If you’re interested in taking an online class, it’s time to work out the logistics with your school. What are the costs? What is the registration process like? When you can answer those questions with the help of an advisor or school official, you can start the enrollment process.

Tuition Costs

How much does it cost to take an online class?

The cost of tuition varies between schools, so it’s best to check with your school’s bursar for accurate, current tuition rates.

If you attend a research university, it is likely that you will be charged for your online class per credit hour or per class. At some schools, like the University of Minnesota, you will pay the same amount for an online class as you do for an in-person class. If you are an in-state student, you pay in-state tuition, and if you are an out-of-state student, you pay out-of-state tuition for your online class. The University of Kentucky, on the other hand, charges in-state tuition rates for all students in online classes, regardless of their residency status.

At other schools, the cost isn’t as straightforward. The University of Louisville has its own policy. Online classes cost the same for in-state and out-of-state students, which makes traditional classes cheaper than online classes for in-state students only. The reverse is true for out-of-state students. At the University of Florida, there are distinct tuition rates between online and in-person classes for both in-state and out-of-state students. UF students, regardless of their residency status, will find online classes to be cheaper.

Private schools also maintain their own policies regarding tuition rates, but in-state and out-of-state distinctions are not likely to factor into the equation.

Because tuition policies vary, the best way to find out how much your school charges per online class is to check directly with your school’s bursar.

Can my financial aid package be applied toward the cost of an online class?

If you qualify for federal financial aid, you can absolutely apply it to the cost of your online class. Your class must be offered by an accredited school to be eligible.

You can apply for federal financial aid by filling out the FAFSA and sending your results to your school. Then, it is wise to contact your financial aid office and the bursar if you have any additional questions about your tuition bill or your aid package.


Does my school (or a school I’m interested in) offer both online and in-person classes?

In the world of distance learning, colleges with physical campuses are referred to as brick-and-mortar colleges. It’s likely that if you’re enrolled (or intending to enroll) at a brick-and-mortar college, you can opt to take at least one class online during your college career. In fact, 98% of all public colleges and universities give their students online learning options, and many private colleges do as well.

Even if your college doesn’t offer online classes that have been developed by its own professors, it might still allow you to take online classes developed by third-parties or other universities that have partnered with your school. Ask your academic advisor or an admissions representative for more information.

How do I add an online class into my schedule?

You can check your school’s course catalog to see its online offerings. Once you have picked your schedule for the next semester, you can usually register for online classes just as you do for traditional classes. Work with your school’s registrar if you have any questions.

How do I add an online class to my schedule if it is not offered by my university?

Your school’s course catalog might not offer a class in every subject that interests you. Some students want to take classes in highly specialized or uncommon subjects and languages. If your school does not offer these as traditional or online courses, you may be able to take them from a third-party or partner university while still receiving college credits. If this is the case, you will often need to petition your department or registrar to let you take the outside course for credit. These petitions may involve presenting an argument to your advisor or department chair or writing an email to the faculty in the department. Each school has its own policy, so check with your advisor. Please note that taking one of your classes at a different school may affect your financial aid package, so it’s always best to go through your advisor and the financial aid department. Save all correspondence in writing.

How do I make sure that my online class counts toward my degree?

Work with your advisor to make sure that the credit you earn from your online class counts toward your degree and toward your major, if applicable. It is best to do this before you register for a class so that you do not end up taking a class that you don’t get credit for.

What if I don’t end up liking the class I registered for?

Online classes can take some getting used to. If you are sure that you want to withdraw from your class, however, you must do so before the drop date, which is the last day you can leave your class without it affecting your transcript and/or your tuition bill.

Traditional classes often have drop dates as well, but they are particularly important for online learners, who might forget about the class they don’t want to take as soon as they log out of the course platform. Still, it is important to officially drop online classes if you do not want to take them. Ask your professor or the registrar for information about the semester’s drop dates if you are not sure you want to stick with a certain class.

Page last updated: 12/2016