Though many students know that the cost of an undergraduate degree is less when they take classes online, they might not know just how much they can save. Some schools charge one flat rate for a degree, others charge a flat rate per semester and others charge based on the number of credit hours that students take. Online schools may also offer discounted rates for those who take more credit hours each semester. After looking at the average cost of tuition, students should also look at factors that might impact the price they pay and the expenses they’ll have while in school.
Average Tuition Cost
According to a U.S. News and World Report article by Devon Haynie, the average price that students pay for online classes is $282 per credit hour. This puts the price of taking 12 credit hours worth of classes, which is generally a full course load, at around $3,400 a semester. The report points out that some schools charge as little as $80 per credit hour and other schools may charge more than $400 per credit hour. This refers only to the tuition that students pay for their classes and not any other expenses and only applies to undergraduate courses. Graduate school online courses are usually more expensive.
In-State vs. Out of State Tuition
The cost of an undergraduate degree also depends on whether the school charges different rates for students living in or out of the state. Schools often offer in-state tuition, which gives a price break to students who live and study in the same state. Those living in a different state and taking classes online may pay twice as much as students who live in the state pay. Some colleges also prohibit students from certain states from taking online courses because they do not have accreditation in those states.
Students hoping to enroll in an online college should ask about the cost of any fees as well. Those living on campus often pay fees for using the school’s library or athletic complex. Online students often pay a technology fee that applies to the online learning system the school offers. Some schools charge a technology fee of $25 to $100 that students need to pay each semester. Online students are also responsible for paying fees when they reach graduation, fees for certain materials and other fees.
Though taking online classes is a good way to save money, students should still consider the personal expenses they face. While they don’t need to pay money for a meal plan or a dormitory room on campus, they may need to pay rent and buy food while living off-campus. Online students must also pay for textbooks required in their classes and other educational supplies, including pens, pencils, papers, and highlighters. Personal expenses may also include a new computer or tablet for completing their classes and assignments or software that their professors require.
Online classes appeal to students who work full time, those who do not want to move for school and those who have other obligations that keep them from studying at a local school. Though the cost of an online undergraduate degree is generally less expensive than the tuition charged to students taking classes on campus, students will still want to consider all the costs that they face.