15 Affordable Online Colleges for Out-of-State Students

Students, especially those with family or job responsibilities, often turn to an online degree program for its flexibility.

With online education, learning is not confined to a physical classroom. Students can complete coursework from the comfort of their home, office or even a coffee shop.

The need for adaptable education has increased in recent years due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced higher education to reevaluate its course delivery methods. Now, more colleges offer remote options in addition to hybrid and in-person instruction.

At first glance, online programs may seem like the most affordable route, since housing, meal plans and transportation costs are eliminated. But with additional fees for software programs and instructor training, completing a degree online is not always less expensive than the traditional on-campus experience.

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Among the 182 ranked public schools offering online bachelor’s degrees that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey for the 2022-2023 school year, the average total out-of-state program tuition was $57,606. The out-of-state per-credit cost among those schools was $472.

There are relatively inexpensive online options at some public colleges, however, even for out-of-state students. The average total program cost at the 15 most affordable schools for out-of-state online undergraduate students, for example, is $26,504, less than half the average overall price.

Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts offers the lowest out-of-state per-credit rate at $150, with a total program cost of $18,000. Texas Tech University charges $268 per credit for out-of-state students, or $32,160 a year, putting it at No. 15 on the list.

The average per-credit price among these 15 colleges is about $220, per U.S. News data.

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Most of the 15 most affordable online schools for out-of-state students are in the South: Four are in Georgia, while Florida, North Carolina and Texas each host two colleges on the list, and Louisiana has one. The remaining schools are in Massachusetts, Missouri and Utah.

Among all ranked public colleges with online programs, a student needs an average of 122 credits to graduate. But most of the 15 most affordable schools require 120 credits to complete a degree. The exceptions are Columbus State University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Utah, which require more.

While Columbus State and Georgia Southern charge the same price per credit for out-of-state students, $182, their total program costs differ — $22,386 versus $22,932 — due to varying graduation credit requirements.

Time-to-degree completion varies based on each student. Entering college with prior learning assessments, such as military training or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams, can speed up the process and reduce costs.

Below is a list of the 15 undergraduate online programs where out-of-state students were charged the lowest total program cost during the 2022-2023 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News, were not considered for this report.

Fitchburg State University (MA) $150 120 $18,000 272-359
Kennesaw State University (GA) $185 120 $22,200 272-359
Louisiana Tech University $185 120 $22,200 261 (tie)
Columbus State University (GA) $182 123 $22,386 252 (tie)
University of West Georgia $191 120 $22,920 95 (tie)
Georgia Southern University $182 126 $22,932 272-359
University of North Carolina–Pembroke $208 120 $24,960 223 (tie)
University of Texas Permian Basin $219 120 $26,280 129 (tie)
Western Carolina University (NC) $232 120 $27,840 272-359
University of North Florida $243 120 $29,160 39 (tie)
Southeast Missouri State University $259 120 $31,080 150 (tie)
Florida International University $264 120 $31,680 60 (tie)
University of Utah $260 122 $31,720 60 (tie)
Missouri State University $267 120 $32,040 272-359
Texas Tech University $268 120 $32,160 129 (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 380 colleges and universities for our 2023 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 tuition data above is correct as of Jan. 26, 2023.

More from U.S. News

Financial Aid for Online Programs: What to Expect

15 Colleges With Affordable Out-of-State Tuition

What You Need to Know About College Tuition Costs

15 Affordable Online Colleges for Out-of-State Students originally appeared on usnews.com

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