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2013 Non-Profit Online College Rankings

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For-profit colleges and universities once dominated the online education space. Recently, however, non-profit schools have been embracing this alternative, creating new and modifying current programs for online learners. Now, many community colleges, state universities and even private colleges now offer online programs, greatly expanding the educational options available to prospective students.

If you prefer to pursue an online degree from a college or university that has a physical, brick-and-mortar location, we have compiled this list of the top non-profit online schools with you in mind.

Non-Profit Rankings

The table below shows our rankings of the top 20 accredited non-profit online colleges and universities, as determined by our school ranking methodology. In order to differentiate between schools that offer just a handful of online programs and schools that have adapted a larger portion of their curriculum for an online audience, we have included only those schools that offer five or more degree programs that can be completed fully online.

For each school, we have provided annual tuition, repayment rate, and retention rate, as we believe these factors can be used to evaluate the value a school will provide to a particular student. Click on a college’s name and you will be directed to the school’s information page where you can read more about available programs, accreditation, and financial aid as well as request admissions information directly from the institution.

If you would like to learn more about our ranking criteria and how we used it to make our list, please visit our methodology section.

Rank School School Type Repayment Rate Retention Rate Annual Tuition?
#1 Western Governors University Non-Profit 93% 89% Annual Tuition $5,870 - $6,140
#2 South Dakota State University Non-Profit 96% 75% Annual Tuition $9,350
#3 Iowa Central College Non-Profit 78% 59% Annual Tuition $6,360
#4 California University of Pennsylvania Online Non-Profit 92% 78% Annual Tuition $13,825
#5 Dakota State University Non-Profit 91% 60% Annual Tuition $8,612 - $9,901
#6 National University Non-Profit 93% 58% Annual Tuition $11,736
#7 South Texas College - Online Non-Profit 100% 100% Annual Tuition $7,170
#8 Chadron State College Non-Profit 91% 66% Annual Tuition $9,860
#9 Bellevue University Non-Profit 95% 17% Annual Tuition $6,300
#10 Craven Community College Non-Profit 80% 58% Annual Tuition $6,380
#11 Saddleback College Non-Profit 87% 76% Annual Tuition $4,694
#12 University of Nebraska at Kearney - Online Non-Profit 95% 79% Annual Tuition $12,190
#13 Laramie County Community College Non-Profit 85% 58% Annual Tuition $6,240
#14 Ocean County College Non-Profit 88% 67% Annual Tuition $6,120
#15 Haywood Community College Non-Profit 100% 68% Annual Tuition $8,458
#16 Northwest Technical College Non-Profit 77% 40% Annual Tuition $5,482
#17 Park University Online Non-Profit 90% 61% Annual Tuition $9,788
#18 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Non-Profit 90% 68% Annual Tuition $12,315


It is important that students make an informed decision when considering the possibility of pursuing an online education. The goal of these rankings is to create a standard by which to judge the quality of online educational institutions using criteria that is important to the average student. The data and statistics used in these rankings have been compiled from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—the primary governmental department responsible for gathering education-related data.

The following criteria were used to rank the schools (in order of weight):

  • Recommendation Rates:
    Student feedback was the primary criterion used to rank online schools. We examined all reviews, by institution, on our comprehensive reviews database and adjusted rankings based on how students reported feeling about the school and/or program.
  • Cost of Tuition (including textbooks):
    College tuition is a deciding factor for many students when choosing a school. Our rankings take into account this consideration and weigh a college’s overall tuition heavily.
  • Retention Rate:
    According to FAFSA, a school’s retention rate is the percentage of a school’s "first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year". Retention rate is an effective indicator of the overall quality of an institution. An online college with a poor retention rate likely indicates student dissatisfaction.
  • Repayment Rate:
    Compiled by the U.S. Government, this metric shows the percentage of students that pay back their loans within the allotted time and without resorting to default. Considering the current economic situation, this statistic is particularly useful.
  • Accreditation:
    Regional accreditation is widely regarded as the most selective and prestigious of all accreditation types. Students may also transfer credits between regionally accredited institutions more easily. All schools on our 2013 online college rankings are regionally accredited.
  • For-Profit vs. Not-For-Profit Status:
    For-profit schools educational institutions are run by private, profit-seeking companies while non-profit schools are more typical of traditional private and public colleges and universities. This metric was not weighted in our calculations for rankings, but is provided in our data tables. To learn more about for-profit institutions, please visit the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

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Our tuition numbers reflect data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics.