The Affordable Colleges Source: Online, Public, Private, Best ROI

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This guide to affordable online and brick & mortar colleges and universities, with a section on those schools with the best return on investment (ROI), is the source for information on affordable colleges. Students looking for the best bang for their college buck need look no further.

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What makes a college affordable?

Going to college can be a costly proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. For every expensive private learning institution, there is a cost-effective public option. For every exclusive regional campus, an online college offers the identical curriculum. For every pricey liberal arts degree, a more direct path exists to professional accreditation. In short, college can be affordable. You just need to know how to define, seek, and identify affordability.

Affordability isn’t mere cost. A low price tag doesn’t qualify as affordable if you’re buying something mediocre. This most certainly applies to your college degree. In measuring affordability, we look beyond price tag to measure a number of factors.

Affordability Considerations

Fortunately for you, we have taken the time to ask these questions and we have factored other tangible cost determinants into our affordability rankings, with the ultimate goal of accounting for both Net Price and Value when it comes to paying for college. Using the average yearly net price listed for each institution in NCES CollegeNavigator (which factors in actual tuition paid after certain types of financial aid, fees, room and board), we also incorporate questions of value such as ROI, online accessibility and degree options to provide you with a uniquely encompassing set of affordability rankings. See the Ranking Factors and Methodologies sections on each page for further details as to how rated and ranked each school.

College & Degree Affordability Rankings

The Most Affordable Four-Year College in Each StateThe Most Affordable Four-Year College in Each State. Ever wondered what and where the most affordable college in your state is? This college ranking list focuses on non-profit colleges, whether public or private.

Find the most affordable college in your state:

 

The 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Associate DegreesThe 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Associate Degrees. While community colleges may already have a reputation for affordability, these online associate degree programs excel in an already budget-friendly space, offering students a lot of options for their education.

The 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Bachelor DegreesThe 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees. A bachelor’ degree remains the cost of entry in many fields. But why spend more than you must? These bachelor-level programs offer the very best options for cost-conscious students.

The 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Business StudiesThe 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Studies. Business has been the most popular major at the undergraduate level for over a decade. It’s just good business to get that online degree affordably.

The 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Communications and Public RelationsThe 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Communications and Public Relations. Professionals with communications and public relations skills remain desirable across all businesses. Here’s how to pay less to grow that skill.

The 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice StudiesThe 25 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Justice Studies. Paying too much for a degree is a crime. This article ranks colleges for affordability of online bachelor’s degrees that focus on law enforcement and corrections.

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What makes a college a top return on investment?

Choosing a college is a time-consuming and arguably tiresome task. Of course, the payoff can mean a successful life and career, so the college search effort is worthwhile in the long run

Yet with over 2,000 institutions in the U.S. that grant bachelor’s degrees, having some filters reduces the amount of time spent researching schools. Each student has their own priorities, and we try to cover as many of them here as we can.

ROI Factors

These lists of 125 online, public, and private colleges look at "best return" by considering a large set of institutional factors, summarized in part below, which are supplemented by Payscale.com’s bachelor’s salary report for early-career and mid-career average salary data by college. See the Ranking Factors and Methodologies sections on each linked page for further details as to how we rated and ranked each school.

College Return on Investment Rankings

Online Colleges with the Best Return on Investment25 Online Colleges with the Best Return on Investment. In convenience and costs, online colleges are already an excellent value. These represent the cream, rising to the top of a solid category of colleges and universities.

50 Public Colleges with the Best Return on Investment. For many in-state students, nothing beats an education from a public college or university. These make a great value even better.

50 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment. When you think private college, high costs comes to mind first. These, however, are an excellent deal for the education received.

 

Free College?

The Best Tuition-Free Colleges & Universities The Best Colleges Providing Free Tuition. How affordable is free? Whether through grants, work-study, or special programs, these colleges and universities manage to reduce tuition to zero.

 

Student Loans

Much has been said about rising student debt and the cost of college loans. For further pros and cons of student loans, plus sources for loans and loan refinancing, we offer these insights:

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