Is Online Tuition the Same as On-Campus Tuition?

As the cost of attending college is quite high, many students find themselves looking at online colleges because they assume that online college tuition is lower than the tuition charged by traditional schools. While taking classes online can help you save money, it’s important to keep in mind that hidden fees and other costs can increase the amount you pay every year. Looking at how traditional colleges compare to online schools in terms of costs can give you an idea of how much you might pay.

Cost of Attending College

According to the College Board, the average cost of attending college depends on whether you go to a public college, private university or a community college. The cost of attending a community college is around $3,400 a year, but these schools only offer associate degree programs. If you want to attend a public college in your state, you may expect to spend over $9,000 a year. Private colleges are the most expensive because these schools receive little financial support from the government. The cost of attending a private college can be more than $30,000 a year and may reach as much as $50,000 a year.

How Online Programs Compare

The cost of attending an online college varies. The cheapest and most affordable option is a traditional college that offers online programs and courses. These schools will charge the same rate as you would pay to take classes on campus or slightly less. Some online colleges that do not have traditional campuses will charge a higher rate than your local campus might charge. You’ll also find colleges that cater to working students and busy students. These schools often charge a higher rate than a local campus would.

In or Out of State

When looking at online college tuition rates, you also need to look at whether the college charges separate rates based on where you live. In-state tuition is a reduced tuition rate that applies to students who live in that state. You usually need to prove that you lived in the state for six months or up to a full year before enrolling to take advantage of this reduced rate. If you lived in another state or will live in another state after enrolling, you face a higher rate charged to students of other states. Some colleges participate in exchange programs that let those living in neighboring states qualify for reduced tuition rates.

Other Factors

As you compare online and offline tuition rates, you must also factor in the cost of living and personal expenses. Living in a dorm room on campus can easily add as much as $5,000 to your annual costs, which will make an online school more affordable. Online colleges may charge some hidden or additional fees that increase your total too. A technology fee covers the cost of using its online system, and an enrollment fee charges you for taking online classes. Some online schools charge an extra fee for fulfilling a residency requirement too.

Attending college is quite expensive, but there are some ways you can save. Attending an online college might cost much less than it would cost to attend a private university in another state. Though online college tuition may help you save, you also need to think about other costs you face, including technology and enrollment fees.

See also: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit