It’s not news: tuition rates are increasing. Whether you want to attend a university down the road or across the country, the cost of attendance has been on the rise, and all indications are that it will continue to go up. Average out-of-state tuition and expenses have increased by 194 percent in the last decade, and in-state costs (considered the “affordable option” by most) have increased by 237 percent, according to U.S. News & World Report.

It’s no wonder that, as reported by Classes & Careers, more and more students are turning to online degree programs, which offer greater affordability than their on-campus counterparts.

Savings and flexibility

Being able to work while they learn means students can earn an income at the same time as a degree.

The most obvious savings offered by online degree programs is in their tuition. Since online students don’t incur the same costs for facilities and other expenses, many institutions pass along this savings in decreased tuition and fees. Further, some colleges offer one rate for online tuition, regardless of a student’s residency. This affords students a greater opportunity to pursue academic programs of interest that are either unavailable or less affordable in their home state.

Online programs also carry a flexibility that allows a student to work full time and complete the coursework at their convenience, even in the middle of the night or the middle of the day. Being able to work while they learn means students can earn an income at the same time as a degree and also gain valuable on-the-job experience to advance their careers.

Comparable capability

There are many reasons for the greater acceptance and prevalence of online courses (31 percent of all college students are now taking them, an increase of 20 percent over the last 15 years, according to Classes & Careers). As technology advances, so does the capability of the online classroom. Prospective students may be surprised these days by the number of online degree programs available across a wide variety of career fields, as noted in a 2017 U.S. News & World Report story.

Finally, in addition to the knowledge gained, a degree earned online proves to employers that potential employees have the self-motivation, drive and grit to finish what they start — qualities that companies desire, adding a competitive edge to a résumé.

In the face of steep education costs, many students and families are finding online degree programs to be the answer they’ve been looking for.