The most affordable online colleges in Florida start a student on the journey toward a more fruitful and eventful life. Though 93% of the colleges and universities in Florida offer some form of online classes, the colleges that serve beginning students have the most widespread online presence.
Many of the colleges that existed in Florida before 1985 offered distance-learning as a means to engage students through the mail service. With the advent of the Internet, online opportunities came to students to accelerate the distance learning experience. The first college to offer online courses in Florida was the University of Phoenix, but the degrees were not accredited. The early lack of accreditation for degrees gave the online process a bad name. The first university to offer accredited courses was Jones International University. Using the formats developed by these two for-profit universities, the state colleges in Florida began producing their version of online learning.
The initial efforts started in the community colleges that gradually perfected an online system that served a vast student body—much more extensive than was possible when students were forced to attend classes in a brick-and-mortar environment. As the instructors who initiated the process in Florida moved into the four-year universities, they took their expertise in online education with them. The distinct advantages for a student with the drive and ability to excel in brick-and-mortar classes to take distance-learning courses led to a burgeoning mass of applicants to colleges at every level of the Florida education system. Some community colleges moved into the virtual environment and expanded their repertoire of degrees to include bachelor degrees along with their certification and associate degree platforms. The opportunities for students to enhance their practical credentials have encouraged a buildup in both student bodies and faculties. Florida ranks as one of the premier state in the nation in offering educational opportunities to its citizens.
When considering the most affordable online colleges in Florida, there are many factors that must be considered. The financial cost is only one of the many considerations when thinking about pursuing an online degree. The school’s reputation, the faculty’s commitment, and the resources the school commits to the advancement of its graduates in their respective careers are only some of the parameters considered as crucial to affordability. These ten universities in Florida that are the most affordable online colleges are selected from 68 schools found at the National Center for Education Statistics, and are ranked from the highest to lowest tuition. In addition to low tuition, the following factors make these schools stand out:
• Cost per term/semester: The cost per credit hour that the student must either pay out-of-pocket or through financing is a crippling factor that limits would be students who wish to further their education. The lower the cost, then the more opportunity students have to advance in their respective fields.
• Accreditation: The accreditation of school programs by designated authorities is an essential ingredient when considering which college or university to attend. Accreditation means that the courses and degrees that the school of choice is offering are recognized as meeting or exceeding the minimum standards which an accrediting organization has established. Classes, courses, and degree structures are reviewed periodically by the accrediting organization to ensure that students are receiving the standard of education the organization demands. Every school and degree on this list is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization.
• Continuity of opportunity: In the past, there have been schools across the country that changed the parameters that a student must satisfy when they approach the completion of their degree. Such manipulation of degree factors is inappropriate, and every school on this list adheres to the ethical standards that demand continuity in their degree programs.
• Allowance for part-time education: In recognition that most online students are working, the addition of a school to this list requires that the school allows a student to seek part-time education.
• Quality of faculty: The faculty of a school says much about its ability to pass on information to its students. Faculty members of schools on this list adhere to the premise of excellence in education.
• Financial help: There are several levels of financial assistance available for the student. Pell Grants from the federal government and student aid from the states should always be the priority of each school. Every school should make available information on scholarships and need-based assistance to every student who applies for admittance. Federal Student Loans should be the last resort for students who need help.
• Job search: After graduation, the responsibility of the school does not end. The purpose of gaining an education is to either find employment in the field of study or to gain advancement. A school that drops the student after graduation is not considered “affordable” by the standards of this list. Every school on this list counsels students on how to find employment and follows up by coordinating job search systems and sending students to interviews.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Florida Colleges
10. Daytona State College
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona State College offers several layers of online classes. Students looking for college credit should make sure they are not enrolling in Daytona State’s Center for Business, and Industry courses as these are developed to enhance skills used in the business industry and are not applicable toward a college degree. Daytona State does offer accredited college courses either entirely online or as a hybrid course. Certification courses that are offered entirely online are in the fields of accounting, office management and support, web development and software, construction, cybersecurity, and project management. Associates degrees offered online include an Associate’s of Arts degree and a Criminal Justice Technology Bridge. The school also offers bachelor degrees in supervision, engineering technologies, IT technologies, and nursing. Hybrid courses include associate degree work in various segments of accounting, business, management, and information technology. Part-time online classes that work toward certifications are also included in the college level curriculum at Daytona State College. The college is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and bachelor degrees.
9. Florida Gateway College
Lake City, Florida
Florida Gateway College commits to handling every factor in the list of considerations that make it an affordable online Florida college. The cost per term to take online courses is less than that in other states at comparable institutions, and the faculty is top-notch. Along with the classes, Florida Gateway College offers access to all learning services to online students as well as those attending classrooms including free tutoring and library access. Professional advisors lead students along the various pathways toward success that the college provides, and an incredible job search center helps students to identify employment opportunities after graduation. The college offers college credit certificates in Accounting Technology, Business Management, Horticulture, Child Care Center management, Computer Office Specialist with Programming, Infant and Toddlers Specialization, Preschool Specialization, and Water Quality Technician. At the associates level, the school provides an online pathway toward its Associate of Arts degree and an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration, Early Childhood Development, or Environmental Science Technology. Undergraduate degrees that are available entirely online include a Bachelor of Applied Science in Water Resources Management, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. Florida Gateway College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award bachelor and associate degrees.
8. State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota
State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota provides affordable online courses that lead to many pathways toward success. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate level degrees. The college offers certifications in accounting, business, criminal justice, early childhood development, entrepreneurship, homeland security, information technology, computer networking, and marketing. An Associate of Arts degree is available for those students who wish to transfer the entirety of their college credits to another four-year institution. Associate of Science degrees are offered entirely online for those pursuing a career in the fields of accounting, business, entrepreneurship, marketing computer information technology, and criminal justice as well as an Associate of Arts specialized transfer program in Business Administration & Management. The school recently upgraded their online application to include four-year undergraduate degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science in RN-BSN Nursing. A Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Services Administration and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and Public Safety are taught entirely online as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science that focuses on specialized areas of management and supervision.
7. Broward College
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Broward College’s accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges which allows the school to award associate and bachelorette degrees. The school utilizes a highly qualified faculty to instruct its online courses in education, business, industry and manufacturing, health science, arts, humanities, public safety, sociology, mathematics, science, and technology. These fields of study generate online programs at the associate and bachelor degree levels that create an incredible amount of specialized degrees in each area. To help the intrepid online scholar, the school offers a generous support system including free tutoring services, a writing center, a math center, online proctoring, an extensive online library and library staff to help students find crucial materials, as well as a career development center that helps to build resumes, find jobs, and advise students how to network their new abilities to achieve advancement at work. Broward College is exclusively online with no brick-and-mortar classrooms. As such, the college uses a specialized format that encourages complete immersion into the programs and intercommunication between students. Students have the opportunity to choose the length of their plan to allow for work, family, and community involvement for a full-life experience while attending online courses.
6. Saint Johns River State College
With an accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees, the Saint Johns River State College is free to provide online courses for distance-learning students. Since 1953 the college has been churning out exceptional graduates who go on to distinguish themselves in the workforce and academia. The online degrees the college offers are presented entirely on the Internet with firewalls in place to guard the safety and sanctity of the students. The Associate of Arts degree is fully transferable to other four-year institutions as the fulfillment of lower-division requirements. Some Associate of Arts degrees may require a couple of brick-and-mortar classes depending on the major the student is pursuing. Associate of Science degrees are available online in accounting, business administration, computer technology and analysis, criminal justice, health services, and health information technology. The college only offers two bachelor level degrees which make the Associate of Arts degree an essential component toward a student’s continuing education in the field of their choice if it is not available a Saint Johns. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing that are taught entirely online.
5. Indian River State College
Fort Pierce, Florida
Indian River State College did not begin its online program, which they have housed on what they term their “Virtual Campus,” until 2013. Coming late to online education, the school did not waste any time. The college already offers 15 degrees that are entirely web-based and hundreds of online courses for on-campus students who wish to take advantage of Internet presentations. Indian River State College is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and can award associate and baccalaureate degrees that are presented online. The school offers an Associate of Arts degree that is transferable to any other educational institution in the state. The college also presents degree courses that satisfy the requirements for an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration, an Associate of Science in Computer Information technology, an Associate in Science in Criminal Justice Technology, and an Associate of Science in Health Information technology. The list of Bachelor degrees offered online include Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education with Reading and EOSL Endorsements, Exceptional Student Education with Reading and EOSL Endorsements, Healthcare Management, Information Technology Management & Cybersecurity, Middle Grades Mathematics, Nursing, Organizational Management, and Public Administration. The school utilizes a diverse and talented faculty that is knowledgeable and experienced in online presentation, helping to make Indian River State College one of the most affordable online colleges in Florida.
4. St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg, Florida
Since its inception in 1928, the St. Petersburg College has experimented with distance-learning. The college used the U.S. mail service to disperse education materials early in the thirties and was one of the first to experiment with free television education. When the Internet came along, St. Petersburg College quickly saw the possibilities and acted independently to extend its presence into the virtual education system. Today, St. Petersburg College offers an award-winning set of options to students who seek education opportunities online. Online Colleges ranked St. Petersburg as number one amongst its 112 peer organizations in Florida for the award of Best Online College. Additionally, the U.S. Center for Education Statistics ranks St. Petersburg College #38 nationally in the number of students taking college courses exclusively online. The college offers 52 online programs that culminate in certifications, associate or bachelor degrees. The degrees cover an array of fields including the arts and humanities, business, communication, design, construction, engineering, manufacturing, health science, veterinary mathematics, technology, engineering, sociology, and public planning, public policy, and public safety. Through the recognized excellence of its online degree programs, St. Petersburg College has garnered an extensive accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award bachelor degrees in science and applied science; associate degrees in arts, science, and applied science; as well as certificates and applied technology diplomas.
3. College of Central Florida
As one of the most affordable online colleges in Florida, the College of Central Florida offers an impressive array of educational opportunities and degrees. The school is accredited through the auspices of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to provide programs culminating in associate and baccalaureate degrees. The college offers a fully transferable Associate of Arts degree as well as Associate of Science degrees in agribusiness, business, criminal justice, digital media, education, engineering, equine studies, health sciences, information technology, and logistics. Once a student receives an associates degree, they are legible to pursue added certifications at Central Florida College to excel in specific areas that may elevate their presence in the work environment. Some specialized certifications offered by Central Florida College include Basic Healthcare Management, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and Network security. The college offers degrees in various fields such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development, and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Development. The Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Development includes options to specialize in accounting, agribusiness management, equine studies, healthcare management, management of information systems, logistics and supply chain management, or public safety administration.
2. Eastern Florida State College
Eastern Florida State College offers one of the most affordable online degree programs in Florida. The school quickly jumped into the online education system to offer students an opportunity to fulfill their dreams of quality education while working to keep themselves afloat. Recognizing the incredible drive that these students display, the college offers further assistance than financial aid, counseling, professional education advisors, and job-search advice. The school also features an excellent tutoring system in every field in which it offers courses and an extensive online library that is immediately available to every online student. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associates and baccalaureate degrees as well as certifications of completion to qualified graduates. The college features an Associate of Arts degree that is fully transferable to any state university, an Associate of Science in Business Administration, an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology, an Associate of Science in Office Administration, an Associate of Science in Social and Human Services: Aging Services Track, and an Associate of Science in Social and Human Services: Domestic Violence track. The school also offers entirely online undergraduate degrees such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management with specializations in accounting, banking and finance, general business, healthcare management, human resources, public safety management, sales and marketing, and sports management. Another Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems Technology is available online as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Health Sciences with specializations in advanced allied health and medical imaging.
1. Tallahassee Community College
Cost per credit hour, Tallahassee Community College comes in as the most affordable of all online colleges in Florida. The online programs at Tallahassee Community College win awards yearly for the sheer number of students participating and graduating in their degree programs as well as for the excellence of instruction provided in a well-run online presence. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and associate degrees to graduating students. The online programs at Tallahassee Community College feature an excellent Associate of Arts degree that is transferable to any school in the Florida state-run system and is considered so complete that many colleges and universities outside Florida also accept the degree as completion of lower-division requirements. The school also offer an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology to prepare students for employment in law enforcement or to advance in their established careers within the field. Another two associate degrees offered by Tallahassee Community College is an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education, and an Associate of Science Paralegal and Legal Studies. The college offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree as an online opportunity for RNs to advance while working.
In the world of education, Florida is one of the high states. As can be seen by this list, the schools in the state recognize the rewards of offering a starting point for those seeking an education. In the overall scheme of things, it appears appropriate that the most affordable online colleges in Florida should be those who offer the first step on the ladder of success to students who are beginning their educational journey.