Evaluating the Cost of Online School vs. In-Person

This generation is practical, smart, and calculated. Their parents lived through historical country events, a recession that changed America, and even a virus that halted the world. The kids of these parents heading to college today are kids who can learn anywhere and are adaptable, and expect things to change at any moment. They are also kids that have grown up with so many conveniences, high-speed internet, and the world at their fingertips. 

Before they graduate high school, they are now figuring out what is best for them financially and for their educational future. They are still told how great going to college is, but they are also evaluating the practical parts and the pros and cons of being in-person versus doing online school.


Based on the college you choose, the location, and if you choose private or public school, the costs vary. The average cost of college is  $8000 per year to $46,000. This has increased so dramatically over the past two decades. 

Public School In State Vs. Out of State: In-State Public 

Universities are about $9000 for four years, but they can get higher based on your state. Out-of-State Public Schools without any financial aid is about $26,000 on average. Many times these schools give more scholarships for students that want to attend out of state. These costs don’t include room and board, which can exceed the cost of tuition at times if you stay on campus. If you stay off-campus and share the costs, this total cost can be lowered greatly.

Private Four Year University:

A private college will cost about $31,000 on average

Pros of in-person besides cost: The costs can vary on a four-year college but being in-person and experiencing campus life can be very impactful. You get college life experience, you make friends in the same situation, you are focused on school, and the environment lends itself to keeping you focused, your resources are at your fingertips, and you have other students who can help you as needed.

Making in-person the best price possible: To keep costs low, you can do a hybrid where you stay at your home, eat at your home, but drive to a local school or community college. This gives you the best of both worlds but keeps the costs extremely low. This is a common option among graduating high school students these days. They understand that they can get a great education at a smaller college and keep their costs low. They know how their parents were saddled with debt from the more common four-year degrees, and they are smarter about choosing majors for their future work. Some even do a smaller college or community college locally first and then head to a larger college for their professional degrees. Students can attend in-person and do room and board and keep the cost low by evaluating each college they are looking at and comparing their costs. They may go to a lower-cost option and get the most of their college experience without the future debt.

Where In Person is the best option:

If you want to get a quick associate’s or add on to your degree in the medical field, the cost of in-state two-year programs is about $3000 per year. You will get hands-on experience and get through your degree in just two years. This is also a great program. It is also the best option when you desire college life and find a college that isn’t going to be expensive.

Online School: Online schools typically charge per credit hour, ranging from $180 to $470. They do not usually differentiate between in-state or out-of-state students. They also don’t change their prices typically for public vs. private school prices. 75% of colleges have different in-person prices vs. online. Usually, online is the lower price option; however, community colleges often charge more online than in-person since their in-person rates are low.

Many people choose online schools for convenience and price. Most of the time, the cost of an online school is one-fourth of the cost of in-person school over four years. It’s also great to stay home, and your room and board are kept low. It’s a great way to save on your costs overall. If you are near the college you are attending online; you can often participate in the on-campus activities. Some online schools also charge you for this. Online college prices have increased by 20% recently but still remain lower in most states than an in-school option.

Where Online is the best option:

If you are a parent, or maybe a mom with young children, or you want to further your education and professional career, such as getting a master’s. Attending an online school is smarter in these situations. Many times you can take the classes as they fit into your schedule. The cost is low since you are only paying tuition. It’s also the best option if you are home or need to stay in your home for personal, health, or family reasons. You can get an education at your fingertips.