What Is The Cheapest Online Bachelor’s Degree?

Completing a 4-year accredited US bachelor’s degree for a total cost between $5000 to $7000 is definitely among the cheapest out there. The colleges I’ll highlight in this article are exactly that. They have the lowest enrollment fees and related costs. They also have many low-priced online course options that charge between $15 to $33 per credit.

The colleges with the cheapest online bachelor’s degree are:

  1. Excelsior College in Albany, NY
  2. Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, NJ
  3. Granite State College in Concord, NH
  4. Charter Oak State College in Concord, CT
  5. Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY
  6. Western Governors University in Salk Lake City, UT
  7. Franklin University in Columbus, OH
  8. University of Wisconsin Parkside in Parkside, WI
  9. Goodwin College of Professional Studies, Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA
  10. Middle Tennessee State University – Adult Degree Programs in Murfreesboro, TN

College Campus Red Building

Cheapest Self-Paced Online College

Here are additional details of these Colleges with Top 10 Online College Degrees :

  1. The college is Accredited and widely recognized everywhere.
  2. The tuition fees and other costs are Affordable without the need to take any student loans.
  3. There are many ways to save time and complete the degree quickly by leveraging previous courses and experience. I have known many people who completed their online bachelors degree at these colleges in about 2 to 3 years by transferring in their prior college courses and work experience.
  4. They have a wide array of online courses by which the entire college degree can be completed online.
  5. The degree choices are many and you have numerous college majors to choose from.
  6. There are a number of ways to earn college credits such as online college courses, credits transfer, writing standardized exams such as CLEP, or even non-accredited courses or work experience.
  7. There are also quite a few free online courses which qualify for college credits via ACE (American Council on Education).
  8. Opportunities to connect with many fellow students and faculty. This will help you to stay motivated and to get help as and when needed.
  9. Rolling student enrollments either continuously throughout the year, or multiple enrollment windows during the year.
  10. Ability to customize the course content. As long as you meet the broad degree requirements, you can choose any online course, college course or learning at these colleges. This will ensure that you learn things which you enjoy and do not have to spend time studying things which do not interest you!

Cheapest Online College Per Credit Hour

All of these colleges allow students to take ACE and NCCRS accredited online courses for college credit. 

Though the in-house online courses at these colleges are cheaper than most, what makes the online courses the cheapest is these low-cost ACE and NCCRS accredited online course providers.

The most popular online course providers that are accepted at these colleges include:

  1. Study.com offering unlimited courses for $199/month
  2. Sophia.org with unlimited online courses for $79/month
  3. Saylor.org offering free online college courses
  4. StraighterLine.com at $99 monthly fee plus $59 per online college course

More details on these accredited online college courses can be found in the post on Low-cost Online College Courses For Credit.

Excelsior College

Excelsior College

Excelsior is the largest of these colleges, enrolls over 40,000 students a year and graduates over 5,000 students each year.

The college is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is located in Albany in New York State.

Excelsior has a wide array of degree specialties to choose from, including liberal arts, technology, nursing, business, health sciences, and public service.

The college has many online courses, unlimited credits transfer policy and many ways for students to gain credits such as college courses, CLEP or other such exams, online MOOC courses and portfolio assessment.

Uniform fees apply to all students, whether they are in-state or out-of-state. There is an initial enrollment fee and an annual student services fee. So, you can save a lot of money completing your degree at Excelsior a lot sooner.

If you already have a number of college-level credits or experience prior to enrolling, it will be easy to save time and money at this private college. This is accomplished by credits transfer of learning from accredited sources, and a portfolio assessment for learning from non-accredited sources such as work experience or other training.

Thomas Edison State College

Thomas Edison State College is a large college with many online courses and enrolls about 20,000 students a year.

Established in 1972, with its main center located in Trenton, New Jersey, the college is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Thomas Edison State College

The college offers degrees in more than 100 areas of study at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level. The college offers degrees in technology, business, liberal arts and nursing. Thomas Edison has a very liberal credit transfer policy.

Numerous students have stated that they were able to get all their prior credits transferred to Thomas Edison easily.

For students who go with the per-credit tuition plan at Thomas Edison and want to complete their degree here, there are mandatory 16 credits that need to be completed at Thomas Edison. Such students can pay a residency waiver of about $2,000 to fulfill this requirement.

The remaining credits can be earned by a combination of credits transfer, standardized exams such as CLEP and MOOC courses (ACE accredited), and prior-learning assessment. The out-of-state students are required to pay about 25 percent higher fees per credit/tuition plan than the in-state students.

Granite State College

Granite State College is a well-recognized college in the University System of New Hampshire. Granite is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

There is also CCNE accreditation for the RN to BSN program and a professional accreditation for the MS in project management.

The college has about 4,000 students actively enrolled, with about 500 students graduating each year.

The college has a very large number of bachelor’s degree programs in numerous specialties such as business, technology, liberal arts, health sciences, and nursing. There is even a BA in individualized studies that allows students to create their own major combining their personal interests with academics.

The tuition costs are manageable with a small difference in the per-credit fee between in-state and out-of-state students. There is a lowered academic services fee and a reduced undergraduate/graduate conferral fee for graduation. The college also seems to proctor CLEP and DSST exams for a small fee.

Most bachelor’s programs at Granite require students to earn about 30 credits directly from the Granite college courses. These can be earned via the college’s online courses. The rest can be a combination of credit transfer, standardized exams, and prior-learning credits.

  • Apart from the credit transfer, the prior-learning assessment for the bachelor’s program is limited to 60 credits for a flat fixed fee.

Charter Oak State College

Charter Oak is a well-known and much smaller college that enrolls over 3,000 students a year with over 500 students graduating every year.

The college is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and by the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education.

Bachelor’s degrees in business, health care, information systems, public safety, and paralegal studies are all offered. Charter Oak is also unique in that they allow students to create their own individualized degree plans that can include more than one specialty within the same degree.

The key drawback is that the tuition for out-of-state students is much higher than that of Connecticut residents. Charter Oak accepts about 87 credits to be transferred into the degree via credits transfer. There is also a higher student services fee every semester.

As long as you are able to transfer in many credits to Charter Oak, and once you utilize many low cost ways of earning the remaining credits such as standardized exams and so on, the overall cost of a Charter Oak degree can still be affordable.

Empire State College

Empire State College enrolls over 20,000 students a year and is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Empire State offers bachelor’s degrees in 12 areas of study including science, technology, arts, business, economics, nursing, and so on. Master’s degrees are offered in business/management, education, liberal studies, policy studies, and nursing. There are also dual bachelor’s-cum-master’s degree programs.

For the bachelor’s degree, only 93 credits out of the total of 124 credits can be transferred from other sources. The rest of the 31 credits have to be completed at Empire State College. This certainly will increase the expense of completing a college degree at Empire State.

Nevertheless, students can choose among a wide array of online courses at Empire State College. Alternatively, students can take classes at any of the 35-plus study centers in the New York State or at a few locations abroad.

Western Governors University

Founded in 1997 by 19 governors, this online college also provides limited credit transfer for prior credits. The college currently enrolls over 70,000 students in its online degree programs.

The college is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

There are four professional areas that WGU offers accredited degrees in teaching, business, information technology, and health care. WGU charges a fixed, affordable fee for every six months, irrespective of the number of credits earned.

WGU has online courses for almost all their degree requirements. WGU has a competency-based model, and if a student already knows the material, they can test out instead of completing the courses. There are also certifications that can be undertaken instead of the courses in some cases.

The grading at WGU is considered very strict, and only a pass/fail grade is awarded. There are no letter grades. This makes it difficult in case the student wants to transfer credits out of WGU. WGU graduates appear to get better jobs, and the college boasts recommendations from Ex-President Obama and Bill Gates.

Franklin University

Established in 1902, Franklin University has its main campus in Columbus, Ohio with branches in Illinois and Indiana.

The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission which grew out of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The college has many career-focused degree programs in technology, business, health sciences, nursing, social sciences and much more,

Professionals with industry experience teach the Franklin courses and the college also has a large career assistance division for graduating students. Franklin University provides credits transfer of prior credits, has a wide range of online courses for the degree programs and also awards for standardized exams such as CLEP.

University of Wisconsin Parkside

At the center for adult and returning students in the University of Wisconsin Parkside, students can benefit from affordable and flexible degree programs in business, technology, nursing and much more.

The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, (HLC) a commission of the North Central Association. In addition to prior-learning assessment for credits transfer, standardized exams such as CLEP and portfolio assessment for non-accredited learning, the college also has its own challenge exams to test a student’s learning on a topic for awarding college credits.

Goodwin College of Professional Studies, Drexel University

Located in Philadelphia, PA, Goodwin college of Drexel University has a long history of providing flexible degree programs for busy adults.

The college provides credits transfer, prior-learning assessment, standardized assessment and a multitude of other ways to earn college credits. To get started, the college provides the option of an initial transfer credit evaluation so you can gauge where you stand for completing your degree, before deciding to enroll at the college.

Middle Tennessee State University – Adult Degree Programs

With multiple ways of earning college credits, the college has many affordable online courses for in-state residents.

Though out-of-state students can also enroll, the per-credit tuition for out-of state students is a lot higher here. In such cases, it is best to have a lot of prior credits for transfer and to utilize the standardized exams and portfolio assessment for evaluating non-accrediting learning. This will help save a lot of money for out-of-state students at this college.

Most of these Colleges with Top 10 Online College Degrees require students to have at least a few prior credits, but that is not the case here.

Students can even enroll in this Adult Degree Program with no prior college credits.


Note that these colleges are specifically designed for busy adults and provide both affordability and flexibility in an online and transfer-friendly learning environment. In most cases, it is suitable for everyone who has completed some form of college learning.

If you are a high school graduate, you are eligible to enroll in these colleges by simply taking 2 or more CLEP exams, along with some ACE-accredited courses on Saylor academy. For guaranteed results in CLEP exams along with help from a community of CLEP test-takers, consider purchasing a CLEP guide at InstantCert.

Instantert for CLEP Test Prep

In addition to having affordable costs, all of these colleges provide some form of financial aid to students. Please do consider applying for a scholarship or grant if you’re getting ready to enroll. But be sure to avoid taking any form of student loans so you don’t end up down the vicious loan repayment cycle upon graduation.

Recent Posts

error: Content is protected !!