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In the United States, student debt is a $1.4 trillion crisis. Back in 2004, the average debt per student was about $18,000. Now, in 2020, a student owes about $30,000.
It’s clear the cost of college education in the country isn’t sustainable. Yet, for many students, taking on debt is the only way to get this education.
If you’re looking for ways to get higher education without incurring six-figure debt, you might have been looking into options such as online learning.
Yet how much does it cost for online college? Isn’t significantly cheaper than taking the traditional route?
We have the answers to your questions, so keep reading.
How Much Does it Cost for Online College?
You’re probably looking for an estimate or ballpark figure, but we won’t be giving you that. This is because there are several variables that influence the cost of online education – more on this in a bit.
What we can authoritatively say is online programs can be substantially cheaper than traditional programs for one straightforward reason. If you’re taking a program that’s offered fully online, you won’t have to worry about non-tuition costs such as housing, which typically drive up the cost of college.
The tuition fee is also a couple of thousands cheaper since you won’t be utilizing most of the school’s physical facilities.
What Determines the Cost of Online College?
What you’ll pay for online college isn’t necessarily what your sibling or friend will pay – even at the same college. There are several factors that will come into play.
Let’s look at those that carry the biggest weight.
The Program Level
Are you pursuing a diploma, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher?
Your online college costs will vary depending on the level of the program you’re pursuing. The higher the level, the higher the cost. It’s not uncommon for the cost of an online bachelor’s degree program to cost almost as twice much as the cost of an online associate’s degree in the same discipline.
That being said, there is a big difference in the cost of an online program versus the cost of a traditional program at the same level.
For instance, the cost of an online bachelor’s degree in a public university ranges from $38,000 to $60,000. On the other hand, a traditional bachelor’s program costs anywhere from $91,000 to $179,000.
Area of Study
Remote online learning has many benefits, but in some areas of study, you could be disadvantaged.
Programs in the life sciences, for example, need students to spend plenty of time in the lab. Under online learning, this isn’t usually the case, though instructors will try to compensate with other forms of instruction.
For this reason, scientific or technical programs offered online will cost more than those in the arts and social sciences.
Public or Private College?
This is self-explanatory, really. Public colleges are typically cheaper than their private counterparts. You’ll pay a lot less in a public institution of higher learning.
The Bottom Line: Online College Is Cheaper
So, how much does it cost for online college?
While we can’t give you an authentic estimate, we can confidently conclude that online college is far cheaper than a traditional college. A lot will depend on the level of the program you’re pursuing, the area of study, and whether you’re attending a public or private college.
Keep reading our blog for more money-saving hacks and tips.