Florida students have a bright future! The Sunshine state ranks first in the nation for higher education by US News & World Report.
The rankings look at factors such as tuition costs and graduate rates, areas where the state really excels.
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Florida has a lot to offer, and the ranking serves as inspiration to boost spending on financial aid and increasing and continued improvement.
Overview of Higher Education in Florida
Florida is home to 181 colleges and universities. A 2018-2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NES) indicates that of the 181 institutions, 43 are public, 65 are non-profit, and 73 are for-profit.
Florida’s tuition rates are among the lowest in the country. The NCES reports that in-state students pay, on average, just $4,443 to attend a 4-year intuition. Out-of-state students pay around $18,456. That’s $4769 less than the national average for in-state, and $7926 less for out-of-state students.
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On top of low tuition rates, students can look forward to excellent financial aid opportunities. Florida is one of the top in the nation when it comes to financial aid awards.
Florida students are also supported by the state’s involvement in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which encourages resource sharing among the 16 participating states. Through this program, Florida students can enroll in out-of-state programs in nearby states while paying in-state rates.
About Online Colleges in Florida
Florida is one of the nation’s leaders in online learning. In 2018 the NCES reported that 18.8% of Florida’s higher education students were enrolled in fully online degree programs. Another 25.5% of students were participating in some combination of online and on-campus courses.
Most of Florida’s 181 institutions offer online learning opportunities. One of the most impressive programs can be found at University of Florida, where there are over 500 online college courses available. A number of programs exist to help support distance education within the state.
Through the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC), online students have access to academic advising, library resources, career readiness and distance learning resources. Tools and training materials are also provided for distance educators and staff. One of FLVC’s star services, FloridaShines, acts as a hub for delivering innovative educational services that operate at all of the state’s institutions.
Another supportive resource, the Florida Distance Learning Association, brings together educational institutions, government agencies, community groups and more to help share information and advance distance learning.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Florida
The FAFSA opens the door to federal financial aid, and many state and private financial aid programs require it as well. To complete the application, you will need to answer questions about your income and assets, as well as those of your parents (unless you’re considered independent). The information you provide will determine how much and what type of financial aid you are offered.
You may begin to fill out the FAFSA starting October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college. The earlier you complete it, the sooner the college(s) of your choice can offer you a financial aid package, and the more funds you are likely to receive since the money is awarded on a first come, first served basis.
The FFAA, also available starting on October 1st, is a separate application that applies only to the scholarships and grants administered by the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA). OSFA handles about a dozen programs, several of which offer sizable, renewable financial aid packages. Here are just a few examples:
Bright Futures Scholarship Program – Three merit-based scholarships with varying GPA and ACT/SAT score requirements; Awards vary per credit hour, renewable (with merit requirements)
Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) Grant – Need-based aid for students enrolled full-time at an eligible institution and not studying theology or divinity; Amount varies each year, renewable up to 9 semesters (with merit requirements)
First Generation Matching Grant Program – Need-based aid for students whose parents have not earned a baccalaureate degree; Award shall not exceed student’s unmet financial need
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José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund – Need and merit based scholarship for students of Spanish culture attending public or eligible private institution; $2000 per year, renewable (with financial need and merit requirements)
Each individual school may have slightly different requirements for recipients of these grants and scholarships. In addition to these statewide opportunities, schools may also have other aid available, which you can learn about by contacting their financial aid office.
While the programs above are dependent upon financial need and/or academic excellence, scholarships can be offered for a variety of other things, such as the region you live in, a peculiar hobby, or the certain course of study you’ve chosen.
Here are some unique scholarships exclusively available to Florida residents:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|Arts for Life! Scholarship||$1000; 25 awards|
|College Fund of Pinellas County Grant||$1000 per year up to $4,000|
|Right Fit Foundation Scholarship||$5000|
|South Florida Fair Scholarship||Varies / Multiple awards|
Opportunities like these can be found on scholarship search sites such as Fastweb.com, where you can enter basic information about yourself and be matched with dozens of scholarships.
List of Online Colleges in Florida
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Broward College’s online degree programs are created with working adults in mind. The school aims to provide students with a rigorous education in less time and for less money. Most courses have little or no textbook costs. Students can choose from over 70 programs, and many courses are accelerated. Degrees and certificates are offered in fields like health science, business, education, and more.
Broward College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has made distance learning a possibility for the past 25 years. U.S. News & World Reports has ranked Embry-Riddle in the top five online bachelor’s programs since 2013. Students can choose between ten undergraduate and five graduate programs, each with 9 week sessions. Fields of study offered include aviation maintenance, international business, and engineering.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Atlantic University is the most diverse public university in Florida. Its faculty is dedicated to giving students an education that encourages creativity and excellence. FAU was named one of the best online universities for bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News & World Report. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in nursing, business, and more.
FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Gulf Coast University’s online programs are designed to help working students get their degrees faster. FGCU offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and professional certificates. For bachelor’s programs, students can’t complete core classes online. Master’s programs are entirely online. Fields of study offered include criminal justice, educational leadership, health science, and legal studies.
FGCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida International University has an R1 Carnegie ranking and has offered online programs for 20 years. Online students can expect to get the same quality education as their on-campus peers. Courses are asynchronous. Students can earn undergraduate, graduate, or 4+1 degrees. Fields of study offered include Asian studies, crime science, and disaster management.
Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida State University has received many accolades, including being named the preeminent research university in Florida. Online students can receive the same renowned education as those receiving their education on campus. Students may earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees online. FSU offers degrees in fields like art education, computer science, and public safety and security.
Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Hodges University has offered online programs since 1995, and its faculty continuously modifies programs to keep up with best practices.
Students may be able to transfer some credits into their program, and the school offers an online form to help students figure out how many credits they may transfer. Hodges U offers online and hybrid programs for associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in fields like legal studies, applied psychology, and accounting.
Hodges University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Jacksonville University encourages students to take an active part in their education. The school aims to offer courses that provide authentic experiences that can help students shape their careers. JU offers one online bachelor’s degree program, an RN to BS in Nursing. There are several graduate degrees available in fields like science health informatics, business administration, instructional design, and choreography.
Jacksonville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lynn University aims to deliver a unique, student-centered education. Lynn offers accelerated online programs to help students get their degrees faster.
Students may be able to receive credits for work experience and earn their degrees even faster. Programs are offered for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields like marketing, environmental policy and management, and aviation operations. The school utilizes iPads for much of the coursework.
Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Nova Southeastern University offers online degrees and courses taught at regional campuses for students who don’t live near the main campus. Students can earn a degree fully online, although some programs do require some time on campus. NSU offers many online degree programs in fields like biomedical sciences, college student affairs, and psychology.
Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Rasmussen University has offered degrees for the past 20 years. The school has over 50 entirely online degree programs. Many classes have live, online sessions but are recorded so that students can view them anytime. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in subjects like data analytics and graphic design.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Saint Leo University is a Catholic-based liberal arts school that welcomes students of all faiths. The school offers online degree programs and has regional schools around the country.
Saint Leo strives to provide all students the same quality of education, no matter how they choose to attend. The school offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in digital media, homeland security, early childhood development, and more.
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeastern University is dedicated to helping students along their career paths. SEU offers over 100 degrees and over 40 online degree programs. Online classes are asynchronous, and each one is 8 weeks long. Many programs are fully online. Students can earn undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Fields of study offered include digital media and design, ministry, and kinesiology.
Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
St. Petersburg College’s online programs are designed to allow students to learn in a way that works for them. Students can choose between virtual courses that meet online or asynchronous courses. Prospective students can take a free course sampler. SPC offers over 50 online programs for associate or bachelor’s degrees. Fields of study offered include accounting and cybersecurity.
SPC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
St. Thomas University is rooted in the Catholic faith. The school strives to provide students with a solid education while also helping them grow in their values. STU’s online programs are designed with busy students in mind. Courses are delivered asynchronously, so students can work on their own schedules. Fields of study offered include healthcare, business, and theology.
St. Thomas University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Central Florida is dedicated to helping its online students succeed. Each student gets a success coach that offers one-on-one support throughout the program. UCF students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees online. Fields of study offered include reading education, optics and photonics, international and global studies, and FinTech.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Florida was ranked #1 best online college for bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News and World Report. The school offers degrees that can be earned fully online, and online students earn the same degrees as their on-campus counterparts. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in a variety of fields, including biostatistics, entrepreneurship, gerontology, and sports and media journalism.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of North Florida’s online degree programs offers asynchronous courses to provide students with flexibility. Nursing Degree Search named UNF the number one nursing doctoral degree provider. Many courses are fully online, while others are mostly online. Students also have the option to take accelerated courses. Degrees are offered in business analytics, health administration, and more.
The University of North Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of South Florida offers online programs to meet the needs of different types of learners. Students can learn from anywhere in the world with internet connection and can choose between undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The school’s bachelor’s programs are set up to be degree completion, meaning students will need to complete core courses before enrolling. Graduate degree fields of study include music education and global sustainability.
The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of West Florida’s online degree programs allow students to work at their own pace. The school aims to meet the needs and goals of a diverse group of learners. UNF online students can pursue bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees or professional certificates. Fields of study offered include public health, curriculum and instruction, and geographic information science.
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Webber International University is a non-profit school with accolades from several different publications. It’s one of only seven schools to be recognized for its business program. Webber encourages strong bonds between its faculty and students and expects hard work and motivation from its students. It offers online programs for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields like psychology, international business, and accounting.
Webber International University is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Students in the sunshine state pay some of the country’s lowest tuition rates, and then save even more thanks to the numerous grants and scholarships offered by the state.
They also have several state organizations committed to supporting them through their education and into their careers, with online and on-campus resources. Florida is a state that’s committed to education, and the country is taking notice!