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COLLEGE FINDER

10 Online Colleges with the Best Financial Aid Opportunities in 2017

Nov 09, 2017
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Methodology

We ranked 969 schools based on the following categories:

  1. Available alternative tuition plans, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  2. Number of distance education programs offered, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  3. Cumulative median debt of graduating students, using data from College Scorecard, 2017.
  4. Average debt repayment of graduated students, averaged together from four different durations that were analyzed using data from College Scorecard, 2017.
  5. Average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to students, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  6. Percent of students receiving institutional grant aid, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  7. Financial aid by income level, ranking separately for percentage of students awarded aid and average amount of aid rewarded at five different income levels, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  8. Net price of education, including grant and scholarship aid, using the 2015-16 final data set from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

To get the final results, schools were ranked on a weighted average of their scores across all eight categories. In the event of a tie, the “Net price of education” category was used as a tiebreaker, and the state with the lower net price was declared the winner.

Sources:

  1. National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Accessed October 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  2. College Scorecard, Accessed October 2017, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/
  3. "Grants vs. Loans" by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 4, 2014, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/04/study-shows-positive-imapcts-government-aid-graduation-rates
  4. History of SIU, Southern Illinois University, Accessed October 2017, http://siu.edu/about-siu/history.php
  5. Online Degrees and Classes, Southern Illinois University, Accessed October 2017, http://extendedcampus.siu.edu/programs/
  6. Financial Aid Office, Southern Illinois University, Accessed October 2017, http://fao.siu.edu/
  7. About OU, The University of Oklahoma, Accessed October 2017, http://www.ou.edu/content/web/about_ou.html
  8. Academic Catalog, Northern Arizona University, Accessed October 2017, http://catalog.nau.edu/Catalog/results?cat=ALLDEGREES&campus=DISLN
  9. Tuition Discounts, Northern Arizona University, Accessed October 2017, http://ec.nau.edu/TuitionDiscounts.aspx
  10. About Illinois Overview, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Accessed October 2017, http://illinois.edu/about/index.html
  11. About Temple, Temple University, Accessed October 2017, https://nextstop.temple.edu/about
  12. Graduate Programs, Online.temple.edu, Temple University, Accessed October 2017, https://online.temple.edu/offerings/graduate
  13. Fast Facts, Temple University, Accessed October 2017, https://nextstop.temple.edu/about/fast-facts
  14. About Illinois Springfield, University of Illinois Springfield, Accessed October 2017, http://www.uis.edu/about/
  15. Online, University of Illinois Springfield, Accessed October 2017, http://www.uis.edu/online/
  16. About the University of Arizona, Accessed October 2017, http://www.arizona.edu/about
  17. Online Programs: All, University of Arizona, Accessed October 2017, http://uaonline.arizona.edu/programs/all
  18. History & Traditions, Ohio University, Accessed October 2017, https://www.ohio.edu/students/history.cfm
  19. Focus on Ohio, Ohio University, Accessed October 2017, https://www.ohio.edu/focus/
  20. The OHIO Guarantee, Ohio University, Accessed October 2017, https://www.ohio.edu/guarantee/index.cfm
  21. About Mizzou, University of Missouri, Accessed October 2017, http://missouri.edu/about/
  22. Online Degrees and Programs, University of Missouri, Accessed October 2017, http://online.missouri.edu/degreeprograms/index.aspx
  23. Degrees Available Totally Online, Oklahoma State University, Accessed October 2017, http://www.osuokc.edu/academics/degrees_online.aspx
  24. Scholarships & Financial Aid, Oklahoma State University, Accessed October 2017, https://financialaid.okstate.edu/
  25. Scholarships and Financial Aid, Oklahoma State University, Accessed October 2017, https://financialaid.okstate.edu/
  26. America's Healthiest Campus, Oklahoma State University, Accessed October 2017, https://firstcowgirl.okstate.edu/america%E2%80%99s-healthiest-campus
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10 colleges with best financial aid

You've decided to attend college, selected a path of study and judged which schools and programs interest you. Now it's time to talk money.

No other factor affects college enrollment, degree completion and student success more than cost. Research shows that for every $1,000 of financial aid a student receives, his or her chances of both obtaining a four-year degree and graduating on time significantly increase. While loans are always an option, grants and scholarships can be an even greater help to a student, especially ones that are "institutional," or offered directly from the school itself.

To help guide your search when it comes to price, we've used a unique methodology (described at the bottom of this page) to discover which colleges are offering both online programs and outstanding financial aid opportunities to their students. By analyzing data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) — including net price, alternative tuition plans offered, percent of students receiving financial aid and average amounts of aid offered — we are now proud to present our list of the 10 online colleges offering the best financial aid opportunities to students.

1. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $9,644
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 9.58%
  • Net price of education: $15,595

Founded in 1869 as an Illinois teachers college, the SIU Carbondale community has always prided itself on its diversity; 29 percent of its student body are minority students, and its number of degrees awarded to minorities are among the highest in the nation. As part of its campaign for supporting diversity, SIU is committed to making education accessible to anyone through the financial aid opportunities it offers.

Out of 969 schools, SIU Carbondale ranks No.98 for the percent of its student body awarded financial aid, and it ranks No.33 for its average amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded at all income levels. Students who are accepted to this generous university have access to the school's 16 online bachelor's and 10 online master's degree programs, in subjects ranging from business to criminal justice, journalism, public safety and even architecture.

2. University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $7,488
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 3.21%
  • Net price of education: $16,909

The University of Oklahoma was founded in 1890 in Norman, in what once was a barren prairie. Today, its undergraduate population alone is just over 20,000. The Norman campus is also home to the National Weather Center, as well as Top 3-ranked entrepreneurship and dance programs and 29 Rhodes Scholars. And its online bachelor's programs and graduate criminal justice programs were ranked on the list of Best Online Programs for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.

OU Norman makes our list for the high average amount of institutional grant aid it offers — it ranks No.54 out of 969 schools — and the high number of its enrolled students who are receiving aid, a metric for which it scored No.51.

3. Northern Arizona University

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $9,908
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 5.40%
  • Net price of education: $14,615

Northern Arizona University offers more online programs to its students than any other school on our list — 46 online bachelor's programs alone, plus 24 online master's degree programs, in subjects including arts and humanities, business and administration, computing and technology, education and counseling, math and science and social sciences and criminal justice.

NAU earns points for its notably high average amount of institutional grant aid (it ranks No.40 out of 969 schools) and its even more impressive average amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded at all income levels (where it ranks No.29). The college offers numerous discounts to students as well; savings are available for servicemembers and veterans, or for students living in the West or near the Arizona border.

4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $11,425
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 4.42%
  • Net price of education: $16,841

This land-grant university that was founded in 1862 is a research powerhouse. Its research and development expenditures topped $620 billion in 2016, and it has ranked first among all universities for six years running in National Science Foundation award funding. Plus, it has one of the largest public university library collections in the world.

The Illinois colleges on our list all rank highly for their average amounts of grant and scholarship funds offered. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign does this and more, offering nearly 30 online degree programs to its students and scoring No.33 in our metrics for average amount of institutional grant aid awarded.

5. Temple University

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $8,246
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 4.84%
  • Net price of education: $20,236

Philadelphia's Temple University is a renowned, top-ranked research institution — one of only 115 institutions to be considered so by the Carnegie Foundation. It offers only one online undergraduate degree — a Bachelor's in Business Administration — though its graduate offerings are more robust, with 14 online master's degrees in subjects including health care, business, social work and travel and tourism.

Though Temple charges a higher tuition than many other schools on our list, 82 percent of its full-time undergraduates are awarded financial aid. It makes our list for this high percentage of students receiving aid — it ranks No.37 on our list out of 969 schools — and a high average amount of institutional grant aid (for which it ranks No.43).

6. University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $11,753
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 2.86%
  • Net price of education: $12,308

The smallest of the three-campus University of Illinois system, UIS had a total enrollment of less than 5,000 in fall 2017. Still, its online offerings are mighty, thanks to its partnerships with schools around the country. UIS offers 12 undergraduate degrees online — in subjects including but not limited to computer science, health care, history and mathematics — as well as more than a dozen online graduate degrees.

UIS is another Illinois school offering lots of financial aid — in this case, a remarkable No.14 out of 969 schools for the percent of its students who are receiving institutional grant aid, the highest ranking of all 10 schools that made it onto our list.

7. University of Arizona

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $7,897
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 4.34%
  • Net price of education: $15,591

Recognized as a site of innovation in Arizona and around the country, U of A brings in more than $606 million in research investment each year. Home to two medical schools, it also is home to an astronomical observatory mirror lab and is leading the OSIRIS-REx space mission to scoop samples from a near-Earth asteroid in 2020.

Its innovation extends to its online offerings as well. U of A offers more than 80 online degree programs to its students, in a range of subjects such as government and public service, innovation and entrepreneurship, optical sciences and systems engineering. It also scored highly on our list for its average amount of institutional aid offered — a stellar No.45 out of 969 schools.

8. Ohio University - Main Campus

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $4,657
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 6.70%
  • Net price of education: $20,560

The oldest school on our list, Ohio University opened in 1807 in Athens, Ohio, with one building, three students and a professor. Today its student body totals nearly 37,000, and it's considered one of the nation's top research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. Its online offerings include associate, bachelor's and master's degrees across many different subjects, with a particular focus on health care and the sciences. In addition to the high percentage of financial aid the school awards (No.43 out of 969,) enrolled students are likely to appreciate the OHIO Guarantee, a cohort-based, level-rate tuition, housing, dining and fee model that ensures students will pay the same rate throughout their enrollment for 12 consecutive semesters.

9. University of Missouri - Columbia

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $6,396
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 4.44%
  • Net price of education: $16,026

"Mizzou," as locals call it, is a land-grant institution that was the first public university to open west of the Mississippi. It's also one of only six public universities in the country to claim a medical school, a veterinary medicine college and a law school on the same campus. In fact, it's Missouri's largest and most comprehensive university, with 89 online options alone, in subjects as diverse as agriculture and forestry, economics, human environmental sciences, education and public affairs. Mizzou's average amount of institutional grant aid is also quite large, coming in at No.75 out of all 969 schools analyzed for this list.

10. Oklahoma State University - Main Campus

  • Average amount of institutional grant/ scholarship aid: $7,600
  • Percent of student body awarded financial aid: 4.35%
  • Net price of education: $14,222

America's Healthiest Campus, OSU is notable for its commitment to the overall physical and emotional wellness of its students, which includes being a tobacco-free campus, offering a pet therapy program and even employing a system-wide Chief Wellness Officer. It has a healthy set of online offerings as well: eight fully online undergraduate (associate and bachelor's) degree programs and two certificate of mastery programs, plus many "hybrid" options that blend on-campus and online courses.

OSU offers more than $320 million in scholarships, grants and financial aid each year, which helped it to make our top 10 list; also, the school ranks No.59 out of 969 schools for its percentage of students who receive institutional grant aid.


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