2,500 to choose one school over another.
  5. Compared to the online program cost in 1970, the online program cost has increased by $237.5%. 
  6. The average online college cost in 1970 was $87.50 per credit per hour. However, the cost in 2021 was approximately $2,025 per credit hour.
  7. The total sticker price for the program in 2021 was $125,589.

The following are examples of expensive online out-of-state colleges.

UniversityCost Per Credit Hour
Coastal Carolina University$1,070
West Virginia University$1,019
The University of Michigan Flint$858
University of South Carolina – Aiken$849
Wright State University$803

Similarly, some colleges offer an online college degree at discounted prices for in-state students. 

Other than that, some interstate programs like Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) offer: 

  1. There are over 160 colleges that participate in WUE.
  2. On average, WUE students save around $9,610 on non-resident tuition rates.
  3. The average cost of out-of-state tuition can be as much as three times as compared to in-state tuition rates.

Here are some examples of the most affordable in-state online colleges.

School Cost Per Credit HourTotal In-State Cost
Daytona State College$92$11,040
University of Central Florida$105$12,600
University of Florida$129$15,480
Pensacola State College$121$14,520
St. Petersburg College$123$14,760

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Final Thoughts: How Much Does Online College Cost (2024)

An online degree can be a significant financial investment and also be a wise decision for those who are committed to their education and career goals. 

While there are certain expenses to consider, such as tuition, fees, textbooks, and technology, online learning also offers many potential benefits.

To make the most of an online degree program, it’s important for students to carefully consider their options, research costs, and financial aid opportunities and plan strategically for expenses. 

By doing so, students can minimize costs and maximize the return on their investment, making online education a smart choice for those seeking to advance their careers or pursue their passions.

Lana Rose

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