FAQs, Financial Aid Info and Top Universities for 2018
The University System of Georgia (USG) includes four research universities, four comprehensive universities, ten state universities and thirteen state colleges. Collectively, these schools conferred more than 58,000 academic degrees in 2013, 60 percent at the bachelor’s level. With such a high volume of schools and students, comes a growing need for more diverse higher education options. In fall 2012, 16 percent of all undergraduates took at least one online course, with 10 percent of all college students enrolling in a fully online program. But how are Georgia’s online colleges meeting the needs of students and, vice versa, how are students finding the right programs? Read on to learn more.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
With so much variation across schools, it’s hard to nail down what it means to be “the best”. The perfect online college for one Georgia student could be a poor choice for another. Part of the search boils down to identifying what’s most important: a course catalogue with numerous blended and online options, a campus filled with stellar support services or a tuition and fee structure that makes payment as painless as possible. And if you can find online colleges in Georgia that have all that and more (like the ones on this list), that’s a great place to start. See which schools in Georgia are making the grade for online learning.
How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Georgia?
In Georgia, the best place to start is with GeorgiaONmyLINE. Run by the University of Georgia System, the website allows you to search all online courses and online degrees across the entire University System of Georgia. The search remains up-to-date and gives you the option to search for programs by subject area, school, degree level and amount of distance learning you desire: entirely distance (100 percent), distance delivery (95 percent w/some campus visits) and partially distance (51 to 95 percent). You can even search for online course and programs by keyword.
Which online schools in Georgia will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
Numerous online schools in Georgia accept transfer credits from other institutions, but it will often be school-specific. For example, Georgia Tech accepts transfer credits if students provide transcripts for courses in which they received a grade of “C” or better. The University of Georgia takes most general courses designed for a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the University System of Georgia allows students to transfer credits from 28 general education courses from colleges and universities with the same regional accreditation.
For students with no college experience, work/life experience or military experience may be an early ticket to college credit. The USG recommends that students take the Prior Learning Assessment if they feel they have qualifying experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on earnings by educational attainment, workers with a bachelor’s degree as their highest credential earn nearly twice as much—on average—as someone with a high school diploma only ($1,173/week vs. $712/week). The BLS also reports a similar trend in Georgia, where salaries for occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree pay over $20,000 more per year than those that require just a high school diploma:
Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in Georgia, by Minimum Degree Requirement:
As you can see, there’s a significant boost in income in Georgia simply by attaining an associate degree, and it only goes up from there. Additionally, Georgia’s labor market is in a state of steady growth.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Georgia
Georgia continues to show its support for online learning via student-friendly search platforms and Kinder through College legislation. The University System of Georgia created the GeorgiaONmyLINE directory, which helps students research online courses and degrees within the University System of Georgia, and the state passed the Online Learning Bill, which promotes the extension of online learning modules at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
With more online learning options, however, students (and parents) need to keep a close eye on quality. At the college level, this means regional accreditation. When researching online programs at Georgia colleges and universities, make sure the schools on your shortlist have been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). Not only is SACS accreditation a must if you’re studying online in Georgia, but it’s a requirement to receive federal financial aid.
Accreditation by Subject
In addition to regional accreditation, various schools within a college may seek accreditation specific to their subject. This is an extra layer of approval for their program, and, in some cases, it’s a necessity. For example, many business schools actively seek out accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), such as the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Fields including nursing, teacher education, psychology, law, accounting and many others offer specialized, subject-based accreditation.
Paying for Online College in Georgia: Tuition & Financial Aid
College tuition can sap a paycheck, or at least cause those loan amounts to pile up. The good news is, a college degree can be a ticket to a stable career and more lucrative paycheck in Georgia. Let’s take a closer look at tuition rates in Georgia, and what they can mean for first-time college students today:
In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $7,011
Have lived in Georgia for a minimum of 12 continuous months prior to the academic period for which you’re enrolling.
Abandon permanent ties to whatever state you lived in before.
Take necessary steps to assume the responsibilities of a Georgia resident, such as getting a Georgia driver’s license, vehicle registration, voter registration, etc.
Be financially self-sufficient, if independent, and not claimed by anyone else as a dependent.
There are some exceptions, which will be up to the individual college to approve. You may be able to obtain residency status, or pay in-state tuition if…
You live outside Georgia, but your parent lives in-state.
You or your parent is an active military person stationed in Georgia (you can get a waiver for the difference in tuition).
You are a full-time employee of the UGS.
You are a full-time teacher in a Georgia public school.
Are online credits more affordable in Georgia than other places?
The cost of school credits differs within each college and university in Georgia. Let’s look at some undergraduate tuition rates, sans fees, at Georgia’s online colleges compared to those in neighboring states:
How can I get help paying for online college in Georgia?
Once you’ve settled on a program, figure out how to pay for your degree. Georgia has a variety of financial aid opportunities ranging from federal grants to local scholarships.
Georgia Finance Commission: This organization administers state financial aid and runs GAFutures, a website that offers career tools, financial aid calculators, credit transfer information, state scholarships and grants and loans (including the HOPE program).
Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant: These awards are given to Georgia residents who plan to attend eligible private colleges or universities within the state. Recipients get an award of $475 per semester or $317 per quarter for up to three semesters or four quarters per year. Students must be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program of study leading to an undergraduate degree, as well as be U.S. citizens and legal residents of Georgia.
HOPE GED Grant: This award is given to students who earned a GED diploma after June 30, 1993. It provides students with a one-time $500 grant for tuition, books and other educational costs at an eligible postsecondary institution. Full-time enrollment is not required. Students must use their HOPE Grant award within 24 months of the date of earning their GED diploma. In addition to the GED Grant, students can qualify for the HOPE Grant for certificate and diploma programs. Eligible students must be U.S. citizens, legal residents of Georgia and enrolled at a HOPE-eligible postsecondary institution in Georgia.
Zell Miller Grant: Similar to the HOPE Grant, the Zell Miller Grant is given to students working towards a technical certificate or diploma at a TCSG or USG institution. If students uphold a 3.5 cumulative GPA at the end of each term, the grant will cover full tuition at the students choice of school. The first term of enrollment is paid retroactively if the student has earned the required 3.5 GPA. Award amounts vary depending on the program and number of study hours, with a maximum of 15 hours each semester. Like most of these grants, you must be a U.S. citizen and a Georgia resident.
Some students cannot attend college fresh out of high school, and some have to abandon their academic careers because of other work, family or financial obligations. Adult education exists to fill those gaps and help aspiring students get on the path to college. In Georgia specifically, it is making a difference.
Nearly 55 percent of adult education participants in Georgia see a measurable skills increase thanks to the state’s adult education programs. – U.S. Department of Education, 2017
Adult learning courses and traditional online education work together to bring as many people to higher education as possible. Georgia also helps to facilitate adult education through Go Back, Move Ahead, which offers resources and tips to help adults get back to their education.