Online Colleges in Kentucky

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Updated October 21, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Kentucky colleges provide degrees and certifications that offer graduates advantages over competing job applicants. Since Kentucky holds a comparatively high unemployment rate, this quality proves invaluable when preparing residents for employment.

Out-of-state learners can also benefit from attending Kentucky institutions. For instance, students from some states may qualify for reduced tuition, depending on their schools. Kentucky shares borders with Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, so degree seekers from these states can attend campus events and fulfill any on-campus degree components with less travel. According to the World Atlas, only two states surpass Kentucky's number of bordering states.

This page explores some of these factors along with career projections, financial aid, and professional organizations for Kentucky students.

Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Kentucky

Kentucky's unemployment rate represents a larger population than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Workers in Kentucky also earned over $8,000 below the average U.S. income. These numbers indicate harsher-than-average employment traits within the state, so residents should explore further credentials to stand out from the competition. Candidates can gain this advantage by earning degrees through accredited online colleges and universities.

The Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2024 reports that in 2014, median salaries for candidates who were at least 25 and held a bachelor's surpassed the state's average earnings for October 2018. Specifically, employees with bachelor's degrees earned a median of $43,798, while candidates with master's, doctoral, and professional degrees boasted median earnings of $53,222. The latter median exceeds the national average of October 2018, which indicates that an advanced degree allows Kentucky residents to earn as much as employees in other states.

Some professions also require a college degree in Kentucky, including accountants, dieticians, computer systems analysts, and preschool teachers. Many degree-requiring industries boast high numbers of annual openings, such as lawyers, pharmacists, operations managers, elementary school teachers, and school social workers. Given Kentucky's higher-than-average unemployment rate, Kentucky residents can improve employment chances by pursuing degrees related to these positions.

Unemployment Rate, August 2018

Kentucky 4.5%
United States 3.8%

Source: BLS

Annual Mean Wage, May 2017

Kentucky $42,410
United States $50,620

Source: BLS

Cost of Online Colleges in Kentucky

The average cost of accredited online colleges in Kentucky exceeds national averages for public institutions. Students at two-year Kentucky schools, for instance, pay nearly $2,000 more in tuition and fees, and four-year Kentucky learners pay approximately $500 more than candidates in other states. Generally, on-campus and online programs in Kentucky include similar tuition rates.

These numbers represent only tuition and fees. Other expenses, such as commuting and textbooks, increase costs. Students should think about these factors, along with general living expenses, to ensure schools fit within reasonable budgets. This consideration helps learners prevent years of student loan debt and keeps them from falling behind on tuition payments, which can prevent future enrollment.

To save money, candidates can choose more affordable Kentucky online colleges and universities. For instance, some institutions require fewer fees, and tuition rates vary by school. As examples, Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky provides free education for students in certain counties in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and Berea College supplies a no-tuition scholarship for all learners.

Students can also save money by completing general education requirements at cheaper two-year schools before transferring. Some four-year institutions, such as Midway University and the University of Louisville, provide scholarships for students transferring in this manner.

Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year Public Four-Year
Kentucky $5,310 $10,710
U.S. Average $3,660 $10,230

Source: The College Board

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Kentucky

For tax purposes, public schools may charge out-of-state students higher tuition than in-state candidates. Essentially, resident learners pay state taxes, which help fund state schools. For this reason, those students experience lower tuition, while nonresident learners do not contribute in this manner and endure higher charges. This detail also explains why private schools often charge the same tuition for out-of-state candidates since those institutions do not depend on government funding.

Students who cannot afford the average out-of-state tuition can apply to schools with lower nonresident expenses. Candidates in certain areas, such as Ohio and Indiana, may also qualify for discount tuition at certain Kentucky schools.

Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year In-State Public Four-Year Out-of-State
Kentucky $10,710 $24,730
U.S. Average $10,230 $26,290

Source: The College Board

Financial Aid in Kentucky

To assist with educational costs, students can apply for federal aid, which includes grants, work-study awards, and loans. Grants and work-study do not typically require repayment. Students receiving loans agree to repay the funds, but they also may benefit from loan forgiveness programs. For example, teachers may qualify for the teacher loan forgiveness program to remove as much as $17,500 of debt.

Learners can obtain scholarships without repaying funds, provided they fulfill all scholarship stipulations. A scholarship, for example, may require candidates to work in a specific area after graduating to bypass repayment. Schools and private organizations deliver scholarships based on academic achievements, athletic ability, location, ethnicity, major, and personal history.

Employers may provide tuition reimbursement plans. Students receiving this assistance may need to pay college costs up front, with the company agreeing to reimburse funds. Organizations may insist recipients maintain minimum GPAs and complete specific courses or programs to continue earning funds.

Kentucky students should consult the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) to explore state-specific programs, such as the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship. To apply for financial aid, students should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17

Kentucky $1,320
U.S. Average $820

Source: The College Board

Scholarships and Grants for Kentucky College Students

Students interested in taking affordable online college classes in Kentucky can explore scholarships and grants geared toward state learners. These funds may focus on candidates at certain schools or programs, while others extend toward all students within the state. Degree seekers can ask financial aid departments about possible scholarships, search online for options, and consider the following opportunities.

Best Majors for Online Students in Kentucky

According to the BLS, many high-employment careers in Kentucky are available within the production and manufacturing industries, which includes construction workers, welders, and carpenters. Other high-employment professions include security guards, truck drivers, cashiers, food preparers, janitors, waiters, and electricians. Candidates may enter some of these professions with degrees from trade schools or high school diplomas.

Other high-employment opportunities may require college experience, such as certain medical careers. Registered nurses (RNs), in particular, boast employment of 44,410 in the state. Additional high-employment careers include elementary school teachers, accountants, teacher assistants, pharmacy technicians, and community service workers.

This employment information can guide learners on which majors to pursue. For example, the motion picture projection field offers very low employment in Kentucky, so candidates interested in career security can rule out related majors.

For high employment chances, candidates should consider the following majors at the best online colleges in Kentucky.

Elementary Education

These programs can lead to teaching licensure that qualifies individuals to educate K-5 students. The BLS projects 7% growth by 2026 for this field, and Kentucky currently boasts nearly 19,000 field positions. Beyond teaching, graduates may obtain jobs in childcare, including more than 11,000 current Kentucky positions.


The medical field provides lucrative careers in Kentucky, such as RNs, nursing assistants, and personal care aides. All of these occupations include employment numbers over 16,000. The BLS projects that RN positions, in particular, will increase by a faster-than-average rate of 15% by 2026, so candidates can feel confident about the field's future.


Accountants and auditors in Kentucky boast employment numbers over 10,000, and the BLS projects a faster-than-average 10% increase in national positions by 2026. These employers earn, on average, over $60,000 per year in Kentucky. This major also relates to bookkeeping, where careers total over 20,000 in Kentucky.

Resources for Online College Students in Kentucky

Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority: KHEAA provides tips for choosing colleges and enrollment preparation in Kentucky. For instance, candidates can see the state's pre-college curriculum and browse state-based financial aid. Other information on the site includes transfer guidance, nutrition tips, and career advice. KHEAA also provides video assistance for military students and the financial aid process.

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education: Programs coordinated by this organization include Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs for K-12 students, Kentucky Skills U for adults, and the Kentucky Virtual Library that offers resources for both age groups. The council also provides financial assistance by introducing learners to the Academic Common Market (ACM) for tuition reciprocity between states.

Kentucky Educational Television: This organization provides academic insights for children and adults through television, internet, and mobile devices. Covered topics include arts, public affairs, health, science, and history. KET also provides free early childhood education workshops and partners with schools such as Eastern Kentucky University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation: Students taking out loans in Kentucky may encounter KHESLC. This corporation connects state learners with loans and resources related to college funding, in addition to providing information on loan repayment, including installment plans and a payment calculator.

Southern Regional Education Board: SREB involves over a dozen states, including Kentucky, and promotes alliances between schools. For instance, SREB allows member states to participate in the ACM to engage in tuition reciprocity. SREB endeavors to increase college graduation rates and supplies other programs that help high school students reach higher education, such as Go Alliance.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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