Online schools boast that their degree programs are less expensive than brick-and-mortar institutions, but the Difference in Tuition Rates for Residents and Non-Residents can raise the cost of a degree dramatically. It seems to make no sense; after all, online programs are virtual and accessible from anywhere, any time. Besides, there is no need for online schools to build dormitories or other campus facilities.
Still, many online degree programs offer different tuition rates to in-state students. Another thing that hikes the cost of that online degree may be additional fees.
If you are considering an online degree, you should “do your homework” about the costs.
There is an old adage that you get what you pay for, but that isn’t always true in education.
An article in U.S. News.com said that tuition for online programs varies from a bit lower than traditional campuses, to about the same tuition, to a much higher rate. There are many brick-and-mortar schools that charge the same tuition for online programs that they charge for traditional ones. You save money because you don’t have to factor in room and meal plans or child care while you are at class. If you study online and earn credits from different schools or programs, you will likely pay a penalty; schools usually lower per-credit charges if you are enrolled for several courses or for a program.
Another tiered tuition difference is in resident vs. non-resident charges. Some for-profit schools charge more per credit for those who do not reside in the state where the school is headquartered. The difference can amount to several hundred dollars per credit.
Another difference, according to Best College.org., is that for-profit schools sometimes require more credits for a degree than not-for-profits. More credits equates to more tuition. Plus, some online schools charge more for in-demand majors.
Fees and Other Charges
Some schools have begun to charge for their programs as a package containing housing and meals and sometimes even books, if the program is traditional, and mandated fees.
All online schools charge technology fees. They are not always found under that designation, but a fee for accessing Internet forums and virtual classrooms, for having access to online libraries and other online facilities is a technology fee. Though not really part of the tuition, it is a charge attached to every course taken. In a way, it is a “package.” An average amount for this type of fee is about $40 per course. Some online schools charge as much as $120 a course which, if you are taking several courses, can add up to hundreds of dollars above the listed tuition.
It is a good idea to check all charges listed for your degree, as U.S.News.com found one online school that assessed students a parking fee. Other fees attached to the degree cost may be application and graduation fees and a charge for taking exams.
Sometimes online components of traditional schools have costs that are not readily apparent. For instance, some degree programs may not be entirely online, but require a campus presence for a weekend or two each semester or quarter. If you live across the country from your school’s base, that could amount to hundreds of dollars, even a thousand or more if you fly. While employers often reimburse graduate students for tuition and books, travel is usually not included.
Students cannot take for granted that their online educations will be less costly than traditional degrees. The fact that online schools may charge more for tuition and other costs does not mean they are disreputable. It is simply another instance of “buyer beware.” Tiered tuition, fees and the Difference in Tuition Rates for Residents and Non-Residents are just things that can add a lot of money to the cost of an education, and students must be wise in selecting their programs.