2018 Guide to Online Colleges and Universities in NY

Higher education in New York State has long been some of the best and most diverse in the country; as one of the country’s largest “melting pots”, institutions of higher learning are flooded with students from all backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. In this way, students attending college in New York or one of the many online colleges in NY will learn a great deal from real-world experiences in addition to what is taught in the classroom.

In a widely-publicized move, New York State recently passed its Excelsior Scholarship Program; this program is a groundbreaking movement in the United States as it offers free tuition to middle class residents of New York. To qualify for this tuition-free education, you must be a resident of New York state, attend a regionally accredited New York college, take 30 credits per year, and come from a household earning $125,000 or less per year. If you plan to attend one of the New York state accredited online colleges, you may still qualify for this tuition-free option. Additionally, you must plan to live in New York for a predetermined period of time, post-graduation.

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New York’s Online Education Profile

Online colleges and distance learning opportunities are increasingly prevalent in New York. With over 300 post-secondary schools in the state and the second-most grant money awarded statewide (second to California), New York public and private education institutions are thriving. The NCES estimates that approximately 6.1% of students take classes entirely through online platforms. Of this 6.1%, 83.9% are undergraduate, and only 47.5% are reported to be living in New York; in other words, distance learning is often utilized by students, appropriately, at a distance. The two leading advocates of online and distance learning in the state are the New York Distance Learning Association and The New York State Distance Learning Consortium. These two institutions, among others, ensure that your classes at online schools in NY are every bit as worthwhile as traditional classroom learning.

Number/Percentage New York National Average
Number of Title IV 4-year colleges 277 56
Number of Title IV 2-year colleges 207 33
Percentage of students enrolled in distance education 15.2% 25.8%
Postsecondary education spending per full-time student $7,106 $6,954
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 8.5% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree 19.4% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 14.8% 11.2%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Average Cost of College Tuition & Fees in New York

Number/Percentage New York National Average
Average in-state tuition & fees – public 4-year $7,647* $8,778
Average in-state tuition & fees – private 4-year $36,361 $27,951
Average in-state tuition & fees – public 2-year $4,969 $3,038
Average in-state tuition & fees – private 2-year N/A $23,328

*With the Excelsior Program, public, in-state tuition is free so long as you meet necessary qualifications.

Source: NCES

Best Online Colleges in NY

The following list of the best online colleges in NY is meant to give you a jumping-off point for finding the right online new york college for you. With the growing prevalence of online colleges in NY, it is becoming tougher to weed out programs that don’t serve your needs. The online schools in NY listed below have proven their excellence time and again as online schools in NY and/institutions of higher education with a diverse range of programs for associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degree programs.


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New York’s Higher Education Outlook

New York state boasts impressively high rates of higher education enrollment, with nearly 1.3 million students enrolled in higher education across 110 institutions statewide. New York is the nation’s largest “importer” of college students in the sense that more people travel to New York for college or university than to any other state in the country. Part of the allure in earning your degree from a New York school is the high level of regional and national prestige placed on many schools in this state.

Public education is provided through a number of colleges and universities, but is most-commonly found through campuses of the City University of New York and the State University of New York.

Higher Education Initiatives in New York

As previously mentioned, New York has recently become the first state to offer tuition-free education to students of a middle class background. For many years, tuition-free scholarship options have been available to students coming from poverty, but the Excelsior Program allows students with household incomes of up to $125,000 per year a chance to earn a public college degree without any tuition charges.
The following list incorporates initiatives, councils, and programs founded and maintained with the common goal of making education more accessible to students of all cultural and economic backgrounds.

Resources for New York

  • New York Humanities Council: The NYHC is a grant-making and programming council with the mission to expand the reach of the humanities from the classroom to the real world. Humanities, according to the NYHC, are crucial to the advancement of cultural understanding and acceptance, as well as providing students with a foundation for civic participation.
  • The New York Adult Education Board: The NYAEB is a foundation designed and implemented to make getting an education more accessible to people too old to go to high school. The CAEB gives adults 18 and older a chance to earn their high school diploma or their GED. This Board also lends its hand to providing English and ESL classes to adult students from out of the country.
  • New York’s Community College System: The SUNY Office of Community Colleges is dedicated to higher education students enrolled in more than 30 community colleges across the state. New York greatly supports community college advancement by providing funding, fundraising, and accreditation to ensure students earn the best possible education, as well as the opportunity to transfer to any four-year college in the state.
  • New York Library Agency: The NYLA is a public research institution available to all citizens. This agency is a central research and reference institution that provides nonpartisan information about state government and legislature.
  • New York Financial Assistance: NYFA is focused on providing students with information about how to pay for college. This assistance is provided through scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. Organizations such as the Higher Education Services Corporation offer classes and seminars that provide financial aid information.

College Savings Plans

Along with financial aid and scholarship opportunities, states offer 529 plans in an effort to ease the financial burden of paying for higher education. Essentially, a 529 plan is a state-run, tax-advantaged investment account system that you can pay into and eventually put that money towards you or your child’s college education. Each state in the U.S. offers 529 plans, but each state’s plan is different. Wherever your place of residency, you can decide which state’s 529 you choose to contribute to. For example, a family in Nevada could invest in Florida’s 529 plan and send their child to school in New York. More than half of U.S. states offer state-income tax deductions to residents contributing to in-state 529 plans; in New York state, investments of up to $5,000 per year by an individual and up to $10,000 by a married couple filing jointly are tax deductible. This money is also available to be put toward online schools in NY.

Educational Nonprofit Organizations in New York

  • 826NYC: This nonprofit provides students of all ages with resources to further their creative and expository writing skills. 826NYC believes that strong writing skills strengthen communication and provide a solid foundation for any future career opportunities.
  • Advantage Higher Education: The mission of AHE is to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in college and beyond. AHE focuses primarily on STEM fields and general education to prepare for a broad array of careers. There are also programs available through AHE that delve into the sports and recreational activities.
  • El Centro: This educational nonprofit provides Hispanic students of all ages with the opportunity to learn English and Spanish, as well as find out more about immigration processes. This foundation may be of particular interest to students in 2017, with the onset of new and potential new legislation surrounding immigrants in the United States.

Accrediting Bodies in New York

To anyone unfamiliar with the concept, hearing/reading about an accredited vs. non-accredited university probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That being said, attending an accredited university or college is extremely important; accreditation ensures that a given school offers students a certain level or quality of education that guarantees your degree will be recognized and valued, especially by potential employers, who are likely to check to see if your degree comes from an accredited university. Many New York online colleges are fully accredited, just make sure that the school you are interested in meets all qualifications.

Furthermore, there are two primary types of accreditation: regional and national. National accreditation is seen as less-prestigious and has fewer restrictions and standards required in order to accredit a school. National accreditation is most commonly seen in distance learning schools or community colleges, and applies to many who are earning an online degree in NY. Regional accreditation, alternatively, is considered extremely prestigious, as accrediting bodies are given the freedom to be more “picky” in the schools they choose to accredit, thus creating higher standards and regionally specific guidelines. One potential downside to attending a regionally accredited institution could be the higher price tag.

In choosing an online school, it can be all the more difficult to determine whether a school’s accreditation is legitimate or counterfeit. To make sure that an online school’s accrediting body exists, make sure to check if the agency is legitimized by either the Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Some examples of accrediting bodies found in New York are:

  • New York State Board of Regents: The NYSBR is responsible for supervising all educational activities in New York state. The regents are divided and organized into committees whose duties and members are appointed by the Chancellor.
  • Commission of Education: This commission ensures that accredited community colleges in the region uphold a standard of education and coursework in-keeping with employer standards.
  • The Higher Learning Commission: The HLC accredits a wide range of schools in the midwest-western United States. This commission is focused on maintaining a standard of educational excellence primarily in the liberal arts.

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Job Outlook for New York

The table below outlines the three industries in New York state that employ the most people. The first explains which industries (broad-spectrum) offer employment to college graduates, while the second lists the specific employers with the most employees in the state. You will see that there are discrepancies between industries with the most professionals and places of employment with the most employees. For example, there are more people employed in finance in general than specifically by the Department of Education. Online schools in New York are every bit as prevalent as brick and mortar schools in qualifying you for employment in any of these industries, as well as others.

Top Industries in New York

Industry Description
The Financial Services Sector In New York, the “financial sector” is almost synonymous with “Wall Street.” As one of the most potentially lucrative industries, many people enter this workforce – though it should be noted that wealth is not evenly divided amongst employees.
Healthcare Health care, such as in nursing and medical practice, rarely experiences major fluctuation, as much of the spending in this industry is considered non-discretionary.
Professional and Technical Services In 2015, more than 647,000 professionals were employed in this field. Employees in this sector are particularly susceptible to fluctuations in the economy.

Top Employers in New York

Top Employers Number of Employees
The City of New York 148,898
The New York City Department of Education 119,410
Metropolitan Transportation Authority 66,804

New York by the Numbers

Per capita income:

  • State: $58,670
  • US average: $29,979

Median household income:

  • State: $64,971
  • US average: $55,775

Gross Domestic Product:

  • State: $1,444,406 million
  • US: 18,456,292