Are online universities cheaper than brick and mortar schools?

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Our counselors answered:

Are online universities cheaper than brick and mortar schools?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Are online universities cheaper than brick and mortar schools?

Far cheaper compared to living on campus, but for commuting students at community colleges, some online courses could cost less. it all depends on what school & where it's located.

Lin Johnson III

Are online universities cheaper than brick and mortar schools?

The sticker price of online universities is lower than that of most brick and mortar schools. However, we would argue that the cost to you tends to be actually higher and the return on investment (ROI) is typically much lower. Let's concentrate on the higher cost to you. Online universities have less access to private financial resources. By the very nature of being a private company, online colleges pass most of the costs onto you to pay. Conversely, most brick and mortar schools have access to a strong alumni base, which provide donations to supplement the financial cost through scholarships and grants. Consequently, the sticker price might be lower, but you might end up paying more because less financial aid is available from online universities. Second, the ROI for online universities is much lower than that of most brick and mortar colleges. There are a lot of reasons that contribute to it such as limited job recruitment, a stigma of low educational quality, and weak and fragmented alumni network. Typically, most online students are not viewed as competitive candidates. Hence, the ROI is lower because most online graduates tend to receive lower salaries and less job prospects than most college graduates.