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As a rule of thumb, the more education a person obtains, the more money they can make. But there’s a catch – getting that education can be quite expensive, especially when students get into the graduate programs that lead to the best jobs. In fact, the cost of an education is often cited by students as a roadblock to obtaining their degree.
That’s why it’s so important to be smart about searching for the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs. Online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs prepare students for the rigorous job duties of social workers while providing the benefits of affordability that only online schools can offer. And though many of them might seem prohibitively expensive regardless, there are several affordable programs out there.
But how does someone interested in earning an MSW find the cheapest online MSW programs? Let’s look at how to find a program that won’t break the bank.
www.onlinemasterscolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.
SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.
Affordability is a key factor when choosing graduate degrees as the tuition fee can get high. Online MSW programs can get very expensive as well. But not every university is expensive. Many universities offer cheap online MSW programs. Cheap doesn’t mean that the programs are of low quality. It simply means that the tuition fee is lower for various reasons. Some of these universities get funding from various sources, which helps in keeping the tuition fee lower. Here is a list of the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs:
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What Does “Most Affordable Online MSW Programs” Really Mean?
By definition, “affordable” means something doesn’t cost a lot of money. Many master’s students might believe that tuition defines what’s affordable for college. But there’s more to finding an affordable online MSW degree that looking for the lowest tuition. Other factors that play a large role in the total cost of an education include:
Academic fees and expenses.
Many schools are under pressure to keep tuition low. But the cost of attendance has steadily increased. How is that possible? Schools do this by adding or increasing the costs of expenses besides tuition. For example, schools may charge technology fees, activity fees, academic advising fees and so on. Then there is the cost of books, supplies and housing. This is where online programs can really save money, as distance learning master’s students don’t have to worry about living in a dorm, and they often don’t have to pay full price for hardcover textbooks – they get all their materials online for a nominal fee.
At most schools, students are expected to prepay for their education each term. Schools can make their programs much more affordable without lowering the cost by simply allowing master’s students to pay for their courses over time. Whether it’s breaking up a semester’s worth of tuition over multiple payments or allowing students to pay for each class, one at a time, the ability to spread out the cost of an education over time can make it more obtainable.
Availability of financial aid.
Most students, regardless of where they attend school, will have access to certain sources of financial aid, such as from the federal government, state government and private organizations. But many forms of financial aid are exclusive to a specific school. This is especially true with scholarships and grants, where many schools and programs have awards specifically allocated for only their students. These are typically awarded based on need or academic merit. Many have no formal application process; admitted students are automatically placed into consideration when they accept the school’s offer of admission.
Some of the universities that offer the most affordable online MSW programs maintain high quality in their programs. And these universities believe in the program’s strength and do not want to induce entry barriers to the most affordable online MSW programs. This includes GRE requirements for the programs. Here is a list of universities that offer the most affordable online MSW programs no GRE:
The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an online MSW degree program specifically designed for master’s students who either do not have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or received their BSW more than five years ago. Consisting of 62 credits spanning nine semesters, students can take all their coursework remotely through mostly asynchronous means. However, a few classes are given through synchronous learning, which will require grad students to be present online at a certain time.
UCF’s online MSW program is unique in that it’s only offered in a part-time format. Traditional part-time MSW students will complete their 62 credits in three years utilizing a cohort model. However, students with advance standing (students who earned a BSW within the past five years) will only need to complete 32 credit hours and can do so as part-time students in just four semesters.
Admission requires master’s students to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (3.3 for advanced standing), three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a professional statement, writing samples and completion of prerequisite courses in the following areas:
Boise State University’s (BSU) online Master of Social Work is fully online, with no requirement that students attend class on-campus. BSU’s MSW program follows most other online social work programs in that it has both traditional and advanced standing tracks available. BSU’s advanced standing option is unique in that it’s open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) if earned within the last 10 years, if they have significant social work practice experience. And for those without that experience, they can still be eligible for advanced standing if they earned their BSW within the past five years.
With advanced standing, master’s in social work students have 37 credit hours to complete and can do so within one year as full-time students. Non-advanced standing students have 61 credit hours to complete, which often takes two years when enrolled full-time. However, part-time attendance is an option for those which wish to earn their MSW at a slower pace. When enrolled part-time, advanced standing students can finish their MSW program in two years while non-advanced standing grad students will take three years to finish. Whichever program path a student takes, a few courses they can expect include:
Most Affordable CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs
It is a general misconception that the cheapest online MSW programs mean that the programs are somehow inferior to other MSW programs. That is far from the truth. In this guide, we are showing most affordable programs and CSWE accredited online MSW programs. Another factor that is important to consider is financial aid. Financial aid can make a huge difference in a program’s cost, but many financial aid awards will only go to those who enroll in an accredited institution or program. That is one major reason why accreditation is so important for a master’s in social work students choosing among competing schools and programs. Failing to attend an accredited school or program can mean being ineligible for state and federal student loans and grants, as well as many private scholarships. See the list of Most Affordable CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs:
How to Pay for Most Affordable Online MSW Programs
Cost of attendance of an accredited online MSW program can range anywhere from roughly $400 to more than $1,700 per credit hour. Some of the more affordable online MSW programs can still add up to about $30,000 for the total cost of attendance. However, this number assumes master’s students have no other ways to lower the cost. The actual bottom line can be much lower when a student takes advantage of the following resources:
Gift-based financial aid
Employer tuition reimbursement
The best and most popular way to reduce the cost of attendance is to obtain a grant or scholarship. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are technically different. Grants are usually given based on a student’s financial need while scholarships are awarded based on a student’s individual merit, such as academic performance. Many schools will have grants and scholarships specifically for admitted master’s students.
Many employers provide benefits that include full or partial payment of tuition costs when employees seek advanced degrees to improve their professional prospects. The specific terms of these reimbursement benefits will vary based on employer, but often, employees will be contractually obligated to return to their former employer for a set period after completing their graduate degree.
Some social work programs will have part-time job openings for graduate assistants. These positions require master’s students to help professors with classroom instruction or research projects. While many online MSW students won’t have the ability to take full advantage of these opportunities, they are an option to consider, especially for online students who live close to the school.
Technically speaking, completing a program in an accelerated manner won’t save money, just time. But saving time can lead to saving money, or more accurately, earning more money by graduating sooner. Every week a student can shave off the time they spend in an online MSW program is an extra week they will have to work full-time and take advantage of the benefits the MSW degree brings.
Did you know that there are scholarships that will make online MSW programs more affordable. Find out more about Scholarships for online MSW students.
Resources for Most Affordable Online MSW Program Students
It is essential for students looking to pursue affordable online MSW programs to keep in touch with various resources that help reduce the program’s overall bill. Here are a few resources that will help:
Best Financial Aid Guide – Find out various ways to get financial aid for online masters programs including MSW programs.
GRE Resources – Find out affordable options in prepping for GRE test.
Scholarships for Women – If you are a female online MSW program students, some of these scholarships might help you.
Affordability of a social work online master’s program is one of the most important aspects, but there are other points to consider as well. To learn more about social work programs, check out these pages:
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