10 Least Expensive Online Colleges for In-State Students

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Pursuing an online bachelor’s program can help students reduce many expenses, such as the cost to commute to and from the school or the cost of room and board on campus. Though learning online gives students access to college programs across the country, choosing an in-state institution can help cut costs even further.

At the University of Florida, for example, out-of-state students pay $500 per credit for an online bachelor’s, per U.S. News data for the 2020-2021 school year, while in-state students pay $112 per credit — a price difference that can add up quickly as students seek to earn the 120 credits needed to graduate.

But not all public colleges offering an online bachelor’s degree provide a discounted rate for in-state students. The University of Northern Colorado, for example, charges both in-state and out-of-state students $424 per credit for its program.

[Read: 10 Affordable Online Colleges for Out-of-State Students.]

Tuition can vary widely across programs, but the average in-state total cost for an online bachelor’s program is $40,674 in 2020-2021 among the 81 ranked programs that reported this data to U.S. News in an annual survey. On average, these programs require about 122 credits to graduate, and the average cost per credit is about $334.

However, some public schools charge significantly less for in-state tuition. At the 10 least expensive public colleges for in-state online students, the average total program cost amounts to $15,971 in 2020-2021, with students paying about $131 per credit on average.

Daytona State College in Florida offers the lowest in-state online total program cost at $11,040, charging these students just $92 per credit.

[Read: Financial Aid for Online Programs: What to Expect.]

Five of the least expensive online bachelor’s programs for in-state students are located in Florida, with the others in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The amount students ultimately pay for an online bachelor’s degree may vary depending on the school they enroll in and the credits required to graduate. Students may be able to reduce costs by transferring in college credits from coursework completed previously, or earning credit for prior professional experience or military service.

Below is a list of the online bachelor’s programs where in-state students are charged the lowest total program cost for the 2020-2021 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School (state) Credits needed to graduate In-state, per-credit cost In-state total program cost U.S. News rank
Daytona State College (FL) 120 $92 $11,040 37 (tie)
University of Central Florida 120 $105 $12,600 14 (tie)
University of Florida 120 $112 $13,440 3
Pensacola State College (FL) 120 $121 $14,520 53 (tie)
St. Petersburg College (FL) 120 $123 $14,760 75 (tie)
University of North Carolina–Charlotte 120 $129 $15,480 34 (tie)
Appalachian State University (NC) 120 $143 $17,160 107 (tie)
Cameron University (OK) 124 $158 $19,592 256-337
University of Oklahoma 126 $160 $20,160 14 (tie)
University of North Carolina–Wilmington 124 $169 $20,956 19 (tie)

School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed more than 350 colleges and universities for our 2021 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Online Programs rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The cost data above is correct as of Feb. 2, 2021.

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10 Least Expensive Online Colleges for In-State Students originally appeared on usnews.com

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