Utah offers a wide variety of online programs through its public and private universities as well as community and technical colleges. Whether you’re a resident of Utah or not, you can earn an online degree or certificate from a highly reputable and accredited Utah college. But where and how do you start? This guide is here to answer that question, with lots of information to help you find the online college that’s right for you.
|What are the best accredited online colleges in Utah?|
|What are the best affordable online colleges in Utah?|
Online education has grown rapidly in Utah. There are seven four-year public universities and seven public community or applied technical colleges in the state, most of which have online learning opportunities. Leading the way is the University of Utah’s UOnline program, which currently offers six undergraduate degrees, six graduate degrees, six certificates and hundreds of individual courses either fully or partially online.
If you’re looking to attend a private college, Utah is home to seven private non-profit colleges and universities that offer online programs. The largest is Brigham Young University, which has two distinct online options: BYU Online, offering semester-based online courses that follow the school’s regular academic calendar and BYU Independent Study, where classes are available to anyone – including high school students – and can be started and completed anytime within a one-year period.
Paying for college and debt after graduation are big concerns for most students. Tuition alone can be a barrier for some, particularly residents outside of Utah who have to pay out-of-state tuition and fees to attend a Utah college. Take a look at the average tuition costs for colleges in Utah:
Public 4-year in-state: $6,140
Public 4-year out-of-state: $18,501
Private 4-year: $7,571
Public 2-year in-state: $3,569
Public 2-year out-of-state: $11,337
Source: National Center for Education Statistics (2015-2016)
In most cases, Utah residents will pay the same in-state tuition rates for online programs as their on-campus counterparts. Tuition at public colleges is substantially higher for out-of-state students, but some may be eligible for lower rates. That’s because Utah is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an organization consisting of 15 western states (plus Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) that offer discounted tuition through three programs:
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE): Through the WUE, out-of-state undergrads pay 150% of the in-state tuition rate for degree programs at participating Utah institutions.
Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP): The WGRP allows masters, PhD and graduate certificate students residing in WICHE member states to pay in-state tuition if enrolled in a graduate program at a participating university.
Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP): The PSEP enables students from 10 WICHE states to pay reduced tuition for select professional healthcare programs. The student typically pays in-state tuition while their home state pays a “support fee” to the school the student attends.
It’s important to note not all online programs in Utah participate in WICHE, and other restrictions may apply. To find out whether an academic program you’re interested in is eligible for WICHE reduced tuition, contact the program directly.
1. Most Utah residents will pay in-state tuition when they enroll in an online degree or certificate program offered by Utah colleges and universities.
2. Non-residents who live in a WICHE member state will pay a discounted tuition rate for select online programs offered by participating Utah schools.
Financial aid is available to all qualifying students pursuing a degree at an accredited college, whether the degree is online on on-campus. Applying for federal financial aid requires filling out and submitting the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Students need to apply the year before they start college and applications can be submitted from October 1 through June 30. It’s best to submit the FAFSA as early as possible since many state-sponsored aid and even scholarship and grant awards are based on FAFSA information and may have deadlines earlier than June 30. For example, the University of Utah requires students to complete their FAFSA and financial aid file by February 1 for all need-based funding programs.
To learn more about federal and state financial aid requirements and deadlines, contact your online program’s financial aid office.
To be eligible for federal financial aid, a student must:
Demonstrate financial need (for most programs)
Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
Possess a valid Social Security number (except for students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program (Direct Loan Program recipients must be enrolled at least half-time)
Be registered for the Selective Service, if male and not currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces
Certify that he or she is not in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal student grant, and will use their aid for educational purposes
Possess a high school diploma or GED certificate, or have completed a state-approved homeschool program
In addition, the applicant must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) to continue receiving federal aid. Every Utah school establishes its own SAP policies. As an example, to maintain SAP at Utah Valley University, students must (among other requirements):
Maintain a 2.0 GPA for undergraduate students (3.0 for graduates)
Successfully complete 67% of credit hours attempted for undergrads (80% for grads)
For undergrads, complete their academic program within 150% of the published length of time for that program. Grad students may receive financial aid for up to 45 credit hours
UVU students who fail to meet any one SAP requirement will lose their financial aid eligibility. But there are policies in place that allow a UVU student to regain eligibility. Check with your online program’s financial aid office for detailed information on its SAP policies.
Another great source of student loans is the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), a state government agency that administers student loans originating under the Department of Education’s William D. Ford Direct Loan Program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program.
After loans, scholarships and grants are usually the largest sources of financial aid. The big benefit of scholarships and grants is that, unlike loans, they aren’t borrowed money so students don’t need to pay them back. Eligibility requirements vary but common factors include outstanding academic achievement, enrollment in a particular field of study, artistic or athletic talent, geographic location, or involvement in charitable or civic activities. Financial need can also be a factor, particularly when it comes to grants.
Scholarships and grants are available to Utah online students from a wide range of sources, both public and private. Some are limited to students enrolled at a particular college, some are open to applicants from any college. Still others are earmarked for Utah residents only. For example, the State of Utah sponsors two merit-based scholarship opportunities for its residents:
New Century Scholarship: The New Century Scholarship program provides funds to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at one of eight eligible Utah colleges. To qualify, a student must earn an associate’s degree from a Utah System of Higher Education school or complete a specific math or science curriculum while in high school.
Regent’s Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to Utah high school students who prepared for college by completing a stated core course of study and by saving for college. Recipients must enroll in and complete 15 credit hours in the fall semester immediately after high school graduation, and must maintain certain academic standards to continue receiving scholarship funds.
Scholarship amounts for both programs vary, and there are other important application requirements and deadlines that must be met, so be sure to carefully review all necessary application information.
The application process is different for each award, so it’s important to review all requirements carefully. However, most awards usually ask students to do at least the following:
Fill out application form
Submit all requested high school and college transcripts, and other academic, financial and personal information
Collect and submit of letters of recommendation
Complete of a short essay on a given topic
Many scholarships and grants also use information from the FAFSA to determine eligibility, so students are advised to submit their FAFSA form as soon as possible.
There’s a wide variety of excellent distance learning opportunities across Utah but how to you know which one is best for you? Start by deciding what type of “best” you’re looking for, like the best accredited online colleges in Utah or the best affordable online colleges in Utah. Then check out the rankings below, where we rank online colleges in Utah based on important factors such as tuition, graduation rate, placement services and financial aid.
Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution
At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)
At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)
Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)
Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)
Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:
Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates
Count and breadth of online programs available
6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)
% of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college
Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college
Availability of academic/career counseling services
Availability of job placement services for students and graduates
3-year loan default rate
AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*
*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.
Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.
Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Utah State University||Logan, UT||100.00||$5,454||13||56%||22:1||51%||no||yes||yes|
|2||Southern Utah University||Cedar City, UT||98.32||$5,416||9||70%||18:1||41%||yes||no||yes|
|3||Weber State University||Ogden, UT||97.91||$4,326||5||60%||21:1||43%||yes||yes||yes|
|4||Utah Valley University||Orem, UT||97.05||$4,542||4||36%||22:1||22%||yes||yes||yes|
|5||Stevens-Henager College||Murray, UT||95.44||$18,021||11||75%||27:1||63%||yes||yes||yes|
|6||Independence University||Salt Lake City, UT||95.21||$18,021||12||71%||32:1||100%||yes||yes||yes|
|7||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT||91.38||$5,780||50||N/A||41:1||24%||no||no||yes|
At the end of the day, the best online college is the one that checks off all the boxes on your list of requirements. Once you’ve decided on your field of study and have an idea of the degree you want to pursue, it’s time to find out which schools meet your criteria. The questions and answers below should help get you started:
Yes, in most cases, colleges in Utah accept credits earned at other accredited postsecondary institutions, whether located within or outside the state. However, every school has its own policies on transfer credits, so it’s important to understand those policies before enrolling. With TransferUtah.org, the State of Utah simplified the transfer credit process for students considering one of its eight public colleges, as well as private partners Brigham Young University, Westminster College and the LDS Business School. Through TransferUtah.org, students can check the status for hundreds of courses transferred between schools within the network.
In some cases, students may be able to earn college credits for prior knowledge, training or work experience through competency-based education (CBE) programs. For example, University of Utah students may be able to get credit for military training. Students may also be able to earn credit for life experience by taking a final examination for a course through the university’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Another example is Southern Utah University’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, where students can create an e-portfolio to demonstrate knowledge gained outside of the classroom.
To learn more about transfer credits or earning credits through competency-based education, contact the admissions office for each online program you’re considering.
That’s entirely up to you. One of the benefits of online learning is that students have the flexibility to pursue a degree from anywhere. However, as a Utah resident, it’s important to keep in mind that out-of-state online programs can come with a much higher tuition price tag than those in your home state.
Start by identifying your academic, career and personal goals. Then consider practical matters such as cost and time commitments, school reputation, support services provided, etc. Most importantly, though, look at programs that are properly accredited, such as those mentioned in this guide.