Are Online College Degrees Cheaper than Traditional Ones?

There are many benefits to obtaining your online degree. The greatest of these is flexibility. What differentiates an online degree program from that of a traditional institution is that an online degree is completed on your own time, allowing for students to keep full-time jobs and spend time with their family while completing courses for their online degree.

While this is far and away why most people choose online, many people also want to know if an online degree is more cost-effective.


The answer to this question is more complicated than yes or no. Every online college varies in its pricing for degrees, but online college degree programs typically offer classes that are monetarily very similar to traditional institutions. Don’t expect drastically cheaper classes simply because it is an online college degree. After all, you expect the quality of your degree to be the same as that of a traditional college. Very cheap classes can even indicate that the online college you are using is not up to par and possibly lacking accreditation. But the overall picture of the cost of higher education should be considered. There are a number of added expenses, outside of class cost alone, that make traditional institutions much more costly. These include:

  • Auto Expenditures. Going to and from your home and a traditional institution results in extra monetary expenditures due to wear and tear on your car, extra stops at the gas pump and paying for parking garages or parking permits.
  • Room and Board. If the institution that offers your program is not within commuting distance you will end up spending thousands extra in rent and food consumed while on campus.
  • Additional Fees. Most online universities ask you to pay for the classes only. Traditional universities stick on many various extras such as “lab fees,” “TA fees” or “equipment use fees.”

When choosing between an online college degree and that of a traditional university, cost should not be your first deciding factor. But monetary benefits do exist when all the factors adding to the cost of higher education are explored.