Which Of The Most Affordable Online Colleges Is Right For You In 2017?

The cost of education can often be the deciding factor between getting that degree you dream of and deciding to let that dream go. If money is a concern, we are here to show that affordable online degrees from inexpensive online colleges are possible.

This guide will be your 2017 ranking to cheap online colleges.

Cheapest Online Colleges Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 6 Cheapest Online Colleges

We have highlighted six affordable online colleges that all charge considerably less than $300 per credit hour for their cheap online courses. Many of these affordable online schools have inexpensive graduate degree options as well.

These cheapest online colleges offer their students opportunities to receive affordable online degrees in fields such as:

  • Business
  • Environmental sciences
  • Languages
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Accounting
  • And many more….

If receiving your degree is important to you, take advantage of cheap online degrees with these six affordable online colleges in 2017.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Cheap Online Colleges

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the cheapest online university names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that cheapest online university):

Top 6 Best Affordable Online Colleges | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Cheap Online Colleges


Per Credit Cost

Graduate Per Credit Cost

Brigham Young University – Idaho




Columbia College




Fort Hays State University




Minot State University




Oregon State University




University of Arkansas




Table: Top 6 Best Cheapest Online Colleges | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Cheapest Online Colleges

Here’s the simple truth: the very best online colleges in the United States will often cost quite a bit of money. If you choose one of the cheap online colleges, you will probably not have the prestige of getting your degree from a renowned university.

Cheap Online Colleges

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That does not mean, however, that cheap online schools are not great options for your education. Here are a few points to consider to make sure that your cheap online courses will be ideal for you:

  • What do you want to study? Make sure the affordable online colleges you are considering offer cheap online degrees in your field of interest
  • What is your schedule like? Make sure the cheapest online colleges you are considering offer cheap online classes that work with your goals and your schedule
  • What type of degree do you want? Most affordable online degrees are associates or bachelors degrees – if you want a graduate degree know that you will have to pay more and will not have as many options
  • What goals do you want to achieve? If you want to be a top lawyer, perhaps inexpensive online colleges are not perfect for you, but if you simply want to advance your education in your career, affordable online schools can be helpful

Can You Still Benefit From Financial Aid At Affordable Online Schools?

Just because a school has affordable online degrees does not mean you cannot also take advantage of financial aid options at even the cheapest online colleges.

If you qualify for a scholarship or private/public financial aid, there is no reason that you cannot use that with even the most affordable online colleges.

Combing aid with cheap online schools allows your financial aid to go a long way, potentially leaving you with only a tiny bill at the end of each semester.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Most Affordable Online Colleges

Below, please find a detailed review of each of the inexpensive online colleges on our list of cheap online schools. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these affordable online schools to score so high in our selection ranking.

Brigham Young University – Idaho Review

We will start off our list of cheapest online colleges with the college with the cheapest affordable online degrees on our list: Brigham Young University – Idaho.

Affordable Online Colleges

Image Source: Brigham Young University

This cheapest online university is connected to the reputable network of Brigham Young Universities, all of which are affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The fee structure of these cheap online classes works like this:

  • If you are taking 11 credits or fewer, you only pay $163 per credit
  • If you are taking 12 credits or more, you are charged a per semester rate of $1960

These courses will lead you to receive one of their thirteen certificates (14 to 15 credits), one of their six associate’s degrees (60 credits) or one of their eleven bachelor’s degrees (120 credits).

Note that there are no graduate degree programs available.

As one of the best affordable online colleges, Bingham Young University, along with their affordable online degrees, were ranked #10 in “Regional Colleges West” by U.S. News.

Most Affordable Online Colleges #1: Other Fees

  • Application fee: $35

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Columbia College Review

Now let’s take a look at the next choice on our list of cheap online colleges: Columbia College. With over 35 locations nationwide, Columbia also offers cheap online courses.

Columbia College explains their program this way: “Online classes allow you to fit your accredited Columbia College degree around your other commitments. You’ll have weekly assignments and deadlines to meet, but when you do them is up to you.”

As one of the top cheapest online colleges, Columbia offers:

  • Over 350 accredited online classes
  • 27 accredited online degree programs

With almost 16,000 students enrolled in these cheap online courses, you can join many others in getting that degree through this cheapest online university.

While Columbia does have the highest undergraduate tuition cost on our list of cheap online colleges, it is still under $300 per credit hour. The cost of graduate courses, on the other hand, is in the middle of the list.

Most Affordable Online Colleges #2: Other Fees

  • Application fee (under/grad): $35/$55
  • Graduation fee (under/grad): $74/$120
  • Returned check fee: $25
  • Deferred payment plan fee: $35
  • Transcript: $10

Fort Hays State University Review

Next up on our list of good cheap online colleges for 2017 is Fort Hays State University, a fully accredited college. Last year, this cheapest online university had over 6,300 online students.

As one of the top affordable online colleges, Fort Hays offers a wide variety of “high-quality, nationally ranked and career-relevant” cheap online degrees for bachelors.

They also offer graduate business and graduate education programs.

95% of students who apply are placed into a program. In particular, Fort Hays is welcoming to Hispanic students into their affordable online degrees and programs with their Hispanic College Institute.

Fort Hays’ cheap online courses are ranked at #15 for “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” by U.S. News. This is impressive when you consider it has the second lowest cost on our list of cheap online colleges.

Most Affordable Online Colleges #3: Other Fees

  • Undergrad admission fee: $30
  • Graduate admission fee: $40

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Minot State University Review

Another one of the cheapest online colleges to consider is Minot State University. Based out of North Dakota, this is one of the top affordable online colleges when it comes to graduate school options.

Of course there are plenty of undergraduate choices including business, human services, and more. You can find an associates program and undergraduate certificates as well.

But the graduate options are some of the least expensive, even among other inexpensive online colleges.

At this cheapest online university, you will find:

  • Master of Science in Management
  • Master of Science in Information Systems
  • Master of Science in Special Education (along with many emphasis options)
  • Graduate Certificate in Knowledge Management

While all of these cheap online classes can be done from anywhere, some classes do have a designated start time each week. For these, students will need a web camera and microphone. All other course can be done at any time.

Note that though this is one of the top cheap online colleges, it is regionally accredited.

Most Affordable Online Colleges #4: Other Fees

  • All fees included in tuition price

Oregon State University Review

As we continue to look at the cheapest online colleges, we will move on to Oregon State University. Even without a visa, all students globally can take these cheap online classes with in-state tuition prices.

As this cheapest online university explains, they offer “a variety of educational opportunities for people interested in personal or professional enrichment and who prefer the flexibility of programs”

As one of the best affordable online colleges, Oregon State offers over 20 undergraduate degree programs and over 15 graduate programs, including a few PhD options.

If you choose to participate in one of these cheap online degrees you will receive the same exact diploma that on-campus students receive.

U.S. News named Oregon State’s cheap online classes #8 when it comes to “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.”

Note that the graduate programs cost the most on our list of affordable online colleges, but they do stay under $550 per credit hour.

Most Affordable Online Colleges #5: Other Fees

  • Application fee: $60
  • Matriculation fee: $350

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University of Arkansas Review

Last up on our list of affordable online colleges is the University of Arkansas. The on-campus college has existed since the late 1800s. Since then, they have been adding the name of their graduates to their “senior walk” sidewalk.

Most Affordable Online Colleges

Image Source: University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas’s cheap online degrees were ranked #36 when it comes to the “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” available by U.S. News. There are five of these affordable online degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

As one of the top cheapest online colleges, University of Arkansas actually offers four doctoral online programs:

  • Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

Most Affordable Online Colleges #6: Other Fees

  • Application fee: $40 (residents), $50 (non-residents)
  • Library fee: $2.70 each credit

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Conclusion – Top 6 Cheap Online Colleges

Now that you have seen an overview of some of the cheapest online colleges in 2017, you can begin choosing which of the affordable online colleges is right for you.

Before choosing one of the most affordable online colleges, make a list of all your education goals. This could be career aspirations, course material, etc. Then you can see which of these cheap online colleges can help you meet those goals.

Perhaps 2017 will be your year to finally achieve your dream of higher education through one of these most affordable online colleges.

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