Are Online Community College Programs Cheaper than Attending In-Person Classes?

According to research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly a quarter of undergraduate students in 2015 attended community college. Many prospective college students, whether they have an online or in-person program in mind, will cite the cost of attendance as one of the leading factors in the ultimate decision that they make. Naturally, there are many different factors that culminate in the ultimate cost of attendance. In order to make the most well-advised decision on whether or not a program is fiscally advisable, a student needs to consider all of the different elements that lead into the final price.

Many students wonder about whether or not the price of an online community college will truly be that much more affordable than an in-person college. The answer to whether or not an online community course is more affordable than an in-person college depends on the exact extent of resources that are offered to those who attend.

Resource: The 50 Best Online Community Colleges

To make the best decision in terms of financial viability, the most important thing to do is to analyze exactly how many resources are being maintained and offered by the program in question.

The Lack Of The Landscaping Factor

What generally causes online community colleges to be more on the affordable side is the natural lack of various factors that generally play into in-person colleges by default. Unlike a brick and mortar institution, and online college does not have any physical buildings or properties to manage. Because an online college program is entirely virtual, there are no fees that need to be paid for the establishment of land-based structures or maintenance.

An online program only needs to be upheld by the continued functionality of its hosting server. There are no grounds-keeping fees necessitated in order to make sure that a website and online training programs are kept operational throughout the year.

Depending on the nature of the online program, there may be certain features that are offered that other online programs do not have; in some cases, this can result in the price being inflated beyond what is typical. Generally speaking, however, the extra features that will be incorporated into an online program will not be as expensive as any landscaping and construction costs are required for on an in-person college program to exist.

Saving Money On Physical Materials

The price of an in-person college program is not only higher due to the necessitated price of physical establishments, but also the price of physical textbooks, computers and materials. All of the materials that students need in order to physically complete their work on-site will have to first be procured by the university in question, and the cost of acquiring the materials will be offset by higher tuition prices.

Oftentimes, the majority of the price that students must pay out-of-pocket in order to attend their college will simply be the necessitated learning resources that are only available in physical form. An online program provides most of its materials entirely digitally, which prevents the need for any shipping fees to be paid in order to provide materials that are necessary for the conduction of the courses.

Because state funding for in-person colleges has been lowering, the ability that students have to offset to the price of tuition has become less abundant. Though a less expensive tuition doesn’t necessarily guarantee any better or worse quality of education, being aware of how the things that a program provides affect the cost of attendance is a valuable thing for all prospective students to consider.