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The cost of online MBA programs can vary greatly from school to school, and the average tuition rate will run somewhere between $25,000 to $45,000. Online MBA programs at schools such as Clarkson University, with an online MBA tuition of $46,104, Washington State University, at $30,000, and American InterContinental University, at $27,936, are examples of average costs.

Tuition rates for online MBAs offered through traditional universities can often be quite low, and seeking out this type of program is an excellent way to locate a high quality MBA online at a great price. Universities such as University of North Dakota, Hawaii Pacific University and Upper Iowa University offer affordable online MBA programs that come to approximately $12,129, $13,410 and $15,561, respectively.

Rates for many online programs can also peak at prices as high as $80,000. Syracuse University offers an online MBA program with a tuition rate of $62,748. The tuition for the Fast Track MBA at Babson College comes to about $73,500, and the tuition for an online MBA with Thunderbird School of Global Management is approximately $77,940.

Many factors contribute to the wide range of costs in online MBA tuition, such as the size of the student population, the amount of federal and privately-funded aid a college or university may receive and its ability to seamlessly integrate the technology costs required of an online program. It is often the case that public universities are able to offer lower tuition rates due to government funding, while online programs through private universities tend to be higher. Also, schools that have a mainly online presence have costs that differ significantly based on the needs and abilities of each individual school. When searching for an affordable online MBA, it is best not to judge the quality of a school based only on its tuition price. Instead, students should determine a price range that reflects their budget and select a school based on its academic program. This will secure the most cost effective online MBA at the highest possible quality.

When considering graduate business education, especially if a decision is being made between attending an online program versus a traditional program, the reality of the financial savings associated with online MBA programs is worth taking into consideration. Any online MBA program, whether online or on-campus will be a huge financial commitment, and, in order to understand the true impact of an enrollment decision, students must take the time to factor in all the expenses that go into graduate work, rather than just tuition.

Aside from tuition, even the most affordable online MBA programs come with added costs, such as books, course materials and securing a personal computer. For example,the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University offers an affordable online MBA with a tuition rate of $1,065 per credit hour for the 2010-11 academic year, according to Kd.iu.edu. With a necessary 51 credits needed to complete the program, the entire degree comes to about $54,315, and required materials add up to around $100 per course. This could amount to an added cost of over $400 per semester for full-time students. However, even within the same university, the cost of an on-campus MBA is much higher. According to Kelley.iu.edu, the tuition rate for out of state students is $45,164. Room and board comes to approximately $13,396. And the University predicts about $1,950 for books and supplies, $1,600 for a computer, $3,184 for transportation, and $4,388 for miscellaneous expenses. This comes to a tuition of $69,682.

This comparison outlines a definite bonus inherent in most online MBA programs ñ they typically cost less. Students do not have to worry about finding housing on or near campus or paying for transportation costs in order to attend class. They will also incur less miscellaneous expenses because there will be no need to re-locate. In fact, online students are able to more easily dedicate time to their current jobs and have the potential to make more money during school.

Another factor in finding the most affordable online MBA program is determining what kind of financial aid may be applied to education expenses. Students usually fund their education costs with a combination of the following forms of aid: federal aid, institutional scholarships, outside grants and scholarships, and private student loans.

Federal aid is usually provided through grants and loans. The Stafford Loan is one of the most comprehensive forms of assitance offered by the government. It has a low interest rate, and loan amounts are determined based on financial need. A loan specifically created for graduate and professional degree students is the Grad Plus Loan. Students must have a good credit history in order to qualify, but the loan offers a low interest rate of 7.9%. A great resource for students looking into federal aid programs can be found through the The Education Resources Information Center, at Eric.ed.gov.

Students can also apply for institutional scholarships upon application to an MBA online program. For example, Penn State offers university-wide scholarship programs to all students who enroll. The Bunton-Waller Scholarship was created to assist those with special need, such as economic disadvantage, geographic diversity, and ethnic or racial under-representation. The program grants annual scholarship amounts of $3,200 to qualifying students.

Every student should also take the time to research outside scholarships and grants. Many organizations provide financial assistance to students of a huge variety of backgrounds, and every student is sure to find a scholarship that may by applicable to their education goals. The Haas School of Business at Berkeley has created an excellent resource on scholarships available to MBA students at all schools, at Mba.hass.berkeley.edu.

Once students acquire federal funding and all applicable grants and scholarships, they must make up the difference of their education costs. Most students take out private students loans that can be re-paid after graduation. Student lenders such as student lenders such as Salliemae, which is one of the largest in the United States, provide student loans with low interest rates. Students have a grace period of 6 months after graduation before they must begin re-payment.