How Much Does an Associate Degree Cost?

How Much Does an Associate Degree Cost?
Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.

The total cost of earning an associate degree is important if you are considering committing to a two-year degree program. In the U.S., the cost of an associate degree can vary significantly depending on a few factors, such as the specific college you decide to attend, the college’s location, the type of institution (traditional or online), the degree program itself, and whether it’s a public or private institution. The average cost of an associate's degree is a crucial consideration for prospective students looking to commit to a two-year degree program.

On average:

  • The associate degree cost at a two-year public institution is around $11,600 per year, including room and board rates for full-time students.
  • Two-year private institutions can add up to as much as about $30,850 per year for nonprofits and $24,300 for for-profits.
  • Tuition for online community college students in the Campus online associate degree in business program is $7,200 per year, with no charges for room and board and other fees that may apply for similar programs. Concerns about the cost of an associate degree often revolve around factors such as tuition fees and living expenses.

Now, let's get into the fine details on the general cost of an associate degree at both traditional and online degree-granting institutions, and the rather significant differences between their tuition and living expenses.

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Average Cost of Associate Degrees in the United States

An associate degree is a college degree that does not require students to attend school for the traditional four years to complete, and it covers the fundamental knowledge of a subject.

Whether online or in-person, an associate degree gives students excellent proficiency in dozens of careers. It typically covers around 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits), and can be obtained from a community college or junior college, though other types of institutions may offer them. Therefore, the cost of an associate degree tends to be significantly different from the cost of four-year degrees.

Earning a Two-Year Degree

An associate degree program, otherwise known as a two-year degree program, typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. These degree programs are available at various colleges, including community colleges, vocational and technical colleges, and affiliated colleges of universities.

Many prospective students wonder, "How much does an associate's degree cost?" before embarking on their educational journey. When it comes to the cost of an associate degree in these colleges, you need to consider the total cost of attending college, which includes more than just tuition. Students still incur living costs while taking classes, in addition to tuition. Living expenses for those not living on campus will include rent, services (including high-speed internet), parking, and commuting expenses.

The tuition prices even vary with the decision of whether you go for a community college, a public, or a private institution. And attending a public institution will be more expensive than enrolling at a community college, while private institutions can sometimes be costlier than both. Understanding the cost of an associate degree involves analyzing tuition rates and living expenses associated with different types of institutions.

Cost of Tuition Versus Cost of Living

There are key differences in how much online and on-campus associate degree programs cost. For the complete two-year degree, on-campus and online students have important expenses to consider, including the cost of tuition, fees, and class materials.

Exploring the average cost of an associate's degree provides insights into the financial investment required for higher education. The NCES reports that for those earning an associate degree at a public two-year institution, a year of tuition and fees costs an average of $11,619, including room and board rates for in-state students (on-campus programs).

In contrast, private two-year institutions charge on average about $27,366 each year. These figures for public and private schools do not add the extra costs of books and supplies or other fees.

On-campus room and board can cost students an extra $6,000 to $10,000 per year. Although online students still need to cover the cost of where they live and what they eat, attending school remotely means they have more control over their living arrangements and expenses (which can vary widely by location and individual circumstances).

On average, an online associate degree program can cost $3,501 for one year of tuition and fees at a public two-year institution for in-state students and $8,256 for out-state students. Private institutions in general charge about $16,579 each year.

Calculating the cost of associate degree programs involves considering additional expenses beyond tuition fees. For online students, if we factor in textbooks, equipment, travel, and the cost of living expenses such as housing, the prices can also rise. There is also the need for reliable computers and internet connection to participate in classes, maybe additional expenses for online science lab kits ($30-$200 per lesson) and exam proctoring services ($7-$25 per exam), depending on the program.

How Much Does an Online Associate Degree Cost?

Many community colleges and technical schools offer students the chance to earn an associate degree completely online. This online degree requires students to achieve the same number of credits and classes as those who earn associate degrees on campus. They are created for students who want to earn a two-year degree but may not be able to commit to on-campus study, or just prefer being a remote student.

In a traditional program, students attend class at set times in a specific location, meaning students must live on campus or be close enough to commute. However, attending an online associate degree program is a choice of how you learn, not the degree you earn - the most significant differences being where, and even when you learn.

The quality of online degree programs is typically the same as in-person programs. The professors who teach in-person classes also teach these online classes and use the same curriculums. You also earn the same credentials online as you would through an on-campus program.

The Online Associate Degree Cost Versus Traditional Cost

Determining the cost of an associate's degree encompasses various components, including tuition, living expenses, and educational supplies. An estimate of online associate degree cost of attendance (COA) includes tuition and fees, room and board allowance, transportation, books & supplies, miscellaneous personal expenses, and other provisions as needed by the student. However, these expenses can vary depending on whether classes occur traditionally or online.

When estimating the total financial expenses of an associate degree college education, the tuition rates for online and traditional programs are frequently comparable. But generally, online programs can help you save money on extraneous expenses.

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1. Housing and Living Expenses

Aside from tuition, the price of room and board accounts for a significant expense in computing the average cost of college in the U.S. Room and board cover the general housing needs while earning your degree on campus. In the overall cost of tuition, this typically increases annual expenses by $9,488 per academic year.

In contrast, renting off-campus in the U.S. is less expensive than living on campus at $589 per month (or $7,068 per year).

Food and Meal Plans

Food costs also vary for on-campus and online students. Groceries cost around $328 per month or $3,938 per year, while the campus meal plan averages $4,500 per year. However, some reports show that students who attend traditional classes could pay over $500 extra for campus meal plans than having home-cooked meals each year.

Internet and Other Living Expenses

Understanding the average cost of an associate's degree involves considering both direct and indirect expenses associated with traditional and online education. While there are incurred costs for broadband internet (about $300 per year, a computer (on average, about $760), and potential online learning fees (could be anything from $25 to $100 per semester), there are plenty of fees that online students don’t need to necessarily worry about as explicitly, such as a parking permit, fees for a student health services plan, furniture, transportation costs and more.

If you carefully review traditional and online associate degree cost for living options, you will discover significant savings opportunities, especially when living with family or friends. Besides, living may be more affordable if the expenses on food and rental are split with housemates or in a shared apartment.

2. Transportation

Not only do you save money when you cancel the expenses to commute to campus, but you equally save time which you can set toward your professional, academic, or personal pursuits instead.

Even if you commute, you can regulate where you'll want to study or attend class. You can compare public transit passes against the costs of keeping a car on campus, which may include a parking fee, gas, and regular maintenance.

While transportation costs for on-campus college students vary depending on how students travel and how often, the average amount is estimated at around $1,360 per year.

And according to CollegeBoard, college students tend to spend an average of $1,780 on transportation regardless of their method of transportation.

3. Books and Supplies

Whether studying traditionally or online, college students pay for textbooks and other course materials.

But it is crucial to determine whether students are expected to pay additional fees relating to access to distance learning, technology, online libraries, or materials (for an online program) or student activity fees (for on-campus programs). These indirect costs can add substantially to degree expenses as well.

To provide better insight on the impact of the costs of books and supplies by program, check out these stats from Think Impact:

Type of Institution Average Yearly Cost of Books and Supplies
Public two-year $1,585
Private nonprofit $1,061
Private for-profit $1,393

Overall, college students spent an estimated $415 on books and supplies during the 2018-19 academic year, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Again, the course types you're taking and their delivery method will influence the costs for books and supplies to vary. Exploring the cost of associate degree programs necessitates examining the expenses associated with course materials and educational resources.

On average, not only do online associate degree students pay less and finish school with less debt than on-campus students, but working students who want to keep their jobs while attending classes will also appreciate the degree's flexibility.

Complete Your First Two Years of College with an Online Associate Degree in Business

If you choose the right online college, your quality of education and learning experience should be the same, if not better, than getting your degree at a traditional college. While the cost of an online associate degree may still seem overwhelming, savvy students can find an affordable option that fits within their budget and meets their academic needs.

Students pursuing an associate degree in business build their interpersonal and managerial skills while exploring the relationship between the business market and consumer. At Campus, tuition for an associate degree in a business program is $6,895 per academic year, with no other additional fees.

The Campus online associate degree in business curriculum integrates essential business and general education courses with studies in accounting, business communication & planning, entrepreneurship, social and internet marketing, economics, management, business, quantitative methods, and more.

Upon earning an online associate degree in business, students develop valuable skills including:

  • Effective leadership
  • Ethical and strategic decision-making
  • Team-building initiatives

These are mainly applicable to administration, human resources, and management positions, and these skills prepare students to communicate articulately and professionally on business issues. Additionally, students will be able to evaluate external factors–financial and legal–impacting business on a local, regional, and global scale.

This level of education prepares students for a wide variety of career options. With Campus, students have access to and benefit from the instructions of experts and accomplished professors from world-class universities like Princeton, UT Austin, and Spelman.

All classes in the Campus Scholars programs are live, so you can directly interact with professors and peers. You also have a personal support coach who will be your confidant and advisor through graduation. They'll help you set and achieve your academic and professional goals during your time at Campus.

Campus also provides 24/7 unlimited access to one-on-one math and writing tutoring at zero additional cost so that you can get the necessary academic support. You receive a new laptop and mobile WiFi access if you don't already have access to high-speed internet. Plus, they provide all eTextbook and digital course material access for free.

Request more information to explore the journey to an online associate degree in business with Campus today!

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