Online Colleges in North Carolina
Top Online Programs
North Carolina institutions are dedicated to online learning. In 2010, the state government launched an eLearning website designed to help North Carolina students locate affordable, flexible online programs. Learners in the state have an increasing number of distance education options, including programs from top universities and professional training programs.
Because of the high number of options, prospective students should research carefully to determine the best program for their needs. This guide lists the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina, along with scholarship opportunities, popular degree majors, and job outlook statistics. The guide also provides information about the financial and professional benefits of higher education, fields experiencing significant growth, and financial support available to state residents.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in North Carolina
As the table below shows, North Carolina's unemployment rate, at 3.6%, is lower than the national average. North Carolina ranks 23rd in the nation for unemployment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most popular occupations in the state include production positions, such as packaging operators and quality inspectors, and office administration positions, including accountants, receptionists, and customer service professionals. The state's highest-paying occupations are in management and specialized fields, including information technology, computer security, and industrial and civil engineering. These professions all require postsecondary education, such as professional certification or a diploma.
The 2014 employment projections from the North Carolina Department of Commerce illustrate a trend toward increased education. The department projects significant growth in healthcare services positions, which require specialized training and certification. Occupations that require higher education, such as an associate degree, doctoral degree, or professional degree, are projected to expand during the next decade. Because of this growth, learners should consider earning undergraduate and graduate degrees to improve their career prospects.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in North Carolina
Students attending online colleges in North Carolina pay about the same tuition rates as on-campus learners; however, online students typically save money on transportation and accommodation costs. Distance learners can live at home or in an area with a low cost of living and do not have to pay expenses associated with a daily commute to campus. Online learners can also maintain full-time employment, which can make paying for school more manageable.
North Carolina institutions offer many affordable online programs. As the table below illustrates, the average tuition rate at North Carolina institutions during the 2018-2019 school year is more than 30% less than the national average. Tuition rates also compare favorably against those in neighboring states. For example, South Carolina tuition rates average $5,640 for public, two-year institutions and $12,950 for public, four-year programs. Virginia rates average $5,260 for two-year schools and $13,490 for four-year schools. The average tuition rates in North Carolina are nearly 50% lower. Students can take advantage of cheap online colleges in North Carolina while receiving a high-quality education that can improve their job prospects.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in North Carolina
In every state, tuition costs at public institutions vary depending on residency status. While tuition rates in North Carolina are lower than the national average, out-of-state students pay higher tuition rates than in-state learners. Students must meet several requirements to qualify for in-state tuition rates.
To qualify for in-state status, learners must prove North Carolina residency for 12 months prior to the start of the program. Students who do not receive in-state status can apply the following year and, if approved, qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in North Carolina
With the cost of higher education increasing, students should think strategically about financial support. First, learners should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for many types of federal support simultaneously. Federal student aid includes subsidized and unsubsidized loans, need- and merit-based grants and scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Students should prioritize grants and scholarships, which do not need to be repaid, and then subsidized loans, which do not accrue interest while the student is in school.
Borrowers of federal loans who pursue certain careers may qualify for loan forgiveness. Medical professionals may receive loan forgiveness opportunities after 10 years of service. Similarly, many government branches and public institutions offer forgiveness tracks. Candidates should apply for the relevant loan forgiveness program as soon as possible to document their entire professional career. Additionally, individuals who pursue a legal education can qualify for loan repayment assistance in exchange for legal aid and public defense work.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for North Carolina College Students
To ease the financial burden of higher education, students can apply for external funding. Below are statewide and regional scholarships available to North Carolina students. Many organizations offer scholarships for students pursuing degrees in certain disciplines. Learners should also research scholarships and grants from their institution.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports North Carolinians of Asian or Pacific Islander descent who are entering the medical profession. The APIASF scholarship provides funding for the recipient's final three years of school. Applicants must be enrolled in their first year of studies.
Amount: $5,000 per year for three years
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to high school seniors from one of 14 North Carolina counties. Scholarship recipients can apply for up to $2,500 of additional funding to participate in internships and travel abroad during summer.
Amount: Up to $12,000
Who Can Apply: Cancer for College provides this scholarship to support cancer survivors pursuing higher education nationwide. Applicants must be cancer survivors enrolled in an accredited institution.
Who Can Apply: CBC offers this scholarship to improve higher education opportunities for African-Americans. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited institution, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, and demonstrate leadership skills.
Who Can Apply: This need-based scholarship supports Korean-Americans attending school in an Eastern region state, such as North Carolina. Students must be enrolled in an accredited institution, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate financial need.
Who Can Apply: Former Dixie Youth baseball players can apply for this scholarship. Applicants do not need to play baseball at the college level and are not tested on athletic ability.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports women at participating Southern institutions. While applicants may pursue any professional field, students entering the health field receive priority.
Who Can Apply: Chrissy Gallaher created this fund to support victims of violent crimes, such as rape and assault. This fund assists residents of Forsyth, Davie, and Stokes counties with relocation, home security, and counseling.
Who Can Apply: In honor of North Carolina Department Commander Colon Furr, this scholarship supports aspiring nurses dedicated to assisting the local veteran community. Students can apply through their local American Legion post.
Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens younger than 31 can apply for this scholarship, which covers up to four years of education. Recipients participate in ROTC cadet training while in school and transition to active duty after graduation.
Amount: Varies, covers up to four years
Best Majors for Online Students in North Carolina
In its 2014 Employment Projections Report, the North Carolina Department of Commerce projects employment to increase 12.6% from 2014 to 2024. The fields with the highest projected growth include healthcare, construction, and technical services. The most lucrative positions include management and administration roles.
The state demonstrates high demand for healthcare professionals; the department projects employment for healthcare support services workers and for healthcare practitioners and technicians to increase 2.7% and 2%, respectively. In addition to direct care providers to support the aging population, the healthcare services industry needs administrators and technical specialists. Online colleges and universities in North Carolina offer programs that prepare students to enter these growing professions.
NursingNursing students prepare to take advantage of the projected growth in the healthcare field. Students learn to work directly with patients and to collaborate with other medical professionals. Graduates of bachelor's programs often sit for the registered nurse exam or pursue further education to qualify to become independent nurse practitioners.
Construction ManagementConstruction is a fast-growing industry in North Carolina, and construction companies require careful administration to meet deadlines and production costs. Construction management students learn how to consolidate resources, connect with vendors, and organize workers, while gaining leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills.
StatisticsCompanies and institutions need statisticians to analyze metadata and produce reports. These professionals also collaborate with project managers and administrators to streamline processes and improve productivity. Students earning a bachelor's in mathematics with a focus in statistics explore the effects of analytics on software and computer technology.
Resources for Online College Students in North Carolina
College Foundation of North Carolina: CFNC collaborates with the state government and local institutions to provide resources for college applicants and parents. The CFNC website lists scholarship opportunities, college planning resources, and student support systems to prepare first-generation college students.
North Carolina Education Department: This government agency provides links to financial assistance resources, state certification requirements, and community college curricula. Visitors can explore resources and career networks available to North Carolina students and can review current statewide education standards.
North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities: NCICU provides information about resources and assistance students can obtain from participating institutions. Member schools comprise 36 private, nonprofit North Carolina institutions, including Duke University. Along with financial aid information, the website offers distance learning resources, including program listings.
North Carolina Community Colleges: Students interested in two-year programs can use this website to research North Carolina community colleges. Visitors can find local schools and explore online community college courses in North Carolina to plan their education.
eLearning North Carolina: This resource supports the state's online students. Visitors can learn about benefits and resources for distance students, types of available programs, and government and private assistance opportunities for online learners. The website also provides information about learning platforms and transferring credits.