Affordable Online Universities With Payment Plans

colleges with payment plans

Key Takeaways:

  • Payment plans at online universities enhance accessibility, reduce financial burdens, and support diverse student populations.
  • Common payment options include Monthly, Semester-based, and Partial Payments, varying to suit different financial needs and preferences.
  • Selecting universities with strategic payment plans can help students manage costs effectively, avoiding substantial debt.


The cost of attending higher education has significantly increased over the years. According to the Education Data Initiative, the increase between 2009-10 and 2019-20 at four-year public schools was 39.9%. Moreover, private institutions saw a 44.2% increase within the same period.


Featured Programs

The rapid increase in tuition and fees has made it difficult, if not impossible, for many students to pursue higher education. In fact, a Pew Research Center study indicated that enrollment in US colleges in 2022 was 1.2 million fewer than in 2011.

Fortunately, many aspiring students have learned about the concept and availability of affordable online universities. There’s a global growth in online learning.

Another empowering option for a manageable online learning experience is to utilize tuition payment plans. These plans allow students to spread out the cost of their education over a semester or academic year, making the payments more manageable and less daunting.

Here’s a quick overview of the commonly used online university tuition options:

  • Monthly: This plan allows students to make equal monthly payments throughout the academic year.
  • Semester-based: This plan divides the total cost of tuition and fees into two or three installments.
  • Partial payment: This plan will allow students to put a downpayment on the total tuition cost, depending on their capacity, and pay the rest often at their own pace.

Benefits of Tuition Payment Plans

According to the Education Data Initiative data, 43.2 million students are currently dealing with federal student loan debt, illustrating the widespread financial struggles among those pursuing higher education.

However, there’s a ray of hope: in 2023, for the first time, student loan debt actually decreased. The trend of student debt accumulation is changing, offering relief for borrowers.

Financial awareness is one of the reasons for the decreased number of students in debt. Attending online colleges and universities with lower tuition rates and flexible tuition payment options has become a very popular option. And here’s why:

#1 Online universities are more affordable and inclusive

Most online colleges and universities charge lower tuition rates because online students are not expected to use campus facilities that require maintenance fees. Additionally, they can reach a broader audience without geographical constraints, allowing them to distribute fixed costs across a larger student base.

#2 Budget-friendly tuition plans give you better budget management

Because you’re able to pay the tuition fee in staggered payments, you have greater control over your finances, allowing you to allocate your cash more effectively for other expenses. It’s common for colleges to give students the option to decide on payment plans for online education, assessing their needs and circumstances.

Criteria for Selecting Affordable Online Universities

As the number of affordable online degree programs rises, it’s crucial to navigate the landscape wisely. The key is to strike a balance between affordability and quality.

Here are the factors to consider when selecting an online affordable university:

  • Ensure accreditations: Unaccredited online colleges and programs often offer lower tuition rates but are deemed subpar by employers. This will hinder career advancement and credit transfer as they’re most likely unrecognized, wasting time and money.
  • Overall tuition cost: In addition to per credit hour cost, you also need to consider other factors like online textbooks and technology requirements. Some online programs may have hidden costs that can significantly impact the overall affordability.
  • Online university financial aid: Some colleges do not offer financial aid to their online students. Explore the institution’s availability of tuition assistance for online students, including grants and scholarships.
  • Student support services: Ensure that the university offers strong support services to online students, including academic advising, tutoring, technical support, library resources, and career counseling.

To assess the quality of education at an online college or university, you can:

  1. Browse faculty members and evaluate their qualifications and experiences. Plus points if faculty members allow prospective students to connect with them and inquire about the program.
  2. Read student reviews and testimonials for insights into the overall student experience. Student reviews can offer insightful, first-hand accounts of many facets of the online school or institution. This will help you assess advantages and disadvantages and determine if it fits your academic and professional objectives.

Affordable Online Universities with Tuition Payment Plans

Western Governors University (WGU)

Western Governors University is known for its affordable tuition rates ($8,010 for a bachelor’s and $8,444 for a master’s) and its unique approach to educating online students. WGU focuses on competency-based learning, assessing skills and skills rather than classroom time to provide students with tailored skills for success.

WGU also offers flexible monthly payment plans. Here’s a quick highlight of their popular financial flexibility in online education:  

  • The total tuition fee will be divided into equal monthly payments according to the program’s length.
  • You can complete the program earlier than the stated length permitted and be billed monthly until the total balance is paid in full for your diploma.
  • There is no prepayment penalty.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Southern New Hampshire University has among the most extensive offerings, with over 200 programs available. Online undergraduate degrees from SNHU cost an average of $9,900 per 30 credits, while their master’s degrees average $9,555 per 15 credits.

SNHU also offers excellent payment plans for its online students to help them manage and budget their educational expenses effectively. Here are factors that made their payment structure appealing:

  • All students can use a payment plan to pay their remaining balance without an extensive approval process.
  • Students can pay their tuition every month throughout the academic year.
  • When students enroll in a payment plan without knowing their total costs, they can estimate their expenses later on and adjust the plan as needed.

University of Florida Online (UF Online)

The University of Florida Online’s programs are popular for its competitive curriculum and tuition costs. Additionally, UF Online fosters among the strongest and largest academic support services available to online students. This includes academic advising and planning, an online library, and disability resource center, among others.

UF Online does not offer tuition payment plans. However, students can make incremental payments towards their tuition balance. They also have the cheapest online per credit hours costs.

  • In-state: $129.18
  • Out-of-state: $552.62

Its online university financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships and non-SFA administered aid, also made UF Online an attractive option.

While the program has low costs, it offers an ROI equal to that of its expensive competitors. Students praised the speed with which staff members responded to inquiries about the payment plans. The payment methods also made it easy to keep track of deadlines and payments made, such as through email alerts.

Purdue University Global

Another top competitor in affordability and student support services is Purdue University Global. Its online undergraduate and graduate programs have a cost per quarter credit hour of $371 and $420 to $700, respectively, for non-residents. On the other hand, residents pay $280 per quarter credit for undergraduate courses and enjoy a 10% tuition discount for graduate programs.

Purdue Global’s tuition payment plans are perhaps unique. Unlike other schools, the plans differ every semester.

The Fall and Spring semesters have two payment plan options, both requiring to be set up on or before the first day of class in August & January and a $60 setup fee. Here’s a brief comparison:

4-Pay Plan2-Pay Plan
Requires a 25% down payment Requires a 20% down payment
The remaining fees are divided into three equal installmentsThe remaining fees are split into four equal installments

You can also choose between two options for the Summer semester and incur a $30 setup fee.

3-Pay Plan2-Pay Plan
to be set up in Mayto be set up in June
Requires a 34% down paymentRequires a 50% down payment

To make it more understandable, allow us to give you sample situations.

  •  A non-resident undergraduate student taking a typical 12-credit course load in the Fall would pay $4,452 ($371 x 12 credits). With the 4-Pay Plan, they could make a down payment of $1,113 and split the remaining $3,339 into three installments.
  • A resident graduate student enrolling in a 9-credit course load for Spring would pay $3,780 ($420 x 9 credits) before the 10% discount. With the 2-Pay Plan, they could make a down payment of $756 and split the remaining $3,024 into four installments.

Arizona State University Online (ASU Online)

Arizona State University Online is focused on inclusivity and accessibility, allowing it to rank as the most innovative online school by several reputable ranking organizations. It offers an affordable online per-credit-hour cost, ranging from $561–$1,343 per credit hour, and various financial aid options.

ASU Online’s tuition payment plan offers two enrollment options: Automatic Enrollment and Voluntary Enrollment. Automatic Enrollment is the most considerate feature of payment plans, giving students an automatic structured payment option to manage their financial obligations effectively. It may incur an interest rate that won’t be as significant as the loan interest rates.

ASU Online’s tuition payment plans have specific requirements. Unlike others, they require students to re-enroll every session. For the Fall and Spring plans, residents and non-residents must pay an enrollment fee of $100 and $200, respectively. In the Summer, these fees are reduced to $50 and $100, respectively.

Here’s a quick overview of the due dates for the tuition payment plan options:

August 25, September 25, October 25January 25, February 25, March 25January 25, February 25, March 25

Comparison of Tuition Payment Plans

SchoolPayment PlansStand out Feature
Western Governors UniversityMonthly payments are based on program length.Flexible; can complete program early without penalty.
Southern New Hampshire UniversityMonthly payments are made throughout the academic year.All students are eligible; can adjust the plan as needed.
University of Florida OnlineIncremental payments, no formal payment plans.Automatic and Voluntary Enrollment. Requires re-enrollment every session; enrollment fees apply.
Purdue University GlobalSemester-specific plans, varying down payments.Competitive tuition rates, discounts for residents.
Arizona State University OnlineAutomatic and Voluntary Enrollment.Requires re-enrollment every session; enrollment fees apply.Offers students with significant financial obligations with a structured payment option without the need for manual intervention.


Pursuing an affordable online university with flexible tuition payment is a strategic move to graduate without drowning in debt. The mentioned budget-friendly payment plans come with minimal or no interest, making them a more economical choice than traditional student loans. By spreading out payments over time, you can manage your expenses more effectively while still accessing quality education.