Online Colleges in Virginia
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The Old Dominion State boasts a diverse and thriving economy. For example, the federal government is the state's top employer, while the suburban Washington D.C. corridor is lined with technology companies and the headquarters of large military suppliers like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Meanwhile, Virginia's south shore maintains a deep-rooted shipbuilding industry; seafood harvesting thrives along the state's Atlantic coast; and farms -- particularly tobacco farms -- still dot Virginia's rural areas.
College graduates face a robust job market in this state, which features the ninth-lowest unemployment rate (2.8%) in the country. Virginia also ranks as the fifth most business-friendly state in the country. College graduates enter a job market with numerous employment opportunities generated by the state's highly-educated workforce and light regulatory environment. Earning a bachelor's degree at one of Virginia's more than 80 four-year colleges and universities provides you an edge in a dynamic and competitive marketplace.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Virginia
According to May 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of all jobs in the country were in sectors that required applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. In Virginia, this number was 22.3%, while 32.2% of jobs in Washington D.C. require at least a bachelor's degree -- the highest in the nation. In short, the Virginia job market attracts a well-educated workforce that creates plenty of professional opportunities for bachelor's degree holders.
The Virginia Employment Commission projects three industries in Virginia to see the largest growth employment through 2024: healthcare and social assistance (97,087 jobs); professional, scientific, and technical services (70,701 jobs); and educational services (42,378 jobs). Most of these industries require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in their respective fields. At the same time, careers that do not require a bachelor's degree -- such as farm workers, postal carriers, and bank tellers -- continue to experience a downward trajectory. Whether you complete an undergraduate program from a Virginia college online or on-campus, a bachelor's degree opens a myriad of professional options in the Virginia job market.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Virginia
As the table below highlights, the average cost of a four-year college education in Virginia is about 30% higher than the national average. The state's high cost of living partly contributes to this difference; according to U.S. News & World Report, Virginia is the 20th most expensive state in which to live. Expenses such as teacher salaries, maintenance costs, and student services simply cost more in a state like Virginia. Students pursuing their online bachelor's degree in the state are often charged similar tuition to their on-campus counterparts. However, online students often save considerable amounts of money by not having to shoulder additional housing, transportation, and food costs. In a state like Virginia, these savings add up.
Despite the state's higher tuition average, Virginia has the second-highest completion rate among students pursuing four-year degrees, and nearly 37% of Virginia residents 25 years or older hold a bachelor's degree. Businesses regularly cite the state's highly educated workforce as one of the main reasons for establishing a base in Virginia, which in turn keeps the state's unemployment rate well below the national average.
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 Virginia
The table below reflects the in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for Virginia as compared to the national average. Most in-state students pay lower tuition rates to attend a public state college or university, as their tax dollars help support the school system in their home state. On average, out-of-state students pay tuition rates approximately 150% higher than their in-state counterparts.
Some states require out-of-state students to take up residence in the state for at least one year -- and pay out-of-state tuition for that year -- before qualifying to pay lower in-state tuition. Additionally, students should note that there are schools that charge out-of-state online students the same out-of-state tuition as on-campus non-resident enrollees. Remember to take these factors into consideration before you make a final decision.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Virginia
The process of applying for financial aid in the U.S. higher education system begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you hope to receive any federal financial assistance, such as grants or scholarships, work-study compensation, and/or student loans, you must begin by completing the FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) allots roughly $120 billion each year to assist college students in their pursuit of higher education. Completing the FAFSA is free, and allows students to access the largest source of federal financial assistance for college education. Private financial aid providers also use information gained from the FAFSA to determine an applicant's eligibility for certain private funding programs.
In addition to scholarships and grants, Virginia supports a state loan repayment program (VA-SLRP) for behavioral health, dental, medical, and pharmaceutical professionals who serve for at two years in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. Similar opportunities exist for legal practitioners. As the table below demonstrates, Virginia's state grant aid per full-time equivalent undergraduate student is higher than the national average. In addition, Virginia is one of only 10 states that allot more than 20% of its funding to grant aid for students -- further proof of the state's commitment to higher education.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Virginia College Students
The cost of a U.S. college education continues to climb, which makes it increasingly difficult for a typical American family to afford. Scholarships and grants provide an excellent alternative to student loans because they do not have to be repaid. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) administers several scholarship programs for students attending a Virginia college online or onsite. In addition, private organizations and groups also provide various types of financial assistance for Virginia college students.
Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from immigrant students who are graduating from a high school in D.C., Maryland or Virginia. The applicant must be foreign-born or have both parents born outside the United States.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must possess an excellent academic high school record and demonstrate financial need. Students must submit their scholarship application through their high school principals.
Amount: $2,000 per year for four years
Who Can Apply: This scholarship program accepts essay submissions from students enrolled in a four-year Virginia college or university. Applicants must submit an analytical essay about the character or legacy of General Robert E. Lee or General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Amount: First place: $12,000; second place: $6,000; third place: $3,000
Who Can Apply: High school seniors from specific Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. school districts write a 1000-word essay or produce a two-minute video to convince an audience to become organ or tissue donors.
Amount: First place, $3,000; second place, $2,000; third place, $1,000
Who Can Apply: Graduates of an associate program from an accredited Virginia two-year institution with a 3.0 GPA whose expected family contribution is $12,000 or less. Applicants must be accepted to a four-year college or university in the state.
Amount: Up to $1,000, with an additional $1,000 for students pursuing a degree in the nursing or STEM field
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Virginia residents with demonstrable financial need and enrolled at least half-time in an approved associate, bachelor's, or certificate program at a Virginia two- or four-year institution.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be admitted to a two- or four-year Virginia public college or university, have at least a 2.5 GPA, and demonstrable financial need as determined by the receiving school.
Who Can Apply: This program is open to dependents and spouses of MIA, POW, killed in action, or 90% Disabled in War-time Service veterans. Dependents must be between the ages of 16 and 29.
Amount: Waiver of full tuition and required fees, plus annual stipend of up to $1,800
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled full-time or part-time in an accredited undergraduate or graduate teacher education program, and pursue a career in one of the top five critical shortage teaching areas.
Amount: Up to $10,000
Who Can Apply: Virginia residents enrolled full-time at a private, accredited, and nonprofit college or university are eligible for VTAG. Students cannot pursue religious training or a theological degree with this award.
Best Majors for Online Students in Virginia
The Virginia Employment Commission projects an overall 9.3% job growth for the state through 2024, which is higher than the most recent projected national average of 7%. Those industries projected to have the largest growth in employment include healthcare and social assistance; professional, technical, and scientific services; and education services. Virginia's higher education system consists of several colleges and universities that offer rigorous online degrees in these fields, giving both traditional and nontraditional students alike the chance to earn their degree. Each of the programs listed below can lead to numerous career possibilities in their respective fields. The path you ultimately choose largely depends on your academic interests and professional goals.
Bachelor of Science in NursingIn the Virginia healthcare industry, the nursing profession is expected to add the most jobs by 2024. An aging baby boomer population contributes to this increased demand for nurses across specialty subfields in the state. Completing a BSN prepares graduates for this lucrative, in-demand profession.
Bachelor of Science in Software EngineeringApplication and systems software developers and computer systems analysts are the main drivers of job growth in the professional, technical, and scientific services sector. An undergraduate degree in this field provides an excellent foundation for specialization in subfields such as modeling and simulation, or digital and embedded systems.
Bachelor of Arts in EducationAn education degree makes available several career paths in Virginia and throughout the U.S. In most parts of the country, teachers need to be certified or licensed before they can practice. Licensing requirements vary between states; some require graduates complete additional courses, while others require a minimum number of classroom experience hours.
Resources for Online College Students in Virginia
1-2-3 Go!: SCHEV administers this program with the Educational Credit Management Corporation. This three-step program prepares Virginia's middle school and high school students for college by sponsoring several informative College Nights. These informational sessions are held throughout the state, and provide students and parents information about attending and paying for college.
GoOpenVA: This program is a statewide initiative between the VDOE and Virginia's school divisions to promote the use of licensed open-source educational resources. GoOpenVa provides students and teachers with access to interactive content and frequently updated data to increase student engagement and improve retention.
State Council for Higher Education for Virginia: SCHEV consolidates several items related to higher education in Virginia, such as maintaining an updated directory of all the colleges and universities in the state. The organization also administers programs like Gear Up Virginia, which addresses the needs of low-income families and their communities.
Virginia's Community Colleges: The site provides easy access to a range of relevant information about community colleges in Virginia. Visitors can search for on-campus or online college courses in the Virginia community college system, information about financial aid programs, the college application process, tuition and fees, and transfer policies.
Virginia Department of Education: The VDOE website contains a trove of information about education initiatives in Virginia, such as career and technical education, licensure, professional learning and development, special education, and school profiles. The site also maintains a directory of Virginia schools and an electronic job bank for teachers and school support personnel.