Is the Cost of Online College Worth It?

The world of education has seen some drastic transformations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One of the most notable changes is the widespread shift to online education. In April 2020, it was reported that there was a significant surge in the use of online learning software and other online education tools like language apps, virtual tutoring, and video conferencing tools.

Transitioning to being an entirely online student has been a tricky adjustment for many. Like anything else, there have been pros and cons to online learning. Some of the common challenges have been a lack of socialization with peers and a lack of preparedness among educators to teach entirely online. On the positive side, it means that students are getting to spend a lot more time with their families and they are reaping the benefits of self-paced, self-managed learning.

These varying pros and cons are likely being weighed by individuals who are currently deciding whether or not to pursue an online college degree. Since one of the biggest concerns when it comes to higher education is cost, these people are likely asking themselves: is the cost of college tuition worth it when all the classes are online? Will I still have a beneficial, fulfilling learning experience? The complexity of such questions makes them difficult to answer. However, with the help of this guide, hopeful students will ideally have the information they need to make an informed decision for their futures.

Online Education Is Typically More Affordable

When compared to traditional on-campus programs, online degrees are usually far cheaper to obtain. This can be attributed to a number of factors; for one, online students don’t use on-campus facilities, which lowers the amount of money the institution needs to spend on building and property maintenance and management. Similarly, if you enroll at a university or college that is entirely online, the institution does not need to pay support staff and personnel, which again saves money and lowers the tuition fees. Plus, students enrolled in online programs don’t need to commute to school, which saves them even more money.

Additionally, in certain cases, online institutions save money by hiring part-time and/or less experienced professors. Forbes reported in 2018 that the American online college Arizona State University (ASU) was able to save money – and therefore charge lower tuition fees for students – by hiring “more adjunct or part time faculty – who tend to be less costly to hire than tenure-track faculty – … to teach online courses.”

Consider Potential Future Earnings Boost

Pursuing any form of higher education – even if it’s entirely online – has the capacity to heighten your future earnings. Specifically, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with just a high school degree earn an average of roughly $746 per week, while college graduates earn approximately $1,248 per week, and employees with master’s degrees make nearly $1,500 per week. This means that, with online education, you can obtain a degree for a lower cost upfront while still making more money in the long run.

Personal and Professional Aspirations

A significant component of deciding whether or not to attend an online college is considering your personal and professional aspirations. In other words, if you have always dreamed of reaching higher ranks in your chosen professional industry, pursuing higher education is generally one of the best ways to do this. In getting a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a PhD, you’re not only gaining added certifications and expertise needed to reach executive positions, but you’re also expanding your network and therefore your professional opportunities. Additionally, education is an esteemed value for many; therefore, completing an online degree can closely align with these personal values and lead to a strong sense of personal fulfilment.

You Can Assess the Value of Certain Colleges 

Fortunately, there are online tools you can use to weigh the costs and benefits to various programs across various institutions. For example, you can consult websites like, which outline the accreditations of several colleges, as well as the fees each one charges and the programs offered.

Ultimately, deciding whether or not to pursue an online college degree is an important decision that will greatly affect your life. While the costs associated with online education are typically far lower than traditional on-campus education, it is still a costly investment to make. This is why it’s essential to inform yourself of your options as well as which colleges offer the best value – so you can ensure you make the best decision for yourself and your future.  

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