Considering Online Education? Be Careful Not to Pay Too Much

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Taking classes on the Web is becoming increasingly popular - it can save time, provide flexibility, eliminate a commute and allow students to pursue subjects that aren't offered at local campuses. However, a recently released study by the WCET and Campus Computing Project suggests that many students are paying more for Internet education than they would for the equivalent coursework on campus.
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WCET Enrollment Trends

Source here.

Enrollment Is Up

On October 22, the WCET and Campus Computing Project released their 2009 Survey of Online Education. The report shows steady gains in enrollment. An impressive 94% of the schools surveyed reported increases in enrollment in their Web programs between 2006 and 2009. Furthermore, the climb doesn't seem to have been affected by the economic downturn. The numbers stayed strong over the past year, with 95% of schools reporting higher enrollment in fall 2009 than fall 2008. Schools are also optimistic about the future. A full 98% of respondents expect to continue to see gains at least through 2011.

The survey suggests that online education has finally 'arrived.' Once met with significant skepticism about quality and legitimacy, taking courses on the Internet is becoming a perfectly acceptable alternative to traditional campuses classes. The increase in popularity may be due to the convenience of the online format, and the fact that Web courses are much more accessible for working professionals. People are also becoming more accustomed to living their lives online, and learning is just another activity made easier by technology.

Tuition is higher for online students

Costs Are Up Too

However, the Survey of Online Education also had some troubling news: Many students pay more tuition for online courses than they would for similar courses on campus. Almost half of the surveyed schools reported that tuition is higher for online students. Some students face a 10% or higher tuition hike just for taking classes on the Web. Almost one fifth of the colleges also reported charging additional registration fees for online classes, averaging around $230.

The survey offers various possible explanations for the imbalance. Because many of these programs are new and evolving - almost half of the respondents reported a major reorganization of program management in the last two years - production costs may be higher online than in established campus courses. Universities may also be adding out of state charges for long distance students. Finally, many state governments offer colleges lower reimbursement rates for online students, forcing the schools to increase tuition to make up the difference.

Online Learning

The survey has confirmed rising suspicions around the country about the costs of online education. In July, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that online students at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee were paying as much as $275 more in tuition per course than on campus students. And while there may be a good explanation for the difference, the numbers are perplexing among reports that schools don't even know if these programs are profitable. Although only 1.6% of schools surveyed reported a loss on online programs in the fiscal year ending June 2009, a full 45% simply checked 'unknown' in response to the question. Given the high degree of flux in program organization, it seems likely that the cost disparity will continue until the dust settles and schools can get a better handle on their online programs.

The news for online students isn't all bad, however. One third of the colleges reported matching tuition costs for online and on campus students, and one fifth actually reported lower costs for Internet courses. The most important lesson to be learned from this report seems to be to shop around when you're looking for online education options - another school may offer similar courses for a lot less.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Touro University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Psychology in Human & Organizational Psychology
      • Doctor of Business Administration
      • Doctor of Management
      • Doctorate of Physician Assistant
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Psychology
      • Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution
      • Master of Arts in Industrial & Organizational Psychology
      • Master of Arts in Public Administration
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
    Bachelor's
      • BA in Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
      • BA in Social Work
    Associate's
      • Associate Degree of Arts in General Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Business Administration
      • B.A. in Psychology
      • B.S. in Legal Studies
      • B.S. in Finance
      • B.S. in Marketing
      • B.S. in Accounting
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
      • A.S. in Legal Studies
      • A.S. in Management
      • A.S. in Accounting
      • A.S. in Marketing
    Certificate
      • Certificate: Accounting (Post-Baccalaureate)
      • Certificate: Forensic Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Columbia Southern University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Finance
      • MBA - General
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • MBA - Human Resource Management
      • MBA - Marketing
      • MBA - Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Psychology
      • BS - Criminal Justice / Forensics
      • BS - Business Administration
      • BS - Human Resource Management
      • BSBA - Hospitality and Tourism
      • BS - Information Systems and CyberSecurity
    Associate's
      • AS - Health Information Science Med. Coding Emph
      • AS - Occupational Safety and Health
      • AS - Emergency Medical Services
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
      • Master of Science -DNP Path Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Communication
      • BS in Criminal Justice - Socially Responsible Leadership
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
      • BS in Finance
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development
      • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
      • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • MSNAGPC - Master of Science in Nursing with a Concentration in Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
      • Bachelor: Legal Studies
      • Bachelor: Homeland Security and Public Safety
      • B.S. - Business Management: Entrepreneurial Studies Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • BSHS - Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Legal Studies
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • ASGSN - Associate of Science in General Studies - Pre-Nursing
    Certificate
      • DGS - Diploma in General Studies
      • PMCAF- Post Master's Certificate in Accounting and Finance
      • PMCHCM- Post Master's Certificate in Healthcare Management
      • PMCHR- Post Master's Certificate in Human Resources
      • PMCN - Post Masters Certificate Family Nurse Practitioner
      • PMCPM- Post Master's Certificate in Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
    Master's
      • MS: Criminal Justice
      • MS: Criminal Justice - Critical Incident Management
      • MS: Criminal Justice - Legal Studies
      • MA: Creative Writing - Fiction
      • MA: Creative Writing - Non-Fiction
      • MAcc: Accounting
    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Liberal Studies
      • BA: Psychology
      • BA: Psychology - General
      • BS: Computer Science
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
      • AA: Liberal Arts
      • AA: Business Administration
      • AA: Information Technology
      • AA: Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice
      • DCJ - Policing
      • EdD - Learning Analytics in K-12 Education
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science
    Master's
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • M.Ed. - General Education
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • Master of Legal Studies
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership
      • Education Specialist - Special Education
      • Education Specialist - International Education
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice in Visionary Leadership
    Master's
      • Criminal Justice, M.S.
      • Business Administration, MBA - Advanced Accounting
      • Business Administration, MBA - Health Care Administration
      • Business Administration, MBA - Leadership
      • Business Administration, MBA - Project Management
      • Curriculum and Instruction, M.A. - Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
    Bachelor's
      • Applied Psychology, B.S. - Biblical Studies
      • Applied Psychology, B.S. - Criminal Justice
      • Computer Science, B.S.
      • B.S. Accountancy
    Associate's
      • Criminal Justice, A.S.
      • Psychology, A.S.
      • Communication Studies, A.A.
      • Computer Science, A.S.
      • Business Administration, A.S.
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. The Chicago School

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology
      • Ph.D. Business Psychology, Consulting Track
      • Ph.D. Business Psychology, I/O Track
      • Ph.D. International Psychology
      • Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, Credential Track
    Master's
      • M.A. Psychology
      • Dual Enrollment: Master of Health Service Administration and Master of Public Health
      • M.A. Behavioral Economics
      • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
      • M.A. Forensic Psychology
      • M.A. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: ARP Track
    Certificate
      • Suicide and Cyberbullying Prevention Certificate
      • Certificate in Behavioral Economics
      • Certificate in Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saybrook University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. Applied Psychophysiology
      • Ph.D. Psychology
      • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
      • Ph.D. Integrative and Functional Nutrition
      • Ph.D. Organizational Systems
      • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision.
    Master's
      • M.A. Psychology
      • M.S. in Psychophysiology
      • M.S. Integrative and Functional Nutrition
      • M.A. in Counseling
      • M.A. Integrative Wellness Coaching
      • M.S. Mind-Body Medicine
    Certificate
      • Non Degree Certificate - Clinical Psychology
      • Non Degree Certificate - Organizational Leadership & Transformation
      • Non Degree Certificate - Mind-Body Medicine

Featured Schools

Touro University

  • Doctor of Psychology in Human & Organizational Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Psychology
  • BA in Psychology
  • Associate Degree of Arts in General Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Post University

  • B.S. in Business Administration
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Certificate: Accounting (Post-Baccalaureate)

What is your high school graduation status?

Columbia Southern University

  • MBA - Finance
  • BS - Psychology
  • AS - Health Information Science Med. Coding Emph

What is your highest level of education completed?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • BS in Communication
  • AASBA in Business
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • DGS - Diploma in General Studies

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
  • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice in Visionary Leadership
  • Criminal Justice, M.S.
  • Applied Psychology, B.S. - Biblical Studies
  • Criminal Justice, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?