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The primary concern for most students looking for an online MBA is cost. Prospective students are savvy enough to search beyond the cheapest online MBA programs in terms of tuition. What they really want is a good return on their investment. A truly affordable online MBA program delivers a high-quality education at a cost that won’t saddle students with years of debt. A school’s tuition rate is not the only indicator of its affordability, and it is important to understand all of the factors that make an online MBA program affordable.

An affordable program will increase your earning potential without burdening you with excessive debt. However, not all online MBAs are the same. With this in mind, we ranked the 10 most affordable online MBA programs of 2018. We also explore the costs of such programs and the factors that make them a good investment.

The programs ranked below are the 10 most affordable online MBA programs for 2018. This list is a great resource for students beginning their search for online MBA programs.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description
1

University of Wyoming

Location Laramie, WY Tuition Tuition $7,530 % Receiving Financial Aid 36% Student Population 12,648 School Type Public

The University of Wyoming offers one of the cheapest online MBAs in the country. The school has an energy concentration for elearners who are also working in the energy industry. Students in the 39-credit online MBA in energy concentration complete courses in supply chain management in the energy industry, energy finance: project evaluation, and fundamentals of accounting in the energy industry. Applicants must have a minimum of five years of professional experience, at least three of which must be in a supervisory or managerial role. Students must also submit GMAT or GRE scores; test scores may be waived if the applicant has extensive work experience. The online MBA starts every fall term and follows a cohort model. The program can be completed in 24 months. Students pursuing the general MBA program must earn at least 30 credits. The program is AACSB accredited.


Concentrations
  • Energy
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2

University of Nevada-Reno

Location Reno, NV Tuition Tuition $30,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 40% Student Population 20,898 School Type Public

University of Nevada at Reno’s executive online MBA program is taught through a 12-course, 36-credit curriculum, which can be completed in about two years. The cohort program only accepts applications for the fall term. Every class lasts 12 weeks. Courses include personal branding, communications technology, and managing organizations in a global economy. In order to be accepted to UNR’s affordable online MBA program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, have at least a 2.75 GPA, and provide proof of at least five years of professional work experience. Degree seekers should plan to spend between 15 and 20 hours per week completing assignments, participating in discussions, and engaging in independent research. Students are required to complete the degree in two years. There are three semesters each year. Each course contains at least one proctored exam, which students take through Examity or in the 365 testing room.


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3

University of Utah

Location Salt Lake City, UT Tuition Tuition $58,800 % Receiving Financial Aid 34% Student Population 31,592 School Type Public

The University of Utah established its David Eccles School of Business in 1917 in the tradition of business success and leadership. The school offers one of the country’s cheapest online MBAs, which is designed for part time working professionals. Up to 25% of a student's curriculum can be taken as electives, allowing them to pursue personal or career interests. The degree features multiple start and can be completed in 24 months. The program requires one three-day, on-campus residency during the first semester. The remaining courses are delivered through live online sessions over six semesters. Applicants are required to have at least one year of work experience and submit GMAT or GRE scores, in addition to other materials. On average, graduates earn a 30% salary increase after completing this program.


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4

Ashland University

Location Ashland, OH Tuition Tuition $29,500 % Receiving Financial Aid 58% Student Population 5,677 School Type Private

Ashland offers one of the cheapest online MBA programs with no GMAT requirements. The degree can be completed in one year. The curriculum covers traditional MBA topics like accounting and finance. Students are prepared to take the PMP exam, and the fee is included in the tuition. The 30-credit program is delivered through six learning sessions that are offered completely online. Part-time learning opportunities are also available, which typically require 16 to 24 months of enrollment. All students enter Ashland’s program as part of a cohort, meaning they’ll be working with the same students in each class and have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships during the program. Distance learners must begin the program during the fall semester. Online students are eligible for financial aid. Part-time student can complete the program in three years.


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5

Kennesaw State University

Location Kennesaw, GA Tuition Tuition $23,945 % Receiving Financial Aid 55% Student Population 33,252 School Type Public

KSU is among the 50 largest public institutions in the United States. The school has a student body of more than 35,000 and an alumni network of more than 100,000. The school’s Coles College of Business offers an affordable online MBA. The degree is taught exclusively by instructors who have graduate faculty status. Teachers are trained in the most effective elearning methods. The program is taught through a team-based, cohort model. Students can begin coursework in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Learners take two courses each term for five consecutive terms and graduate in about 20 months. One two-day, on-site orientation is required to begin the program; all remaining coursework is completed entirely online. Applicants to the AACSB-accredited online MBA are required to submit GMAT scores, a resume, and official transcripts.


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6

Georgia College and State University

Location Milledgeville, GA Tuition Tuition $22,870 % Receiving Financial Aid 47% Student Population 6,889 School Type Public

Georgia College and State University was founded in 1889. The school’s Georgia WebMBA delivers all courses asynchronously and online through a cohort format. The curriculum in the 10-course, AACSB-accredited online MBA combines foundation and WebMBA courses; no electives are required. The program culminates with a business strategy capstone project. Course topics include economics, statistics, global and international business, managerial finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship. One mandatory, non-credit orientation is required to begin the program. Students complete two courses per term for five consecutive terms, including one summer semester, and can complete the degree in 18-20 months. Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores. Students can transfer up to three credits from an AACSB-accredited school. Coursework includes exams, discussion posts, cases, and simulations. Distance learners receive access to the online library.


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7

Fort Hays State University

Location Hays, KS Tuition Tuition $13,600 % Receiving Financial Aid 41% Student Population 14,210 School Type Public

Fort Hays, founded in 1902, is a Kansas school that provides programs to more than 14,000 students at all academic levels. The university’s affordable online MBA offers 12 concentrations. Students are not required to pursue a concentration. Coursework combines core and concentration requirements, emphasizing collaborative elearning methods through the use of online technology, which includes Skype, WebX, and YouTube. The degree requires students to earn 34 credits, which translate to 12 courses. Transfer credits are typically limited to no nine per program. Students without prior education in business are still encouraged to apply, however, they must complete four additional foundation courses or seek exemption through the graduate coordinator to the MBA Committee. MBA concentrations include digital marketing, healthcare management, human resources management, and leadership studies. All concentration add nine credits to the program curriculum.


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8

University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

Location Denver, CO Tuition Tuition $29,808 % Receiving Financial Aid 36% Student Population 23,671 School Type Public

CU Online's affordable MBA online is AACSB-accredited and emphasizes advanced analytical thinking, communication, and leadership and diplomacy skills. The 48-credit program features four specializations: finance, enterprise technology management, information systems, and managing for sustainability. The degree does not require a comprehensive exam or thesis for completion. Courses are taught through case studies, simulations, group projects, and involvement with real Colorado businesses. Online MBA students may join the experiential learning team, which helps facilitate internships and study-abroad and professional work opportunities. The school offers the same tuition for online and on-campus classes and awards an additional discount to online students who live out of state. Students have earned internships at The Department of Energy, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, Merrill Lynch, and Frontier Airlines.


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9

California State University-Fresno

Location Fresno, CA Tuition Tuition $24,732 % Receiving Financial Aid 33% Student Population 24,136 School Type Public

Known as Fresno State, this comprehensive public research school is one of 23 institutions operating within the California State University system. Postgraduate learners make up a small, but close, community of learners, and students enrolled in the online MBA program enjoy intimate class sizes. Offered as a blended program, students are able to complete all of their classwork online, but must visit campus for an orientation, to take specific exams, and for final culminating experience portfolio presentations. The program is AACSB accredited. Study abroad programs are available. All coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. For admittance, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Students who are unable to take tests on campus can take them through approved testing locations.


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10

Union University

Location Jackson, TN Tuition Tuition $20,700 % Receiving Financial Aid 52% Student Population 3,583 School Type Private

Union University, the oldest Southern-Baptist-Convention-affiliated school in the U.S., has been providing a Christ-centered education in Tennessee since 1823. The school offers more than 100 academic programs and has a student body of 3,500. With one of the most affordable online MBAs in the country, Union emphasizes valuable, versatile, and career-oriented learning. Courses last eight weeks, and students can complete the program in one to two years. The program is available in four concentrations: accounting, human resource management, leadership, and marketing. The degree features multiple start dates and can be tailored to part-time or full-time study. Union University’s McAfee School of Business works with employers who participate in tuition reimbursement programs. MBA students may pursue a dual degree in MSN, DNP, PharmD, or MSW; graduate certificates in human resources, leadership, and marketing are also available.


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The price of an online MBA is a determining factor when deciding which school to choose, as there is a large variation in pricing between institutions. The table below demonstrates this wide range and the relative affordability of our top 10 programs. The table shows the tuition breakdown for the schools in our top 10 ranking, as well as the tuition breakdown for all the schools in our database.

What Factors Affect the Affordability of an Online MBA Program?

Several factors affect the affordability of an online MBA program, including whether students attend online or on campus, the size of the school, the school’s graduation rate, the quality of education, and the tuition. As you research cheap MBA online options, keep these factors in mind.

Online vs. On Campus

Completing your MBA program online is often cheaper than attending classes in person. Tuition costs about the same for online and in-person classes, but online classes don’t require you to pay for transportation and parking, hard copies of textbooks, and more.

School Size and Type

The size and type of the school can affect the overall affordability of the program.

  • Well-known schools may offer more amenities, and their reputation could be more valuable to future employers, but smaller schools may offer more individualized attention for students.
  • Private schools are generally more expensive than public institutions.
  • Employers view for-profit institutions as less prestigious than nonprofit schools.
Graduation Rate

The graduation rate measures the number of students who complete the program and receive a degree. When a school has a low graduation rate, it indicates that a school is not providing the necessary academic support. By choosing a school with a high graduation rate, you’ll have a higher chance of success.

Quality of Education

Your employment prospects are affected by the program you choose. It is easier to justify the cost of a program if you know it could lead to a good career. A strong alumni network and career center are extremely helpful in this regard.

Tuition

What you will owe on student loans after graduation is a major factor for affordability. The interest on your loan balance increases the amount owed over time while you are paying it off. The price of a program is more affordable if you do not have to take on too much debt to begin with.

How Does Accreditation Affect Affordability?

Accreditation can affect the cost of an online program. When looking for the cheapest online MBA, you should look at more than the cost. Accreditation ensures that a college follows strict educational standards. Regional and national accreditation are most common. Regional accreditation is more prestigious, and credits usually transfer between other regionally accredited schools. An unaccredited program is not worth your time or money.

When researching the best affordable MBA programs, check if it’s accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and/or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Both organizations ensure that schools of business meet their standards.

Financial Aid Options for an Online MBA Program

Several types of financial aid are available to graduate students, including loans, scholarships, and grants. Many students use a combination of these options to make their education affordable. Be sure to investigate all options to avoid debt.

Any student’s first step should be to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines their eligibility for several types of federal financial aid, which can be used to cover education costs such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. It comes in the form of grants, work-study programs, and loans. Students should also look into financial aid programs offered by their state and attending school. Scholarships may be available from nonprofit and private organizations. If you are working full-time and want to pursue your MBA, your employer may offer a program that will cover some, or all of your tuition.

Most federal loans are unsubsidized, which means that you do not need to prove financial need to obtain the loan. Your school will determine the loan amount based on the cost of your education and the other financial aid that you will receive. Interest begins to accrue as soon as the loan is made and is added to the total amount borrowed if you choose not to pay the interest while you are still in school.

An online MBA can be expensive, but you’ll compensate for your initial investment with increased earning potential over the long haul. An MBA provides you a competitive advantage in the job market. It can also open the doors to more lucrative positions. Many companies require an MBA to be considered for a senior executive role. When a potential employer looks at your resume and sees that you have earned your MBA from an accredited program, they know that you have the professional knowledge and commitment you need to succeed.

Ultimately, an MBA is an investment in your future, as it prepares you for a variety of positions that would be difficult to obtain without a graduate degree. Below, you can take a look at a few common careers for MBA graduates, and their respective median salaries.

Median Salary and Typical Careers for MBA Holders

Marketing Manager

Median Salary: $62,885

A marketing manager is responsible for an organization’s plans for appealing to new customers and retaining existing ones. They create marketing strategies for the brand and manage a team of workers who help execute these plans.

Financial Director

Median Salary: $110,389

A financial director is a member of an organization’s senior management team. They are responsible for financial strategy and overseeing operations which contribute to the company’s financial health, including accounting and major business initiatives.

Vice President of Operations

Median Salary: $123,159

A vice president of operations helps an organization strategize and set business goals. They also oversee the company’s everyday activity to keep it on track to meet those goals.

Executive Director

Median Salary: $77,125

An executive director is responsible for the strategy and operations of a nonprofit organization, including overseeing the budget and making sure the organization complies with relevant laws governing nonprofits.

Program Project Manager

Median Salary: $82,815

A program project manager oversees individual, consecutive projects for an organization, managing employees involved with the project and making sure the project goals and timelines are met.

Source: Payscale

Even though these online MBA programs are already affordable, there are ways to save even more money. Financial aid helps, but you don’t want to spend more than necessary. There are some additional tactics you can employ to save on your MBA.

  • Credit Overload

    Many schools let you apply to take more courses in a semester than are usually allowed. If your credit overload request is approved, you can save any money you would have spent by having to stay enrolled for longer.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Many schools provide this information on their website; however, if you can’t find it, contact the school and ask for it. This data should include graduation rates, employment rates, and the compensation levels of recent graduates. When viewed side-by-side, this information provides a glimpse at program quality.

  • Take Classes over Summer

    Using the summer term to complete coursework also helps you to save money by allowing you to complete your degree in a shorter period of time.

  • Rent/Buy e-books

    Instead of purchasing expensive physical copies of the textbooks, look into buying, or even renting, digital copies. This can save a lot of money and space.

  • Make Loan Payments While You’re in School

    If you make loan payments while you are still in school, less interest will accrue because the loan balance will be smaller. With this strategy, you will owe far less upon graduation than you would if you wait until you complete your degree to start making payments.

Graduate school entrance exams, such as the GMAT, can create an extra financial hurdle due to the expense of preparation and the fee for taking the test. However, not every MBA program requires you to submit a GMAT score. This list is different from the one above because it does not include any programs that require GMAT scores.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description
1

Ashland University

Location Ashland, OH Tuition Tuition $29,500 % Receiving Financial Aid 58% Student Population 5,677 School Type Private

Ashland University’s online MBA allows students to move from matriculation to graduation with one year of full-time study. The accelerated program requires students to earn 30 credits, which they can earn completely online. The program, taught over the course of six sessions, instills all the knowledge needed to become a successful business leader. Students can complete the program in a part-time format, which requires at least two years of study. AU’s offering is already one of the cheapest online MBA programs in the country. Tuition includes a Verizon MiFi Hotspot, so degree seekers can connect to the internet no matter their location. Distance learners that meet admission requirements may be able to receive a GMAT/GRE waiver. The program includes a curriculum that prepares students for project management professional certification and is AACSB accredited.


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2

University of Colorado Denver

Location Denver, CO Tuition Tuition $29,808 % Receiving Financial Aid 36% Student Population 23,671 School Type Public

CU Online offers one of the cheapest online MBAs without a GMAT requirement. The AACSB-accredited program emphasizes advanced analytical thinking, leadership, communication, and diplomacy skills. The degree consists of 48 credits. Students must complete core, elective, and international business requirements. The program offers specializations in finance, enterprise technology management, information systems, and managing for sustainability. No comprehensive exam or thesis is required for completion. The online learning model incorporates case studies, simulations, group projects, and introductions to Colorado business owners and entrepreneurs. Online MBA students have access to the experiential learning team, which allows them to explore internships and other professional and study-abroad opportunities. Graduates think analytically and strategically, are good communicators, and have leadership and diplomacy skills.


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3

University of North Dakota

Location Grand Forks, ND Tuition Tuition $18,619 % Receiving Financial Aid 51% Student Population 14,951 School Type Public

The University of North Dakota’s online MBA is a flexible degree that allows students to begin in August, January, or May. The 43-credit curriculum incorporates cutting-edge research and technology. Program specializations include general, international business, and social entrepreneurship. Online MBA students must complete the successful MBA: executives introductory course. Experiential learning is a large component of the program, with opportunities available in government and business, or through a student managed investment fund. A survey of recent graduates found that alumni were making between $70,000 and $80,000 within five years of graduation. The majority of graduates can be found working in managerial positions related to business and financial operations. Students can complete the program in two years, and live web classes are held once a week in the evenings. All online students pay in-state tuition.


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4

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Location Odessa, TX Tuition Tuition $9,396 % Receiving Financial Aid 21% Student Population 6,077 School Type Public

UTPB, a member of the University of Texas System, has a campus in Odessa and offers a general online MBA program that requires students to earn 30-36 credits. Learners who complete the minimum number of credits can finish the program in 12 months, while those taking additional courses for the finance or accounting concentration typically require approximately 18 months. Applicants who hold a minimum GPA of 3.25 can submit two letters of recommendation to bypass GMAT requirements. Students can begin the program at six different points throughout the year: January, March, May, July, August, or October. Courses include analytical models for decision-making, production and operations management, legal environment of business, and management of financial institutions. The accounting concentration offers a CPA and non-CPA track.


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5

Texas A & M University - Texarkana

Location Texarkana, TX Tuition Tuition $17,316 % Receiving Financial Aid 46% Student Population 1,848 School Type Public

Texas A&M's Texarkana campus is home to a small student population of under 2,000. Students can choose from more than 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate programs in six academic areas, all offering the benefit of small classes taught by qualified faculty. The school offers one of the country’s most affordable online MBAs. MBA concentrations include general, energy leadership, and supply chain. The 36-hour, 12-course curriculum combines core and elective coursework in macroeconomic theory and policy, international management, organizational behavior, and more. The program culminates with a managerial policy and strategy capstone during the final semester. Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 2.5 GPA for the last 60 hours of their undergraduate study. Applicants with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 do not have to submit GMAT scores.


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6

University of Missouri - Columbia

Location Columbia, MO Tuition Tuition $73,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 47% Student Population 35,424 School Type Public

University of Missouri offers more than 100 degrees and thousands of courses through its Mizzou Online system. The school's online ExecMBA is a blended program that requires some campus visits, though it still ranks among the country’s most affordable online MBAs. The program is AACSB-accredited and emphasizes advanced analytical thinking, communication, and leadership and diplomacy skills. The 48-credit program includes personal coaching and assessment, online webinars, and workshops. The curriculum is completed through a cohort format. Learners complete four online courses each semester and can complete the program in about 20 months. Students are required to attend campus four times each year to complete the required eight weekend sessions with their cohort. Distance learners must also attend an international residency, visiting two global locations over nine days. During the 2016-2017 academic year, the school counted nearly 16,500 students enrolled in at least one online class.


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7

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Location Durant, OK Tuition Tuition $11,880 % Receiving Financial Aid 45% Student Population 3,754 School Type Public

SOSU, founded in 1909 as a school for educators, is located in Durant. The university offers numerous online and on-campus programs across four academic areas: arts and sciences, education and behavioral sciences, business, and graduate studies. SOSU’s cheap MBA online is as affordable as it is diverse, with more than 11 specializations to choose from, including some that are unique to SOSU, such as Native American leadership, safety, and aerospace logistics. The 36-hour, 12-course curriculum comprises core and emphasis curriculum. Students can complete the program in 12 months. The program offers an expedited application-acceptance process, ideal for students looking to start online courses as soon as possible. Applicants with a non-business bachelor’s degree must complete prerequisites to qualify for core coursework in the MBA. No GMAT is required for admission.


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8

Texas A&M International University

Location Laredo, TX Tuition Tuition $19,380 % Receiving Financial Aid 39% Student Population 7,192 School Type Public

The multilingual and multicultural branch of the Texas A&M system serves nearly 7,500 students from its Laredo campus. The school offers dozens of programs spanning five academic departments. TAMIU’s affordable online MBA is available in five concentrations: international business, international banking and finance, international trade and logistics, management, and international business (Spanish). The 30-hour program is designed to be completed part-time over the course of two years. Students take courses in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Preferred applicants have a business degree, though students with a non-business background can satisfy prerequisites through TAMIU’s six-hour online MBA bootcamp. TAMIU’s online MBA promotes global business skills to enhance career advancement opportunities for its graduates in local and international markets. The MBA with a concentration in international business prepares students for careers as vice president of operations, customer broker, trade analyst, and more.


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9

Northwest Nazarene University

Location Nampa, ID Tuition Tuition $19,635 % Receiving Financial Aid 61% Student Population 2,207 School Type Private

Idaho’s Northwest Nazarene University offers one of the cheapest online MBAs of any private school. Students can complete the program in 16 months. Classes are taught through an accelerated eight-week format, allowing learners to take four courses per semester while still balancing professional and personal responsibilities. Learners take two courses per half-term and typically spend 12-16 hours per week, per course completing assignments and engaging with peers and professors. Students can concentrate in accounting, but must take an additional 12 credits. The 33-credit general curriculum includes studies in ethical management, leadership development, organizational dynamics, and managing in a global economy with an optional international component. For admittance, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and a favorable recommendation from the business school’s graduate committee.


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10

California State University - San Bernardino

Location San Bernardino, CA Tuition Tuition $36,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 45% Student Population 20,024 School Type Public

CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year. The school is one of 23 California State University campuses that make up the largest system of higher education in the country. CSUSB offers more than 70 academic programs to students at all academic levels. The school’s AACSB-accredited affordable online MBA is designed for working professionals and offers an 18-month and flex track option. Students can participate in an optional cybersecurity concentration. The program requires students to complete an MBA business boot camp before their second quarter. Boot camp subjects include accounting, finance, information management, and supply chain management. Students must satisfy core, foundation, and elective requirements. The program culminates with a business analysis project and MBA portfolio. No GMAT or GRE is required for admission into the online MBA program.


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