The COVID-19 pandemic changed nearly every part of daily life in America, including the way Americans got educated. Schools had to decide whether to keep students in classrooms with safety measures implemented, go fully online, or switch to a hybrid model.
While these changes were especially difficult for younger students, some colleges already had experience in educating students online. In the fall of 2019, more than 36% of college students took either some or all of their courses online. And just like in-person education, quality varies among online schools and some universities offer much higher quality online education than others.
To determine the best online colleges, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on academics, admissions, finance, alumni earnings, and student life from school data clearinghouse Niche.
Different types of schools rank among the best online colleges — from two-year community colleges to large public institutions. Some schools prefer to teach the majority of their students online, while others excel at distance learning even though the majority of their students prefer to learn in person.
The best online colleges also vary widely in terms of cost, from a few that cost under $11,000 to one with an average cost of attendance of more than $63,000. Ideally, any person who gets a college degree will boost their future earnings, but there is not always a correlation between tuition and future income. In fact, in each state, there is at least one college that is relatively inexpensive that can massively benefit its graduates down the road. These are the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state.