If money is tight, and you’re looking for an affordable online degree, it’s probably helpful if your prospective schools don’t charge $30-$50 just to apply. If you’re looking for great, affordable online programs that waive that pesky application fee, then you’re in the right place. The schools ranked here all offer a decent selection of bachelor’s degrees (at least five), and many offer upwards of 20 degrees. Many of the schools offer one or more of the top ten most popular majors which include business, psychology, nursing, marketing, criminal justice, and communication. Our methodology was simple. We selected schools that waive the application fee, offer more than five undergraduate majors online, and cost under $30,000 (because let’s face it, any more than that can’t really be considered affordable). We then ranked those programs from most to least affordable. The result is that you end up with a ranking of the twenty most affordable online schools where applying is free!
#1. Peru State College
Students who transfer into the Peru State online program can transfer up to 90 credits applicable to their degree, and there is no application fee to speak of. Peru State offers multiple undergraduate degrees in business and criminal justice. These include degrees in accounting, marketing, management, human resources and risk management, public administration, criminal justice administration, and criminal justice counseling.
- Tuition: $7,260
#2. Johnson & Wales University
Johnson and Wales University offers 20 bachelor of science degrees and seven bachelor of science in business administration concentrations. These include degrees in psychology, marketing, residential hospitality management, food industry compliance management, hotel and lodging management, and business concentrations in entrepreneurship, human resource management, and international business. Consider Johnson & Wales in your list of online colleges with no application fee.
- Tuition: $13,360
#3. Post University
Post University offers more than 25 fully online undergraduate degrees at the associate’s and bachelor’s level. Some of the bachelor’s degrees offered include communication and media studies, psychology, applied mathematics and data science, emergency management and homeland security, human resource management, computer information systems, and human services.
- Tuition: $16,610
#4. Barclay College
Barclay College offers five online bachelor’s degrees, five online certificates, and seven online graduate degrees. Bachelor’s degrees offered are biblical studies, business management, Christian leadership, psychology, and general studies. Graduate programs offered include family ministries, pastoral ministries, Quaker studies, spiritual formation, and transformational leadership. Barclay also offers numerous online certificates in many of the same areas as the degrees offered.
- Tuition: $17,720
#5. Judson College
Judson College offers a dual enrollment program online that allows students to begin their college career while still in their last two years of high school. Among the online degrees offered are business administration, interdisciplinary studies, music, psychology, criminal justice, english, history, religious studies, Spanish and elementary and secondary education.
- Tuition: $17,896
#6. Columbia College (SC)
Columbia College South Carolina offers online bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, disaster and emergency management/fire science, nursing, respiratory care, and speech language pathology. The graduate school offers athletic coaching and criminal justice degrees online. Students can enroll in the program as long as they meet the minimum required GPA of 2.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
- Tuition: $19,500
#7. Madonna University
Any of Madonna’s seven online undergraduate programs or eight online graduate programs can be earned 100% online. Undergraduate programs include criminal justice, RN to BSN, hospitality and tourism management, family and consumer science, and gerontology. Graduate students can choose from master’s degrees in higher education administration, accountancy, criminal justice leadership and intelligence, educational leadership, nursing leadership, and humane studies.
- Tuition: $20,700
#8. Southwestern Adventist University
Southwestern Adventist University offers nine undergraduate degrees–two at the associate level and seven at the bachelor’s level. High school students can enroll in the dual credit program and take up to seven offered courses online. The bachelor’s degrees offered are business, elementary education, general studies, history, psychology, religion, and theology.
- Tuition: $20,732
#9. Liberty University
Liberty University has developed an extensive online learning program. Students can earn associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees online and can apply with no fee. There are also numerous certificate and post-graduate programs. Liberty also not only offers a dual credit program, but has an entire online high school program called the Liberty University Online Academy which offers qualified students the chance to earn both college and high school credit simultaneously over the last two years of their high school. Liberty offers 65 undergraduate degrees and 32 bachelor’s degrees, making it one of the most robust online colleges in our ranking.
- Tuition: $21,310
#10. William Woods University
William Woods University offers six bachelor’s degrees that can be earned fully online, and six that students can transfer into once they have around 60 credits already complete. The university also offers seven online graduate degrees. Among the undergraduate programs offered are some unique choices like deaf services, workforce development, interpretation studies ASL-English degree, and RN to BSN completion degree.
- Tuition: $23,260
#11. Lindsey Wilson College
Lindsey Wilson College offers undergraduate degrees in business administration, criminal justice, human services and counseling, and RN to BSN. Graduate programs include business administration, counseling and human development, and teacher as leader. Military Friendly has designated Lindsey Wilson College a military friendly college. All of the online programs are offered 100% online and there is no application fee.
- Tuition: $24,246
#12. Limestone College
Limestone College offers bachelor’s in accounting, finance, management, marketing, computer and information system security, information technology, programming, healthcare administration, human resource management, criminal justice, and psychology. The school also offers an MBA program online with concentrations in management and leadership, and healthcare administration.
- Tuition: $25,025
#13. Siena Heights University
The online programs offered by Siena Heights University have been recognized by U.S. News as the 23rd best online bachelor’s degrees in the United States. Siena Heights has 14 years of experience offering online courses and degrees, has been nationally ranked for online programs five years in a row, is 5th in the nation for graduation rate, and has a 98% student satisfaction rate.
- Tuition: $25,932
#14. Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s adult and graduate studies department offers online degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels with no application fee. The bachelor’s programs include business administration, ministry and leadership, organizational management, and psychology. Graduate programs include education, business administration, nursing, and a master of divinity degree offered by Wesley Biblical Seminary.
- Tuition: $26,090
#15. Franciscan University of Steubenville
The only undergraduate programs offered 100% online by Franciscan University of Steubenville are an associate of philosophy degree and an associate in theology. However, there are fully online graduate programs offered in catechetics and evangelization, theology and Christian ministry, business administration, and education. Franciscan University of Steubenville is a Roman Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition of education.
- Tuition: $26,430
#16. Graceland University
Graceland University offers online degrees at the bachelor, master’s, and doctoral level. The bachelor’s level programs include business administration, criminal justice, organizational leadership, and RN to BSN. Master’s degrees include education master’s in differentiated instruction, literacy instruction, special education, and instructional leadership. There are also master’s degrees offered in nursing and religion.
- Tuition: $28,110
#17. Coker College
Coker College offers 100% online bachelor’s degrees in business management and criminology. There is also a selection of 100% online graduate degrees that includes programs in management and leadership, curriculum and instructional technology, literacy studies, criminal and social justice policy, and college athletic administration.
- Tuition: $28,684
#18. Baker University
Baker University offers both individual courses and entire degree programs online, and there is no application fee. Bachelor’s degrees that can be earned entirely online include business administration programs in business leadership, management, and strategic business communication. There are also a bachelor’s in criminal justice and an associate’s in business offered. Baker also offers master’s degrees in organizational leadership, education, business administration, and sports management.
- Tuition: $28,960
#19. Northwood University
The online bachelor’s degrees offered by Northwood are designed as completion programs. Programs available include accounting, aftermarket management, automotive marketing and management, franchising management, management information systems marketing, finance, healthcare management, and entrepreneurship.
- Tuition: $29,300
#20. McKendree College
McKendree College offers online degrees at the associate’s through doctoral level with no application fee. Bachelor’s degrees include sociology/criminal justice, business administration, computer information systems, and bachelor of science in nursing (RN to BSN). Students can earn online master’s degrees in criminal justice, education, business administration, and nursing, and there is even a dual master of science in nursing and master of business administration degree.
- Tuition: $29,640
What Exactly Does an Online Bachelor’s Degree Get Me?
It might sound cliché, but a bachelor’s degree gets you employed. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2016 only 69% of people with just a high school diploma worked full time, year round. Compare this to 79% of people with a bachelor’s degree. Young adults with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $50,000 per year, 57% higher than the average of $31,800 earned by those with a high school diploma. So bachelor’s degrees help with both reaching your potential of working full time year round, and increasing the rate you are paid for that work. Now, not all majors are created equal. Some earn more on average than others. We’ll look at that next.
What Majors Should I Consider?
Well, it’s important to do something that interests you. If you don’t want to be an engineer, then I can’t recommend you major in that even though they make incredibly good money on a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s likely your interests do align with some of the best options on the market. Most of the top ten majors are available from one or more of the schools in this ranking. So I am going to provide you with the financial breakdown on the median earnings for professions related to each of the top ten college majors as ranked by The Princeton Review (I will also mention whether or not it requires a master’s degree to reach the top earnings potential in that field).
- Computer Science–Software Developers: $103,000, Computer Programmers: $82,000. Bachelor’s Degree
- Communications–Public Relations Specialists: $59,300, Technical Writers: $70,930. Bachelor’s Degree
- Political Science/Government–Political Scientist: $115,110, Urban and Regional Planner: $71,490. Master’s Degree
- Business Administration–Managers (most fields): $80,000-$130,000. Bachelor’s
- Economics–Financial Analyst: $84,300, Financial Manager: $125,080. Bachelor’s
- English Language and Literature–Postsecondary Teacher: $76,000. Master’s or Doctorate
- Psychology–Psychologist: $77,030.
- Nursing–Registered Nurse: $70,000. Bachelor’s
- Chemical Engineering–Chemical Engineer: $102,160. Bachelor’s
- Biology–Microbiologist: $69,960. Bachelor’s
Paying for your Online Bachelor’s Degree with No Application Fee
For most degrees, it makes sense to spend your first two years earning your general education credits at a community college. Earning your associate’s degree can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. Community college tuition can be covered, in many cases, by just one or two federal grants. Good grades in community college will practically guarantee you excellent financial aid and allow you to transfer into just about all the best state universities. So if you’re looking to get your college education for a great price, community college is a great place to start. Many community colleges offer online programs, so chances are you will be able to attend community college without ever having to set foot in a classroom.
For financial aid, you should always start with FAFSA. Federal education grants are essentially free money, and federally subsidized student loans have low interest and provide you with tons of flexibility when paying them back. After that, private grants and scholarships should be where you look. Finally, if all else fails and it’s your only option, you can apply for private student loans. Private loans tend to be the worst deal, and the most expensive form of funding. So make sure you exhaust other sources first.
Is Online Learning Right for You?
Online learning provides students with unparalleled flexibility. Most students who earn their degrees online right now are older than the traditional college age and require a higher level of flexibility in order to fit a degree into their already busy life. However, with more and more degrees being offered online, and the first generation to grow up with the internet hitting college age, the online option is going mainstream. How do you know if it’s the right fit? That’s not an easy question to answer, and you should ask yourself several questions before enrolling. Are you the kind of person who can learn by watching videos? Would you be comfortable taking tests online? Can you handle not having any face-to-face interaction with your professors and fellow students? Are you highly self-motivated and disciplined? While online education is a great option, it’s not ideal for all students. If you need the flexibility and are comfortable with the format and technology, online education offers unprecedented levels of flexibility.
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