The 25 Schools with the Cheapest Out of State Tuition
Today’s changing economy and the need for many working people to retool their skill sets make the value of online education more salient than ever. Many working adults know the challenge of surviving in the shifting landscape of the post-recession economy. Those with the courage and energy to return to school while maintaining a family or career know better than anyone the value of online courses. Modern communications technology makes continued education more accessible than ever. We have compiled a rank listing of the nation’s 25 most affordable online programs so that you can match them against one another and find the best fit for your continued learning.
Methodology: At BCV, we believe affordability is the key to achieving true value in a college education. With student loan debt at record highs, most students are apprehensive about the cost of education. This straightforward ranking is designed to be easy to understand and relevant to your concerns. We first collected raw tuition data for the year 2014-15 from the National Center for Education Statistics. Then, we filtered the data to include only accredited schools offering undergraduate degrees in 3 or more majors appearing on The Princeton Review’s Top 10 or Forbes’ Top Degrees For Getting Hired in 2015. We ranked the remaining schools according to lowest out of state tuition and fees. The results that follow are the nation’s 25 Most Affordable Colleges. N.B.: The figures given are out of state tuition, plus fees. There may be more affordable options available to you, depending on your state of origin.
25 Grantham University – Kansas City, MO – $31,232
First established in 1951 by WWII veteran Donald Grantham, GU is dedicated to the mission of helping veterans raise the quality of their lives through advanced education. This wholly online university offers more than 40 accredited degree programs. It serves a diverse student body guided by the belief that education should enhance the student’s life rather than pose a burden. GU’s faculty work for this goal by minimizing common obstacles to higher learning. Eliminating the burdens of transportation, is the first way they do this. Focusing on service to the student, they aim to cover any and all of the educational stop-gaps that the peculiarities of student life can pose.
24 Concordia College Alabama – Selma, AL – $30,520
Founded in 1922 under the name Alabama Luther College, Concordia College has grown dramatically in its 93 years. It began as an effort by Rosa Young to offer religious education to rural African Americans living in Central Alabama. She managed to grow her school in Wilcox County from just seven students to 215 in only three terms in 1914. Concordia and its early incarnations endured recessions, the Great Depression and the tribulations of the Civil Rights Era. In 1983 Concordia earned accreditation for its associate’s degree program by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It received its bachelor’s accreditation in 1994 and has since grown into a four-year college. Today Concordia proudly adheres to the spirit of its founder who wrote, “‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant,’ is the language of the Great Teacher. To serve is regarded as a divine privilege as well as a duty by every right-minded man.”
23 West Texas A&M University – Canyon, TX – $28,735
A&M’s programs are uniquely designed to prepare its students to prosper in a world of rapidly changing technology and economics, and to appreciate the ways human creativity can enable people and communities to find novel ways to thrive under conditions of flux.
“At West Texas A&M University you will be challenged to learn, to develop an appreciation of the arts, literature, and different cultures and to grow intellectually and socially. At WTAMU, your intellectual and personal growth will take place not only in the classroom, but also in the full array of social, athletic and extracurricular activities that are provided on campus.”
– A&M President, J. Patrick O’Brien, Ph.D.
22 Alcorn State University – Alcron State, MS – $22,896
Founded in 1971, Alcorn State University is the oldest public, and historically Black land-grant institution in the U.S. It is the second oldest state-supported institution of higher learning in the state of Mississippi. Alcorn’s mission statement stresses a commitment to lifelong learning, intellectual development, the integration of diverse pedagogies, public service, applied research, professional programs, and internationally competitive programs. School President, Alfred Rankins, invites the public and prospective students to visit the Alcorn campus to talk with students and teachers and learn why their people are more than just students and faculty – they are family. Alcorn is committed to community outreach programs designed to promote diversity and inclusivity.
21 Virginia University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg, VA – $22,657
First established in 1890 after the construction of the first building and a series of more humble incarnations, the Virginia University has had 16 presidents. Its 2nd President, Professor G.W. Hayes, popularized the school’s philosophy of self-help while overseeing the completion of VU’s iconic building, Hayes Hall.
“ […] VUL is proud to offer higher education to students who may not have the chance to attend larger traditional universities. In a real sense, we see ourselves as the ancient phoenix who recreates itself from the ashes of its past. We invite you to participate in our resurrection.”
-Dr. Ralph Reavis, President
For over 125 years, VU at Lynchburg has been training leaders committed to a coeducational ethic and Biblical principles with an emphasis on independence and progressive thinking.
20 Columbia College – Columbia, MO – $22,609
For over 160 years, Columbia College has been in the business of helping students advance their skills and their livelihoods through higher education. This private, not for prophet, coeducational Science and Liberal Arts college takes pride in its small class sizes, experienced faculty, and high-quality educational programs. Columbia began in 1970 as an exclusively all-female Cristian college and was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by a state legislature. With more than 36 campuses nationwide, day and evening campuses in Columbia, MO – and the Online Campus, Columbia College serves nearly 30,000 students each year with a faculty to student ratio of 11:1.
19 Ohio University – South Campus – Ironton, OH – $22,028
South Campus is the first regional university to be established in Ohio and the Northwest Territory of the U.S. It was founded in 1956 with two-year evening courses for teaching students. Since then, it has grown to offer over 30 degree and certificate programs. It has remained true to its founding goal of providing high-quality education for students who have sought to further their careers, enhance their skills, and better their families by engaging in continued learning programs. They are committed to serving both traditional students as well as returning students, and first-time adult learners. The staff of South Campus actively work to dispel any stigma surrounding older students in accordance with their vision that learning is a lifelong process.
18 Aspen University – Denver, CO – $21,250
AU of Denver takes pride in offering motivated college level students an opportunity to achieve a quality education that is responsibly priced. They are dedicated to providing distance learning to those who want to achieve a sustainable economic and social standing for themselves and their families. To achieve this, they adhere to an ethic based on economic responsibility, advocacy, research and the promotion of cultural competence. AU is proud to offer tuition rates low enough that most of their students will not be forced to take on unwieldy levels of student debt. They are dedicated to the goal of promoting a real return on the educational investment for their students.
17 New Mexico Highlands University – Las Vegas, NM – $20,870
The faculty of New Mexico Highlands University describe themselves with a single word, ‘Passionate.’ They are passionate about their respective fields of expertise, and they are passionate about helping their students acquire the competence they need to be successful. Many of them have been recognized for their work and outstanding research by such agencies as the National Science Foundation, NASA, and National Geographic. They are an especially distinguished group by virtue of the fact that unlike larger universities, they teach at all college levels from freshman to graduate. The academic success of students is Highlands University’s priority. By offering diverse support activities and services, Highlands U. works to help ensure every student can reach her or his full potential.
16 Bellevue University – Bellevue, NE – $20,850
Bellevue University takes pride in viewing each and every one of its students as unique, each with unique learning styles and untapped potential. BU provides the opportunity to gain a one-of-a-kind educational experience to those with the courage to work hard, the determination to meet challenges- the kind of students who recognize opportunity when it presents itself and jump to meet it. Bellevue is proud to be accredited by the U.S. Department of Education so as to ensure students that they can expect to get the most out of the credits they earn through transferability, relevance, and uncompromising quality.
15 Oklahoma Panhandle State University – Goodwell, OK – $20,039
Created by an act of Oklahoma State Legislature in 1909, OPSU was authorized to offer a two-year curriculum in 1921 when its name changed to Panhandle Agricultural and Mechanical College. Its upper division courses were authorized in 1925, as were its junior and senior-level courses in 1926. OPSU is made unique by demographic and geographic factors that work to make it the only four-year institution in a 125mile radius. This and low population levels work to keep classroom sizes small. As a result, OPSU has limited offerings. But they use this to their advantage, catering to mostly first-generation college students. The personable atmosphere they create helps to assure the success of such students who otherwise might be put off by a more intense academic setting.
14 Louisiana State University – Shreveport, LA – $19,969
LSU broke ground in 1967 and has the distinction of offering the most coveted degree available in the South, the LSU Systems degree. Recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a Title V Institution, LSU’s mission is to promote critical thinking as a core value for its famously well-rounded students. This school is well known for its generous scholarships/financial aid, excellent programs, and beautiful campus. It boasts a host of involvement opportunities ranging from a series of volunteer positions to its championship Debate Team. Having been cited by the U.S. Dept. of Education as one of the most affordable colleges in Louisiana, and famous for high quality instruction, LSU is arguably one of the most desirable institutions of higher learning in the country.
13 Southern University at New Orleans – New Orleans, LA – $19,925
Founded in the early years of the civil rights era, Southern University at New Orleans has reached out to offer academic opportunities to African Americans for nearly 60 years. SUNO still stands out as a beacon to anyone in search of educational advancement at a school that prides itself on the personal attention it provides to the students who need it most. Their goal is to remain one of the country’s leading urban institutions of higher learning, and to produce graduate students who possess the skills and the knowledge to make meaningful contributions to New Orleans, and the nation.
After the disaster had brought on by Hurricane Katrina, SUNO’s facilities were severely diminished. Large portions of their campus had been relocated numerous times over the last seven years. But in September of 2014, the school announced that it is back to full capacity as the last of the FEMA shelter trailers have been removed and replaced by new permanent structures.
12 Southwest Minnesota State University – Marshall, MN – $19,782
Southwest Minnesota State University is a high-quality four-year school offering degree programs in the liberal arts as well as a number of majors designed to prepare students for a life that is professionally successful and personally satisfying. SMSU has developed into a high ranking institution, producing scholars who become tomorrow’s thinkers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Both the faculty and students of SMSU come to partake of the ‘Southwest Experience’ which begins with rigorous academics, fulfilling opportunities to engage socially and to support their fellow Mustangs. SMSU invites potential students and the public to visit their campus and see for themselves what this school has to offer.
11 Dickinson State University – Dickinson, ND – $19,045
Recently, DSU ranked 2nd in the nation for job placement on a list of 30 colleges dedicated to the goal of helping their students find their places in the job market. The main criteria for the rankings were statistics drawn from databasing websites and on the availability of information. From career service and school websites. DSU placed highly due to its online tools, career hunting processes, and programs. DSU students utilize three job search and career matching tools the college makes available to them. These are; Focus 2, a self-assessment tool provided by select colleges to help point students in an advantageous direction; Hawk4Hire, a website that allows students and alumni to access recently posted internships and job listings, and; the Career Ladder, an exclusive program that allows students the chance to meet with prospective employers.
10 Delta State University – Cleveland, MS – $18,887
A public institution is providing comprehensive undergraduate and graduate degree programs to service more than 4,000 students from every state and over 20 countries, DSU began as a college for developing educators. Since then, it has stayed true to its roots by remaining dedicated to the art of transmitting knowledge responsibly and accurately. With dozens of degree programs at the undergraduate level to provide a multitude of educational opportunities, students may choose from; Arts and Sciences, Business, education, nursing and more. Graduate degree programs are on offer from master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral-level instruction provide advanced training over a wide scope of disciplines.
9 Mississippi Valley State University – Itta Bena, MS – $18,883
The Mississippi Valley State University prides itself on preparing students for life after college. With its Colleges of the Arts & Sciences, Graduate School, and Professional Studies, MVSU gives its students a range of future career opportunities and educational benefits crafted to be of lasting benefit. MVSU values the quality of life outside of the classroom, encouraging students to balance their academic lives with healthy activities and sufficient recovery time. The faculty is an especially advanced group of scholars with 68% holding Ph.Ds. This school’s diverse student body is made up of students from all over Canada and the U.S.
8 Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City, OK – $18,860
OSU delivers collegiate level student services and transferable degree programs. Its support services and professional development provide a comprehensive guide for students transitioning from school to careers based on the premise of a technologically advancing world. It is the preeminent academic resource in Oklahoma City and enhances lives through the provision of; exceptional degree programs, high-quality learning opportunities, and superior support services. They operate on the philosophy that every individual deserves dignity, respect, equal opportunities, disability assistance, and the chance to develop fully. OSU is committed to fostering responsible citizenship marked by responsiveness to change in a rapidly changing world.
7 Minot State University – Minot, ND – $18,746
Nicknamed the “Magic City” for its prodigious growth during the early 1900s, the city of Minot is a center of commerce, healthcare, culture, industry, agribusiness and is home to MSU, a campus where East meets west at the northern edge of Mouse River Valley. It is in this seemingly enchanted setting that MSU serves a student body from across the globe. MSU offers undergraduate courses both on campus and via distance courses. They are host to an impressive array of accredited degree programs and offer a number of non-credit professional development training experiences that are available to students and the community at large.
6 Trident University International – Cypress, CA – $17,447
Established in 1998, this young school based in Cypress, CA utilizes a specialized learning model unlike any other offering in online education. It’s the alma mater of over 25,000 military and adult students as evidence of the diversity of its student body. Trident emphasizes individual success by building a relationship with the student that lasts well into early careers. The TUI vision is that the school should become the university of choice for adult students and be recognized for excellence, career advancement, and affordability. The TUI promise is the same as their core value- a promise of commitment to the student.
5 Peru State College – Peru, NE – $17,216
PSU’s mission is to enrich society by educating the individual. They achieve this by cultivating student’s capacity for lifelong learning through independent inquiry in the search for new knowledge. Their innovative graduate and undergraduate programs have made Nebraska’s first full-fledged university famous for its commitment to contributing to the region, the state and its future. PSU’s goals are simple but meaningful; to instill communication skills in students, foster technological literacy, promote independent thought, prepare students to take responsibility for their communities, and the pursuit of intellectual and ethical integrity.
4 Columbia Southern University – Orange Beach, AL – $14,737
Columbia Southern University is an online school based in Orange Beach, AL that strives to improve student lives by enabling them to optimize their skills and potential. A division of Columbia Southern Education Group, CSU offers on-line degree programs at the associate, bachelor and master’s degree levels in areas such as occupational safety and health, human resource management, administration, business, criminal justice, and healthcare administration. CSU additionally options college graduate and undergraduate certificate programs to produce focused coaching in specialized areas for adult learners. CSU offers student-centered support services that are personal, responsive and aimed at aiding students in the achievement of their instructional goals. Caring and well-trained staff produce innovative programs that incorporate the most recent tutorial technology with challenging curricula. CSU focuses on low-cost, quality online instruction with a general educational foundation that promotes life-long success and learning.
3 Western Governors University – Salt Lake City, UT – $13,270
WGU was founded in 1995 during a bipartisan collaboration of the Western Governors Association. On entering, the chairman, Utah Governor- Mike Leavitt, realized that distance learning had the potential to solve one of the Utah’s most pressing dilemmas: rapid population growth and the limited capacity of public schools to cope with it. The governors decided at that meeting to create a university of their own. They authorized the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems to work together in the creation of a new university. The result was an online school with a mission to expand access to education through communications technology.
2 Brigham Young University – Rexburg, ID – $11,900
BYU of Idaho is a private four-year institution associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So guided, BYU’s mission is to engender a wholesome atmosphere conducive to learning where students can advance their educations while strengthening their commitments to their faith. Founded in 1888 by Latter-Day Saint settlers in Rexburg ID, it has grown and matured over the years. The many changes to its name and curriculum have not changed its mission of providing a quality education to students while remaining true to its roots and community.
1 Western International University – Tempe, AZ – $11,636
A bastion of innovation in education, Western International University was created as a response to the massive unmet need in the U.S. for high-quality post-secondary education for working adults. Having begun as an entirely campus-based school in Phoenix, AZ- they rapidly transformed in accordance to changes in the available technology to become one of the most outstanding providers of online and distance learning available. Having recently re-engineered their programs to fit better a fast changing economy, WIU is better equipped than ever to give its students the tools they need to find their place in today’s ever-shifting job market.