According to online learning surveys conducted by the Sloan Consortium, there were 6,142,280 people enrolled in at least one online course in 2010. This number continues to increase today, especially as access to massively open online courses (MOOCs) grows. But why do people take courses online? The general perception is that these classes are convenient and less expensive, but is this true?
As it turns out, online degrees and courses are not necessarily any less expensive than if you were to attend an on-campus class. For example, if you want to take a class at New York University online, you will be paying the same cost per credit hour as a student who sits in class to listen to a professor. However, you will not have to commute to class, which saves you transportation expenses. You will not have to live on campus, which can save you thousands of dollars a year. Also, courses and degree programs that are designed to be completed online often have content that is digital, which means no textbooks.
Online education is a very unique and financially viable option for people who want quality education on a cheaper budget. Not only do you save on the satellite expenses (books, room and board, travel), but you also get to tailor courses around your schedule. This opens up wider options to take just a few classes at a time, for instance, while you hold a part-time job to fund your schooling.
This directory of the cheapest online colleges in America has two important features. In addition to being able to see what colleges will let you take classes from home, you can add an extra layer of financial clarity to this research by sorting schools based on your budget. Financial aid and scholarships are also available for online students, so there is much more potential to limit the amount of borrowing you need to do in other areas.
Are Cheap Online Colleges Diploma Mills?
Any institution that attempts to offer you a degree for free, or at a suspiciously low rate, should be handled with caution. Online schools should also be held to the same standards and scrutiny that you would apply to a traditional school search. Do research on accreditation. Look into the professors–do they hold graduate degrees? Have they done research or significant work in the area you want to study?
Online classes can supplement an on-campus education as well. If you are interested in studying a practical discipline that requires laboratory work, you should contact local schools to see if they have hybrid options. In a hybrid program, you can take lab courses on-campus and finish your theoretical coursework through the web. This mixing and matching of learning options is one of the best ways to personalize your learning experience and save a lot of money at the same time.