Cheap Online Colleges In Colorado

It is possible to find many types of information on the web, but it is also possible to find misinformation, making it difficult to find good sources.This article talks about cheap online colleges in colorado.

College Learners has a lot of information about online colleges in colorado springs, colorado state university online, university of denver, online colleges in denver colorado and university of colorado online.

Most Affordable Online Schools

Professionals with a college degree typically earn higher salaries, benefit from a lower unemployment rate, and qualify for more jobs than individuals without a college education. Choosing affordable colleges and universities can help students earn a degree without going into debt.

Careers that require a bachelor’s degree typically pay more than occupations that require only a high school diploma. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bachelor’s degree-holders earn $26,000 more per year, on average, than professionals with only a high school diploma. Additionally, the unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma was 3.7% in 2019, compared to 2.2% for bachelor’s degree-holders, according to the BLS.

Earning a bachelor’s degree can lead to career possibilities in a variety of industries. Entry-level positions in education, healthcare, business, and technology all require a bachelor’s degree.

The following list ranks the most affordable colleges to help students find the best online college for their budget and career goals. This article also introduces the requirements for earning a college degree and explores scholarship opportunities for undergraduate students.

Top 10 Cheapest Online Colleges

1University of Florida$11313
2California State University-Los Angeles$4403
3Indiana University-Bloomington$11931
4Palm Beach State College$3064
5St Petersburg College$3477
6Eastern Florida State College$4408
7The University of Texas at Austin$14156
8Arkansas Tech University$11674
9University of Connecticut$19650
10Dalton State College$6484

Common Questions on Online College Affordability

How can I go to college for free?Students can reduce the cost of their education by choosing one of the most affordable programs. Learners can also apply for grants and scholarships, many of which cover the full cost of tuition.
How much does it cost to get a college degree?The cost of earning a college degree varies by school. For the 2017-18 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees was about $18,000 at public institutions and about $46,000 at private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
How can I make college more affordable?Degree-seekers can reduce the cost of attending college by living off campus, applying for scholarships and grants, and choosing one of the most affordable universities.
What is a work-study program?Work-study programs help students pay for school by providing funding in exchange for part-time employment. Students can qualify for the federal work-study program by submitting the FAFSA form.

Benefits of Earning a College Degree?

Students earning a college degree develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Undergraduate learners specialize their education by choosing a major. According to NCES data, the most popular majors include options in business, health professions, the social sciences, psychology, biology, engineering, and communication. Other common undergraduate majors include topics in the arts, education, social work, and criminal justice.

A bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level educational requirement for many high-paying careers, including occupations in management, accounting, marketing, and teaching. Earning a college degree can help professionals advance their current career or pursue opportunities in a new field.

Why Get a College Degree?

Earning a college degree can lead to additional job opportunities and higher earning potential. Many of the top-ranked and most affordable colleges offer online programs, which make postsecondary education more accessible for working students. See below for some common reasons that working professionals pursue distance-learning programs.Increased Earning PotentialProfessionals with a college degree typically earn more than those with a high school diploma. According to BLS data, higher levels of education correlate with higher median salaries.More Career OpportunitiesMany entry-level positions in business, education, and healthcare require a bachelor’s degree. Earning a college degree can lead to new career prospects.FlexibilityOnline programs typically offer more scheduling flexibility than on-campus programs. Asynchronous online course formats allow students to complete assignments at their convenience, which can help learners balance coursework with personal and professional responsibilities.AccessibilityOnline students can attend a top-ranked program without relocating or leaving their current job. Because geography does not limit distance learners, they can choose from the nation’s most affordable programs.

What Are the Requirements for a College Degree?

Prospective students considering affordable programs should ensure they meet admission requirements before applying. Depending on the school, applicants may need to submit proof of a high school diploma or the equivalent, high school transcripts, and standardized test scores. Transfer students must typically submit official college transcripts. Some schools also require recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

Admitted undergraduate students complete general education requirements, take courses in their major, and choose a minor or electives. Degree-seekers may also complete an internship, capstone project, or thesis.

How Does College Accreditation Work?

Accreditation is a form of certification in which an independent body will verify that a school or academic program meets minimum academic standards. It ensures that the academic credential a student works so hard to obtain means something substantial, and that it will be recognized as such by employers and other post-secondary institutions. Given the time and monetary cost of a college education, prospective students must make sure their chosen school and/or program is accredited. Learn more and find out how to determine if a particular school or program is accredited.

What is Accreditation?

Accrediting agencies are private organizations that work to ensure academic institutions within its jurisdiction meet acceptable levels of educational quality. These agencies can accredit schools at a national or international level, or they might focus on a specific region.

Most colleges and universities in the United States receive their accreditation from a regional agency; this is known as institutional accreditation. Accrediting bodies may also accredit specific programs, which is known as programmatic accreditation. Remember, just because a program is accredited, that doesn’t mean the school is and vice versa. One should also check to see if there are any specialized accreditations.

In the United States, there are six primary regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education accreditation.

What is CHEA?

Accrediting agencies look at the schools to make sure they are up to par, but who ensures the accrediting agencies themselves are up to the proper standards? That’s the CHEA, or Council for Higher Education. It is one of the two main organizations in the United States (the other being the US Department of Education) that recognizes other accrediting agencies. Basically, the CHEA makes sure that the organizations certifying schools and academic programs meet certain minimum accreditation standards. The CHEA consists of approximately 3,000 post-secondary member institutions and recognizes about 60 organizations that accredit either post-secondary programs or institutions.

How is the Department of Education Involved?

The U.S. Department of Education became involved in education accreditation when returning soldiers from the Korean War wanted to go to college on the GI Bill. With so many individuals wanting a college degree, unscrupulous degree mills sprang up to take advantage of unsuspecting prospective students. To ensure taxpayer dollars weren’t spent on worthless degrees, Congress created a law that required any post-secondary institution accepting students that received federal financial aid to meet and maintain certain minimum academic quality standards.

While the DOE doesn’t accredit schools and has no direct control over accreditation, it recognizes organizations that accredit schools. If an accrediting agency isn’t recognized by the DOE (or the CHEA), its accreditation granting powers aren’t given much weight or respect in the academic or professional communities.

How Colleges and Universities Get Accredited

Despite the importance of accreditation, becoming accredited is voluntary. However, any school that has concern for maintaining a student body and delivering a quality education will work toward receiving and keeping accreditation. The exact procedure will depend on which accrediting agency the school seeks accreditation from, but regardless of the agency, the entire process typically takes one to two years to complete.

  • 1. The first step to accreditation is to identify which accreditation credential to obtain. Among the CHEA or U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting bodies, some are more prestigious than others, due to their more rigorous accrediting standards. For the most part, the more prestigious the accreditation, the higher standards the school must meet. Then there’s the fact that a school can get programmatic accreditation for its individual programs, even if the school itself is already accredited.
  • 2. Once a school chooses which accreditation it wants, it must identify and satisfy the eligibility requirements. During this time, it may be in candidacy status. This means the school is not yet accredited, but it’s on its way to meeting the requirements for accreditation.
  • 3. During the candidacy status, the school will submit large amounts of paperwork and documentation to show it does qualify for accreditation. This will include information about its faculty, the financial viability of the school, class syllabi, graduation requirements, degree requirements and samples of student work.
  • 4. The next step is the evaluation, where commission members will review the school’s accomplishments and characteristics to determine if accreditation is warranted. This will usually include both document review and an on-site visit of the school’s campus and facilities.
  • 5. Finally, a decision is made. Until a decision is made, the school will be under the continuous obligation to provide updates on its academic and financial status. Should the school become accredited, it will have to renew its accreditation periodically, typically every few years or so.

Recognizing Accreditation

Even if a school has the financial resources to operate without federal aid, unless it also has the money to provide an almost free education to its students, it cannot survive as an educational institution. Few students have the ability to pay for the full price of college with cash. Many students will therefore rely on financial aid, much of which comes from the federal government. Even students who can obtain generous scholarships must still avoid unaccredited schools; that’s because most financial aid awards, even private scholarships or grants, are dependent on the students enrolling in an accredited institution.

With accreditation being so important, it’s no wonder schools want to be accredited. But not all schools can obtain this credential, so they look for shortcuts. One of the popular shortcuts is to obtain accreditation from an organization that has the least rigorous requirements. While not every accrediting agency is expected to establish accreditation requirements that only a handful of schools can meet, they can’t make the requirements so easy that any school can meet them. That’s why accrediting agencies must be “recognized” by either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

When the Department of Education works to determine if a school provides an education of sufficient quality to warrant federal money, it looks at accreditation. Only a school that has current accreditation can qualify for federal cash.

If a school is accredited by an organization not recognized by the CHEA or US Department of Education, it’s almost as if the school isn’t accredited at all. Just as accreditation ensures a school isn’t a degree mill, recognition ensures an accrediting agency isn’t an accreditation mill. These layers of protection for students help ensure their degree is much more than a simple piece of paper.

Understanding Types of Accreditation

There are two main types of post-secondary accreditation. The first is institutional accreditation and it refers to an entire school or institution having met minimum academic quality standards. Most colleges and universities in the United States receive institutional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Even though a school may be accredited, its individual programs can be accredited as well. This second type of accreditation is called programmatic accreditation. Not all of a school’s programs will have its own separate accrediting body, but many professional programs will; a few examples include engineering, nursing, law, medicine and business. Prospective students choosing to enroll in one of these types of professional programs are strongly encouraged to ensure that their chosen program and school are both accredited by their respective accrediting bodies.

Why Accreditation Matters

Accreditation signifies that the educational institution provides a quality education by meeting specific academic standards. These standards typically revolve around the school’s ability to provide academic support to its students, the rate in which students are expected to progress, how well students are prepared upon graduation, faculty quality and curriculum requirements. Accreditation ensures that all colleges in that particular region or area that obtain accreditation can compete against each other on a level playing field; for instance, a student won’t necessarily get a better education at one college over another. By attending an accredited school or program, a student knows that they will obtain a certain level of knowledge and training. Accreditation also increases the likelihood that an external party, such as another school or employer, will recognize the academic credential the students has worked so hard to achieve. Without accreditation, there is no way for an employer, government agency or another school to know that the student didn’t just buy a college degree from a degree mill over the weekend. Though that sounds far-fetched, before accreditation came along, it was an entirely possible scenario.

The Consequences of Attending a Non-accredited School

The consequences of going to a non-accredited school will depend on the exact reason the student enrolls in a course or program. But generally speaking, if a student attends a school that’s not accredited, they will miss out on certain advantages and face the possibility of graduating with a degree, diploma or certificate that is practically worthless beyond any personal satisfaction the student may garner from the accomplishment.

By attending a school that’s not accredited, a student:

  • Will be ineligible to receive state or federal financial aid, including grants and loans.
  • Will be ineligible to receive most private forms of financial aid, especially scholarships.
  • May have employers disregard or simply ignore any academic credential that came from the unaccredited institution.
  • Will be attending an educational institution that cannot receive any federal or state funding to help support the school.
  • May not have the academic credits earned at the unaccredited school be accepted by another school when transferring or applying for admission.
  • May open themselves up to the potential for criminal prosecution or civil liability for the unauthorized practice of a particular profession.

How to Find out if an Online School is Accredited

Students interested in an online college or university should be particularly careful to make sure the school is accredited. Most online programs in the United States today are not degree mills and expect the same level of academic performance from their online and on-campus students. However, the risk remains and prospective students interested in a particular school or program should verify its accreditation status as soon as possible, even before applying. This is because there’s little point in completing an application, possibly paying an application fee and writing an admissions essay to a school that’s not accredited.

But how can a student know for sure? The following is the process by which prospective students can tell if a particular school is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.

Accreditation Red Flags

Schools without Department of Education or CHEA recognized accreditation know they’re lacking a very important characteristic, one that most students will demand. Therefore, unscrupulous schools work very hard to confuse or trick prospective students into thinking the school is accredited. They might even take another route and claim accreditation isn’t necessary given the school’s other selling points.

One way schools will try to fool students is by getting accredited by an “accreditation mill.” An accreditation mill is an organization that provides an accreditation credential much more easily than a reputable accrediting body would. In some instances, an accreditation mill will simply provide the accreditation status after the school pays a fee.

The following is a list of red flags that may signify a school is not accredited or is accredited by an accreditation mill. Most of these red flags by themselves will not automatically mean a school isn’t properly accredited, but if there are multiple issues popping up, prospective students should probably apply elsewhere.

  • Very similar name and website appearance to a well-known and accredited school, as if the questionable school is trying to confuse prospective students.
  • Other schools and employers located in the same region have never heard of the school.
  • Claims to be accredited, but the accrediting agency isn’t recognized by the US Department of Education or the CHEA.
  • Has a pending accreditation status, with no estimated date for when accreditation should be obtained.
  • Promises degree completion in an unusually short period of time.
  • Unusually high or low tuition rates.
  • A flat tuition rate, regardless of a student’s course load.
  • Automatic acceptance into the school.
  • Promotional information appears very “salesy.”
  • Faculty credentials are not available.
  • Makes impressive claims about its program, such as a high average salary for graduates or robust employment rates after graduation, without citing sources or offering ways to verify that information.
  • Does not provide an address to a physical location of its campus or offices.
  • Graduation and curriculum requirements are far less rigorous than comparable, accredited programs.
  • Degrees can be obtained solely on prior experience.
  • Provides academic credit for prior coursework without the student having to provide a certified transcript or other comparable academic credentials.
  • Few, if any, class attendance requirements.

Accreditation Resources

  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)Along with the US Department of Education, the CHEA is one of the two primary organizations that certify accrediting organizations. In essence, the CHEA accredits accrediting agencies.
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)Formerly known as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which accredits schools at all levels, the HLC now focuses solely on accrediting colleges and universities in 19 states.
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)The MSA accredits most schools in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including elementary and secondary schools (through the MSCESS) and post-secondary institutions (through the MSCHE).
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)The NEASC is made up of four separate commissions, with each commission accrediting a different group or level of schools in the New England region and select countries. The post-secondary group of schools is accredited by the CIHE.
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)As its name implies, the NWCCU accredits colleges and universities in the northwest region of the United States.
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)Through its college and university accrediting arm, the SACSCOC, the SACS’ mission is to foster accreditation of educational institutions in the southern region of the United States.
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)The WSCUC accredits the post-secondary institutions in the western region of the United States, including a few schools located outside the United States.
  • United States Department of EducationThe US Department of Education is the federal agency that oversees how federal funding is spent on education in the United States. Due to its interest in only providing federal financial assistance to reputable education institutions, it is also one of the two primary agencies (along with the CHEA) that certify accrediting agencies.

Scholarships for College Students

College students can reduce the cost of earning a degree by applying for scholarships. Some scholarships cover the full cost of tuition at affordable universities. Professional associations, private foundations, and institutions award scholarships to undergraduate students. Learners can research awards based on their field, background, and state. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can apply for the scholarships below.

Unigo $10K Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Unigo awards a $10,000 scholarship to U.S. students. Applicants must submit an essay about the favorite mobile app of a historical figure if they lived today. Applicants must be enrolled in or plan to enroll in an accredited college or university.
Amount: $10,000

Education Matters Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports college students who submit a 250-word essay describing why education matters. Applicants must hold legal U.S. residency. Their essay should detail a theoretical response to someone who calls college a waste of time.
Amount: $5,000

Get Educated Online Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports distance learners at accredited institutions. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit an essay describing what an online degree means to them personally. The scholarship committee considers each applicant’s merit and financial need.
Amount: $1,000

Horatio Alger Association Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Horatio Alger Association offers multiple scholarships for undergraduate and vocational students. Applicants must demonstrate critical financial need. The association also considers each candidate’s academic achievement and leadership potential.
Amount: Up to $25,000

Undergraduate Distance Learning Degrees Academic Scholarships

Who Can Apply: awards merit-based scholarships to online learners at the associate and bachelor’s levels. Applicants must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident attending an accredited school. The committee considers each candidate’s academic achievements and extracurricular activities.
Amount: $500

Employment in Colorado

With 14 major industrial sectors, Colorado offers employment opportunities across academic disciplines. Half of the top industries in Colorado incorporate an aspect of STEM, while recreation and tourism careers are also popular. Colorado ranked in the top five of states for start-up activity in 2015, and it is the top employer in the private aerospace sector in the United States.

While the cost of living index in Colorado is above the national average, health, grocery, and utility costs are comparable with those found throughout the United States. Housing remains the top expense for individuals living in Colorado — a cost that varies by region.

In Colorado, unemployment remained relatively consistent through 2020, topping out at 7% in August. In January 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployment was down to 6.6%.

Below are a few of the highest paying roles employing more than 2,500 individuals in Colorado. Salary information applies specifically to Colorado, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Online Associate and Graduate Degrees

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities have expanded online education options for students. This holds true for undergraduate and graduate learners alike. Online colleges in Colorado offer programs that mirror on-campus degrees. Some online programs incorporate hybrid components to supplement online coursework or include both asynchronous and synchronous learning options.

Common online associate degrees in Colorado include business administration, management, accounting, and health administration services. The foundational knowledge and skills built through an online associate degree can prepare graduates for entry-level careers, like accounting assistant and office manager. Colorado students can earn statewide guaranteed transfer degrees in areas such as biology, economics, and English — ideal for individuals who plan to transfer to a bachelor’s program.

Online graduate programs in Colorado tend to correspond with the top industries in the state. This meets the needs of working professionals, traditional students, and employers in the state. For example, CSU-Global offers online master’s degrees in 10 areas, including agricultural sciences, communication, business, and engineering.

Similarly, students at CU Online can earn online master’s degrees in areas like business analytics, nursing, and information systems. Master’s degrees in management and organization, financial and risk management, and supply chain management prepare individuals for top-paying and in-demand roles, like construction manager and management analyst.

Cost Considerations for Online Students in Colorado

The tables above do not reflect some fees and expenses, such as housing and transportation costs. Below are some considerations prospective students should take into account when budgeting for college.

  • Residency Requirements: Some programs include on-campus requirements for distance learners. These components may require students to incur housing or travel expenses.
  • Technology Fees: Many online schools charge technology fees to cover online resources and technical support. These may be one-time or annual fees.
  • Summer, Evening, and Weekend Tuition: Universities often vary tuition rates according to each student’s class schedule. Learners should research fees associated with summer, evening, and weekend courses.
  • Textbooks and Materials: Online courses may require physical or digital textbooks, along with online learning resources.
  • Required Travel: Some distance education programs require internships or practicums that involve travel.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Colorado

Some Colorado schools offer in-state tuition rates to all online learners, regardless of residency status. This can save out-of-state students thousands of dollars in tuition. The Colorado Department of Higher Education website lists the residency requirements for the state.

Students can also research reciprocity agreements and exchange programs. Colorado recognizes several exchange groups, including the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the Western Regional Graduate Program Exchange, and the Professional Student Exchange Program.

Learners can find information about tuition rates and residency requirements on their prospective school’s website.

The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Colorado

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) sets standards for postsecondary institutions. Colleges must meet these standards to receive accreditation, which serves as a mark of quality. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also monitors accrediting boards. The following sections provide information about the different types of accreditation.

Regional and National Accreditation

Public universities and state schools typically receive regional accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to private colleges, trade schools, and vocational institutions. Regional accreditation is older and is generally considered to be more prestigious.

The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to Colorado institutions. The ED and CHEA oversee both regional and national accrediting agencies.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Subject-specific accreditation agencies evaluate individual programs. Professionals and experts in the field oversee specialized accrediting agencies. Students can find these organizations and accredited programs in the CHEA database and the ED database.

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

Most accredited schools showcase their institutional and programmatic accreditation on their website. Prospective students can determine a Colorado institution’s regional accreditation status through the Higher Learning Commission’s website. Learners should search the ED and CHEA databases to learn whether a program holds accreditation.

Online College and Adult Education in Colorado

Government funding of online and adult education programs can help reduce the financial burden on students. The sections below include statistics about adult education in Colorado and links to state-funded initiatives.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in Colorado

  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree have a 2.1% unemployment rate in Colorado.
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $48,818 in Colorado.
  • The Department of Education projects that about 74% of all jobs in Colorado will require a postsecondary degree or training by 2020.

Source: Colorado Department of Education

Adult Education Programs for Colorado Students

  • Colorado High School Equivalency Program: The Colorado Department of Education approves three tests for students to receive a high school equivalency diploma: the GED credential, the High School Equivalency Test, and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.
  • Integrated Education and Training: The IET initiative offers classes in basic skills and English language to help learners obtain occupational and college certificates. Students can earn a high school equivalency certificate and a college certificate simultaneously.
  • English Language Acquisition: This program helps individuals whose native language is not English. Students learn speaking, writing, and reading skills that they can use in college courses and their professional lives.

Online College Resources for Colorado Students

Before applying to online schools and colleges in Colorado, students should research the accessibility and affordability of their options. Online resources can help learners determine their goals, next steps, and desired outcomes. Below are five websites that provide tools and information for Colorado students.

  • This website allows students to enter their high school GPA, test scores, and class schedule to learn whether they meet the admission standards of Colorado institutions.
  • Students can search this database by career to find suitable training programs and courses. This website lays out pathways of study for each career, with variations for unique specializations and goals.
  • Federal Student Aid: The federal government provides many different types of financial aid for college students. This website explains each type of financial aid and helps students determine which kind is right for them.
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education: Partnered with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, this organization provides information on college applications, residency requirements, affordability, and financial aid. This website also explains transfer policies, exchange programs, and extended study options.
  • My Colorado Journey: This website curates various resources for college students. Students enter their goals to learn about the steps they must take to reach their desired outcome.

Students all over the country are looking for a way to earn an online degree in Denver, Colorado. This may be a result of the fact that so many wonderful schools are based in and around the city, making it a great choice for students who are hoping to enter a program that will help them in their career. It’s also because the schools in the area are known for specialty fields such as STEM, nursing, and education.

But with so many choices, how is a student to choose the best school for them? They need a ranking that showcases the most important factors for them, including class sizes, tuition rates, and types of degree options available. That is exactly what this ranking does, along with providing students with more information about the online portal as a whole and features that students can expect

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