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The Cost of Online College Courses: Closer to Traditional School Fees Than Many Expect

There’s alot of misunderstanding about the cost of online college courses, and about the real tuition for and associate, undergraduate, graduate and even doctoral degrees in general. 

There are lots of shortcuts available if you want a fake degree from a “diploma mill” or a non-accredited online school. But if you want to study at a real quality school, you may be surprised to find that individual distance learning courses cost about the same as traditional classes.
Click To See a List Of Most Moderately-Priced Online Colleges and Universities

The total tuition you'll pay for an online degree, in fact, may be exactly the same as what you'd pay at a "brick and mortar" college for four years. But you'll get a big financial benefit from the fact that you'll live at home while studying. Students at traditional colleges have to budget tens of thousands of dollars for room and board over four years, especially if their school is in a major city.

You also tend to pay for online learning on a “per-course” basis. That’s important, because it gives you flexibility to stretch out your schedule if events in your life make it necessary. In most cases, when a full-time student at a traditional school doesn’t complete the required credits within four years, he or she has to pay for every additional semester needed to finish the degree.

If you study at a state school, you may also get a unique benefit from the "distance" in distance education. Most state colleges and universities charge a huge premium (sometimes almost double the basic tuition) for on-campus students who are not residents of their particular state. There's almost never a premium charged to out-of-state e-learners.

Cost differences: Traditional and Distance Learning:
Most three credit-hour courses online run from $700 to $900 - a charge that's roughly comparable to the fees at most mid-range traditional schools. That means that a full online degree, including textbooks and other supplies needed, will probably require an investment of about $7,500 per semester, or about $30,000 total. Certificate programs, even at a fairly high professional level, can cost less because they involve fewer courses. For example, a certificate degree in supervisory skills at Cornell eLearning, a top school, currently costs about $5,000. It requires 11 courses.

There are several ways to defray this cost. If you are employed, particularly by a mid to large-sized company, you may be able to get a the company to fund some or even all of the cost of online college courses. The federal government, which has traditionally given grants only to on-campus students, has shown more flexibility in recent years about giving financial aid to online students. (Read more about smart ways to pay for your online education

Don't wait until the last minute before finding out what your credit hours will cost. Many schools charge late application fees, late payment fees and other charges to people who apply just before school starts. You can keep your degree affordable by learning about "hidden charges" like graduation fees and other charges that don't seem to make sense before signing on to your online school.

Here are some of the most reasonably priced bachelors and associates degree programs, which you can get free information on by filling out some information about your interests. Estimated fees here are for the school year 2013 - 2014, and don't include books and other costs unless otherwise noted.

Walden University Readers are sometimes surprised to find a "big name" online school on this list. Walden University is an accredited institution with over 40 years of experience and more than 40,000 students. It offers over 60 online degree programs with more than 300 specializations and concentrations, including:
- Business
- Education and Leadership
- Nursing
- Health Sciences
- Psychology
Get free information on Walden University

Sullivan University Online Sullivan is a private university based in Kentucky with about 6,000 students. It has a strong emphasis on real world learning, and is widely known as "Kentucky's career university." Tuition is quite moderate on all programs, and the school offers an unusual tuition "lock in" option that protects students from rate increases while they are in school. Offers Associate's Degrees in:
- Business
- Accounting
- Justice & Public Safety
- Hotel & Restaurant Management
- Marketing
Bachelor's degrees in:
- Business - multiple specialties
- Nursing
- Marketing
- Hospitality Management
- Human Resources
Get free information on Sullivan University

Grand Canyon University A large private school offering online degrees at a relatively moderate price for a school with strong name recognition across the country. Grand Canyon has many bachelors degrees in specialties including:
- Education
- Nursing
- Counseling
- Government
Get info on Grand Canyon University


Top Schools Specializing In Online Degrees:

Kaplan University
Offers a very wide range of bachelor's, master's and associates degrees in
- Criminal Justice
- Education
- Health Care
- Nursing
- Computer Technology
- Information Systems
- Legal Studies
Learn more about Kaplan's degree programs

Keiser University
Keiser is a very unusual case of a school that changed from for-profit to non-profit status in 2011. Established in Florida in 1977, the school has 14 campuses around the world and a very large and well-known online degree program. It has regional accreditation (the best kind) from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and has long pursued a goal of preparing students for real careers. Keiser offers a vast array of online associates and bachelors degrees in these areas:
- Accounting
- Paralegal
- Criminal Justice
- Sports Medicine
- Video Game Design
- Psychology
- Biomedical Sciences
- Elementary Education
- Information Technology
- Business Administration
- Social Media Communication
Get free info about Keiser's degree programs

Colorado Technical University
CTU is a large institution based on Colorado Springs with over 25,000 students. It has solid regional accreditation (the best kind) and has been ranked #1 Best for Vets in the category for online and non-traditional universities by Military Times Magazine. Offers associate's and bachelor's degrees online in
- Criminal Justice (multiple specialties)
- Business
- Accounting
- Project Management
- Information Systems (multiple specialties)
- Electrical Engineering
Learn more about Colorado Tech's degree programs

Ashford University
Iowa-based school established in 1918, Ashford offers a vast array of online degrees online across the range from associate to bachelor and masters, in addition to it's campus-based programs. (Ashford University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001, www.wascsenior.org.) Degrees available in:
- Business Management - BA & MBA in 19 different specialties
- Early Childhood Education
- Marketing
- Health Care Studies
- Homeland Security
- Psychology
- Sports Managment
Get information on Ashford's online programs

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