Some students choose online college to save on tuition, books and residential fees. But often there are hidden costs that drive up the expense of a distance education. Truth be told, there are buried costs in both online and traditional institutions.
Higher Education Snapshot
Students attending traditional four-year institutions (1)
Students taking at least one online course annually (2)
Percentage of college students enrolled only in online courses (1)
Hidden Costs: Traditional (7)
Whether you use public transportation or you drive, making it to class is going to cost you.
Hidden in tuition for traditional universities are fees for things like an on-campus gym, the campus swimming pool and computer labs. You’re charged whether you use them or not.
Average tuition with facility fees will be around $7,000 per year at a state school, and around $26,000 per year for a private institution. (3)
Whether you live on campus or not, you’re probably going to be there long enough to need a snack. The little shops and restaurants in college student centers can be expensive, and snack prices add up over months.
The average amount per semester for a student who eats most meals on campus is $500 – $1,000.(4)
Since you can’t stay home and attend class in your pajamas, you’ll need clothes. In some cases, you’ll want a more professional wardrobe to impress possible business contacts at school.
Hidden Costs: Online (8,9)
Cost per credit hour
Sometimes the more credit hours you take, the more you save. So going part-time to an online institution will cost more in the long run.
To be able to attend all classes and participate, it is likely you will need a new computer, new software and maybe gadgets like a headset, tablet or printer.
The average college student owns 7 tech devices. (5)
Though you won’t be charged for things like facility fees, online institutions still hide costs like “technology fees” and “assessment fees” in tuition.
A study done by The Dallas Morning News found that tuition for online courses can actually be 20% higher than their on-campus equivalent. (6)
Even though you’ve signed up for an online degree, some classes like labs and prerequisites still require you to make it to campus.