10 Accredited Online Colleges with No Application Fee 2024

Author: Adam Birch / Reviewed By: Julie McCaulley / First covered: October 2018 / Updates: 5

If you are looking for affordable online colleges with no application fee and low tuition, you have come to the right place! This article ranks the top 10 colleges known for their affordable tuition and no application fee. These schools have simplified the application for online college. This has made it easy for students to choose the right program and enroll. These colleges and universities also have a team of admissions or enrollment advisors ready to help students. It’s their job to guide them through the admissions process and point them to any financial aid programs available. While application fees are one financial hurdle, you should be aware of our articles featuring some of the most affordable online colleges and more.

Even before the pandemic hit, online programs were becoming a popular choice. Both undergraduate programs and graduate programs were seeing increased enrollment. Even then, these options were ideal for students who wanted to get their degrees without leaving their day jobs. The past few years have seen a massive increase in college applications for online programs. Even full-time students and those seeking financial aid see the benefits of online schools. Stay-at-home orders combined with economic uncertainties added to life’s challenges. Yet, the option of online schools has helped students overcome those challenges to continue their education. With pandemic restrictions a thing of the past, the trend of online education continues its growth.

Featured Programs

However, students wanting to apply to online colleges should know how confusing this process can be. With so many options and expenses, it can be overwhelming. We’re here to help. The online schools we have listed understand how expensive applications can get. That’s why they have waived their fees and opened their admission up to everyone. These schools top the list for their academics, affordability, diversity, and inclusion. In essence, they’re the answer to colleges with no application fee! Please note that the following colleges with free applications are simply listed, not ranked. It can be confusing to tell whether or not an online college is a scam. All of the online colleges we feature are regionally accredited. There are no degree mills in our ranking. But maybe you want to look at some other online colleges as well. Well we have you covered with an article that details how to tell if online colleges are legit.

#10. Baker University

Kansas City, MO


Undergraduate Tuition: $32,320
Graduate Tuition: $11,466

Baker University was founded in 1858. It is renowned for its academic excellence in online learning. It is home to four schools. These include the following:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Professional and Graduate Studies
  • School of Education

Enrolled students engage in their education and connect with peers, faculty, and staff. Baker University has recently made changes to its admissions requirements for current students. There is no application fee requirement. Official transcripts may be needed to complete the online application form. All admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Baker promotes a community of belonging. Small class sizes and interaction with instructors and fellow students make it happen. Baker University is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Fast Facts

  • Zero Application Fees
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Small class sizes
  • Supportive faculty


  • A lack of diversity

#9. Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, AZ


Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800
Graduate Tuition: $10,655

Grand Canyon University is a private, for-profit university. It is ranked as the largest Christian university in the world. The school offers its academic programs to 20,000 attending students on campus and 70,000 online. The university is dedicated to helping students change their lives for the better. Students should note that for online degree programs, classes start every week. Plus, the application to GCU is free. The GCU admissions team reviews official transcripts within 24 hours. They then provide applicants with a graduation plan, including:

  • Start date options
  • Estimated costs
  • Estimated graduation date

GCU’s highly-rated online degree programs offer flexibility and quality education. They are designed to help students thrive in today’s complex business world. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the school. Financial help may be available to eligible students.

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Flexibility of online programming
  • Affordability


  • Internships and practicums can be a challenge to schedule
  • Some student resources are underfunded

#8. McKendree University

Lebanon, IL


Undergraduate Tuition: $33,430
Graduate Tuition: $9,450

McKendree University is an online college. It was founded as a private university in 1828 as the Lebanon Seminary. Today, the school enrolls approximately 2,300 undergraduates and nearly 700 graduate students. Students from 25 countries and 29 states call McKendree their alma mater. There is no fee for undergraduate degree applications. This includes students attending college for the first time. This also applies to those who have already attended a post-secondary institution. Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available for applicants, including international students. In addition to online degree programs, campus locations include:

  • Lebanon (Illinois)
  • Online
  • Center at Scott Air Force Base (Illinois)
  • Radcliff (Kentucky)

McKendree University is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Small class sizes
  • Accessible faculty


  • Some issues with financial aid accessibility have been reported
  • Some glitches with online program accessibility have been reported

#7. Norwich University

Northfield, VT 


Undergraduate Tuition: $45,340
Graduate Tuition: $20,280

Norwich University (The Military College of Vermont) is a private military academy. The school currently offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees on-campus and online. It is the oldest private and senior military college in the United States. There is no application fee to the online college. However, admissions for undergraduate degree and graduate degree programs are competitive. Norwich University is a rolling admissions school. It is also one of the top online colleges and universities in our ranking. Applications that come in past deadlines are only accepted based on available space. Applications are carefully reviewed and evaluated by the Office of Admissions. Recommendations are made according to the bachelor’s degrees students plan to pursue. 

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)


  • Great student networking opportunities
  • Involved with the local community


  • Heavy, intense academic workload
  • Some issues with student advising have been reported

#6. Chadron State College

Chadron, NE 


Undergraduate Tuition: $7,834
Graduate Tuition: $4,650

Chadron State College is one of three Nebraska State College System public colleges. CSC strives to provide quality education at an affordable price. It features no application fee and open enrollment, also called open admissions, meaning it accepts 100% of students who apply. Chadron State offers a variety of academic programs to fit one’s education goals. This includes including online graduate programs. Whether a student is starting on a bachelor’s or master’s degree or looking for transfer admissions, enrollment advisors are ready to help. It is free to apply to CSC. Students can complete and submit their applications with official transcripts fully online. Applications may be considered after the priority deadlines. Still, students are encouraged to apply to undergraduate degree programs as early as possible. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Chadron State.

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Small class sizes
  • Supportive faculty and staff


  • Limited online program offerings

#5. Lindsey Wilson College

Columbia, KY


Undergraduate Tuition: $26,228
Graduate Tuition: $9,635

Lindsey Wilson College is a private United Methodist college. It was founded in 1903 as Lindsey Wilson Training School. It now offers rolling admissions. This means prospective students with official transcripts can apply throughout the year. Degree programs are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Lindsey Wilson College does not have an application fee. Students who desire an online bachelor’s degree are encouraged to apply as early as possible. This will maximize scholarship opportunities and guarantee the best academic schedule possible. Financial aid with scholarships is only offered when students apply and are accepted.

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)


  • Solid academic programming
  • Focus on community


  • Lack of diversity
  • Resources are limited

#4. Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, OH 


Undergraduate Tuition: $30,080
Graduate Tuition: $12,960

The Franciscan University of Steubenville is a private Catholic university. Its mission is to set students on a path to intellectual, professional, and spiritual formation. The accredited online university offers 75 rigorous and demanding academic programs of study. This “faithfully Catholic university” offers associate, bachelor, and master degree programs (on-campus and online). The college admissions team helps applicants every step of the way. This includes answering their questions about admissions requirements and processes. It also involves helping them choose an undergraduate major or graduate program that suits them best. Students can complete the free application for admission online. This process only takes about 15 minutes. No essay or letters of recommendation are required to accept an online bachelor’s degree program. The university is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Fast Facts

  • Free Online Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Strong sense of community
  • A focus on student growth and development


  • A lack of support for free-thinking has been reported
  • Some issues with the administrative processes have been reported

#3. Rhodes College

Memphis, TN


Undergraduate Tuition: $52,310
Graduate Tuition: $52,000

Known for its online degree programs, Rhodes College is a private liberal arts college. It has been historically affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Today, the school is also one of our top online colleges. Students who want to apply for admission to Rhodes may do so any time after the end of his/her junior year in high school using the Common Application. Admission to Rhodes is competitive, but no application fee is required for first-year or transfer students. Like many online colleges and universities in this ranking, the school is a member of the Associated Colleges of the South. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has also accredited it. A member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the school endorses the principles in the Association’s Guide to Ethical Practice in College Admission.

Fast Facts

  • Free Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC


  • Faculty is supportive and accessible
  • Small class sizes


  • Intense academic programming can be stressful
  • Acceptance rate is lower than the national average

#2. Sewanee: The University of the South

Sewanee, TN  


Undergraduate Tuition: $51,146
Graduate Tuition: $18,000

Sewanee: The University of the South is a private Episcopal liberal arts college. It is also one of the top online colleges and universities in our ranking. The main campus is Gothic in design. Inside, it offers well-rounded academics and robust student life programs. It is owned by 28 southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Plus, its School of Theology is an official seminary of the church. Applying to Sewanee is simple, easy, and straightforward. There is no application fee for the online school. At Sewanee, admission counselors provide individual attention to each student during the admission process. The school meets the needs of all admitted first-year students who qualify for financial aid. And it has been test-optional for the past ten years. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools fully accredits Sewanee.

Fast Facts

  • Free Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges


  • Student resources available
  • Faculty is dedicated


  • Lack of diversity
  • Reputation as a party school

#1. Elmhurst University

Elmhurst, IL


Undergraduate Tuition: $40,232
Graduate Tuition: $33,000

Elmhurst University is a private liberal arts college online. It maintains a tradition of service-oriented learning and an affiliation with the United Church of Christ. Applying to Elmhurst University is easy, and there’s no application fee for the online school. Admissions advisors are ready to support students throughout their journey. First-year, transfer, or adult students can begin by completing the application form to the school’s online bachelor’s degree program. The same goes for graduate and ELSA applications. Once students begin their application, they can return to it anytime using the login credentials they receive via email.  Applicants applying or completing applications after Nov. 2 are considered for rolling admissions. Elmhurst University is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to offer online and on-campus degrees. This includes bachelor’s degree programs.

Fast Facts

  • Free Application
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


  • Close-knit community mindset
  • Supportive community
  • Intense academic programming can be stressful
  • Tuition costs are on the higher side

More About Affordable Online Colleges with No Application Fee

Online Colleges No Application Fee

What does no application fee mean?

A college application fee waiver lets students apply without paying an application fee. Traditionally, most college applications require a fee. While the exact amount varies from school to school, the fees range between $40 and $60. The more expensive schools have fees of around $80 to $90. Once the payment is made, schools review applications and make admissions decisions. 

The cost of a college education continues to increase, thus getting a lot of attention. College applications are expensive. So are tuition and other costs. They start adding up as soon as a student is accepted into a degree program.

There is the added cost of things like:

  • Standardized tests
  • College visits
  • Travel costs for those visits

Students spend around $50 for the SAT or ACT. It costs another $12 to have their standardized test scores sent to the colleges. The cost of college visits will vary by the distance of the school.

One way to reduce these costs is to apply for application fee waivers. The other is to research and find online schools that do not charge any application fee. Many colleges will waive the application fee if students apply online. Other schools with application fees will allow students to apply for a waiver. The process differs between schools. It often depends on a student’s financial situation and the available financial aid.

Who can apply?

Admissions eligibility depends on what you’re applying for. It differs between undergraduate and graduate programs and at what level. For example, students with a GED or a high school diploma can apply for online bachelor’s programs. Some students also opt for associate degrees after high school. They can choose to pursue a bachelor’s program afterward. Those who hold accredited bachelor’s degrees can apply for master’s degrees, and so on.

How many colleges can students apply to?

The number of colleges students should apply to depends on various factors. These include:

  • Financial ability
  • Type of decision status to which a student is applying

If students want to improve their chances, they can apply to colleges with no application fee. 

Students can also apply during the early decision process and get accepted. This way, they may only have to apply to one school for their online bachelor’s degree or other credentials. Students who apply to their preferred schools may want a backup. They should apply to at least three other schools. Those who obtain a fee waiver can afford to apply to more schools. If they do not get fee waivers, applying to 10 schools may cost them over $500 in application fees.

Is an online application different from a traditional application?

Online college applications are similar to traditional schools. There is not much difference between online colleges and traditional on-campus college admissions. The application process will be more detailed in some programs than others, though. Some colleges have rigorous admissions criteria, while others accept almost all applicants. This applies to programs whether they hold classes online or in person.

High school graduates will encounter some standard requirements when applying to any college. They will have to provide information on personal and program-related information. Students may be asked to submit official test scores from standardized tests like SAT or ACT. They may also have to provide from among the following:

  • An essay
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A transcript from high school
  • Their most recent GPA

Many colleges hold open admissions with no application fee for their online programs. It is not the same rigorous admissions process, so the field is open to a broader range of students. The application process varies widely by school and degree program. For example, there may be different applications for online bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Nontraditional students often pursue an online education. It is because a traditional college may conflict with their other responsibilities. There are many reasons why this could happen, including:

  • Their past academic performance has been lackluster
  • They had to forego school and go into the workforce
  • Unexpected circumstances forced them to drop out

Open admissions provide acceptance into an accredited online degree program. They accept students with a high school diploma or GED, regardless of past grades. Online courses give students more independence than traditional courses. They still need to put in much effort to do well, tackle, and prepare for challenging coursework. 


What documents are needed for the undergraduate applications? 

Online Colleges No Application Fee

The year leading up to your first semester of college is exciting and stressful. There is much to do when it comes to applications. Requirements for an application vary widely between schools. There are certain common things for prospective students to keep in mind. This is definitely true with an online bachelor’s degree program.

Application Form:

The application form for bachelor’s degrees can vary in length, depending on the school. Most schools accept online applications as well as those delivered forms via mail. Along with the application form, students must also send all requested documents. They may also use the online Common Application. More than 300 schools currently accept these applications. Using them means they don’t have to complete a separate application for each college. Some schools may also require a short supplemental application. However, students must remember that the application deadlines vary by school. Leave plenty of time to complete and submit the application before the deadline. As a rule, the more competitive the process, the earlier the deadline for that college. 

Test Scores:

Prospective students can list the schools they want to receive their scores. Students should plan for the school to receive their scores before the deadline. It takes time for the test to be processed and scores to be sent to the schools. Some universities accept both SAT and ACT scores, but others accept only one or the other.

Letters of Recommendation:

The number of letters of recommendation needed varies by school. Most students will need to submit a minimum of two letters. These are usually written by their high school guidance counselor or teachers. Students should put in their requests early. This leaves time for teachers or counselors to write a solid recommendation letter.


High school transcripts are an essential part of the application packet. Some colleges let students get the transcript in a sealed envelope and mail it to the colleges. At the same time, some will only accept transcripts sent directly to them from the high school. In the former case, students should ensure that the seal is not broken and that they do not open it. 

Personal Essay:

Students often consider the personal essay the most challenging part of the application. Most colleges ask students to prepare a personal essay or statement. The topic and length vary by school. Most ask for 300 to 500 words, although some universities may ask for more extended essays. Students should make sure that they prepare their essays ahead of time. They must be proofread by teachers or counselors to ensure a top-notch draft.

What documents are needed for the graduate applications? 

Online Colleges No Application Fee

Grad school application form:

A generic college application can be as short as two pages or more. Students should start the process early on to avoid errors and inaccuracies. Information required for graduate degree programs typically includes:

  • Academic records
  • A résumé
  • Personal details
  • Name of the chosen program
  • Test scores
  • Any transferrable college credit

Academic transcripts:

Applicants should include originals or certified copies of transcripts of all college courses. Some schools allow students to submit copies during the online application process. They may require the originals when they register.

References or supporting letters:

Choosing someone to write a reference can be a challenging process. The requirements of the individual program must be considered when making your choice. Most graduate schools require two to three letters of support or reference. Many schools require academic references, others only professional, but most accept both. These are extremely important, particularly for the more competitive graduate degree programs. 

Statement of purpose or personal statement: 

The personal statement is critical when applying for a graduate degree program. Often, students must submit an essay or statement of purpose giving reasons for studying the chosen graduate program. These must include:

  • Personal and professional experience relevant to the chosen program
  • Their expectations of the program
  • Future plans with the degree

Graduate school test scores:

Many graduate programs only process the application upon seeing the official test results. Others may decide based on the college application as a whole. Most graduate schools require one or more standardized, internationally recognized tests, such as:

  • GMAT
  • GRE
  • PTE

Some may make a conditional offer subject to certain conditions related to your IELTS or GRE score as part of the application process. 

What are the benefits of online degrees/ online colleges? 

Online Colleges No Application Fee

For distance learners, there are many advantages associated with online learning. Students taking online courses develop valuable professional competencies. They also get an opportunity to balance other responsibilities in life.

Flexible Schedule:

Online classes allow students to navigate their work and family obligations while studying. The 24/7 availability makes online classes ideal for many students. They can complete assignments at their own pace, in the evening or on weekends. To meet deadlines and other responsibilities, online students must be:

  • Focused
  • Organized
  • Disciplined

Studying at home provides a balance of comfort and convenience for busy professionals.

Affordable Tuition:

Most online programs are more affordable than on-campus programs. Costs can be myriad, and they can pile up when you consider all the items to keep in mind for school. These may include:

  • Gas
  • Textbooks and school supplies
  • Student services fees
  • Costs for parking on some campuses
  • Using public transportation
  • Childcare costs for students who are parents

Students can use e-textbooks instead of expensive hardcover textbooks, reducing costs considerably. All other class materials, including library resources, are available online. Students never have to leave home to complete coursework. A zero application fee policy will also reduce costs.

Enhanced Professional Skills:

Students must have the skills to interact with instructors and fellow students online. They have to use email, online forums, and chat services regularly. In addition, they often participate in classroom bulletin boards and blogs. These skills are also considered very marketable in the workplace. 

Virtual Networking: Networking is an essential skill to master for work. Online classes attract students from diverse backgrounds and regions. It allows students to connect with others they may not have otherwise met. This can result in fascinating class dialogues. Students get the opportunity to learn from each other. This can lead to lasting professional networking connections. Sometimes there are campus visits involved, depending on the school. Online students are encouraged to form study groups or get together in a common place. 


This concludes our ranking of how to apply for online colleges without the fee.