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If you’re a working RN considering a way to further your education without giving up the work and pay you need, online may be the way to go. But online education can get pretty expensive. So how cheap can you get it? This cheap.

These are the lowest-priced options for getting your BSN online, at least without risking a worthless degree from a faux-college. Most are RN to BSN completion, using your existing education and RN experience for credit. You will usually still need some clinical practice, though some schools let students do clinicals where they’re already working, and some even accept your current work experience in place of clinicals. All of the schools on this list are accredited, so you can be sure your degree meets minimum standards of quality.

And they’re cheap. Super cheap.

The cheapest, reputable online nursing program has to be the University of Wyoming, at only $119 per credit hour for Wyoming residents. It’s common for western states to have well-developed online education options, since they often have students who are spread out geographically and benefit from being able to complete their degrees anywhere. But UW’s RN to BSN completion program is available to students who hold an RN anywhere (though out-of-state tuition is higher at $334 a credit). But whether you’re in Wyoming or not, that’s a cheap degree.

UNC Wilmington has a solid reputation in North Carolina and the surrounding southern states, and their RN to BSN completion program is astoundingly cheap – only $149.47 for NC residents. Of course, out-of-staters will pay more. But for that low price, you get a marketable BSN degree from a respected state university, with up-to-date instruction from experienced nurses and researchers. Even better: if you have all your prerequisites already, the program can be completed in only 12 months, getting you into a higher status and pay grade extremely quickly.

Clayton State University, in Morrow, GA, may not be well-known, but they have a long history of educating nurses through their high-standard programs and relationships with nearby Atlanta-area hospitals and health care facilities. But most importantly (for this list, at least), they’re cheap. Clayton State’s online RN to BSN completion program is only $161.93 per credit hour for Georgia residents, an incredibly affordable way to get a BSN.

The University of North Florida’s Brooks School of Nursing offers a fantastically affordable RN to BSN Bridge program that will only cost Florida residents $175 per credit hour. UNF’s nursing program is community-based and focused on care, especially in under-served communities. Students at UNF are given an education that they can apply to a wide variety of settings: urban, rural, low-income, and more. If you’re in Florida, it will cost you less than a used car to get your BSN in only a year.

New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces, NM, offers an online RN to BSN completion program that may not be the cheapest on the list, but does have a surprising benefit – if you’re taking 6 credits or fewer at the time, out-of-state tuition is the same as in-state, a sweet $253 per credit hour. That’s a real savings for out-of-state online students, since so many universities jack up their out-of-state prices two or three times. NMSU’s nursing program is solid, and can be finished in only 12 months on a full-time schedule.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s online RN to BSN completion program is only open to students with an RN license in Mississippi, but for those who qualify, it’s an affordable $291 per credit hour. With a reputation as one of the best research universities on the Gulf Coast, USM has a solid market value and a proven College of Nursing. No doubt, at less than $300 a credit, this is a degree that will pay for itself very soon.

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Jacksonville State University

Bibb Graves Hall, framed by the first blooms of Spring, April 1, 2010.
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Jacksonville State calls themselves the Friendliest Campus in the South, but you don’t need to visit Jacksonville to benefit from their affordable online RN to BSN program. All online, designed for flexibility and convenience for working nurses, Jacksonville State’s program is priced at a reasonable $327 per credit hour. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s still less than you’d pay for a new car, and a new car won’t get you a higher salary or career advancement. That debt will pay for itself in no time.

CU Denver’s programs are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and the online RN to BSN degree carries that strong reputation. Of course, a good reputation can have its costs as well as its advantages; Denver comes out on the high end of this list at $368 per credit hour, but with the added market value the CU Denver name holds, it could end up money well spent. Admission is open to any licensed RN, not only in Colorado, so anyone can apply.

The University of Delaware School of Nursing is known for its rigor and quality, so there’s no question that a degree from UD represents a strong, impressive education. The tuition for the online RN to BSN program is also on the higher end, but $454 per credit hour for Delaware residents is still a lot lower than many other online nursing degrees. And with that price, you get the distinction of a UD degree, proof that you can meet any challenges the nursing profession can throw at you.

The only for-profit institution on our list, Grand Canyon University makes the top ten because, unlike some other for-profits, they both keep tuition reasonable, and make sure their programs are reputable and worthwhile, with accreditation from both the CCNE and Arizona State Board of Nursing, as well as regional accreditation for the university. If a Christian-centered education is important to you, that’s one of Grand Canyon’s priorities, as well as state-of-the-art learning. It may be the most expensive of the cheap schools, but it’s still a deal.