PhotoStudents choose a for-profit college for a lot of different reasons.

For-profit schools, like DeVry, University of Phoenix, and Strayer, were among the first to offer online courses, ideally suited to non-traditional students who wanted to pursue a degree while already in the workforce.

By and large, for-profit colleges have open enrollment, meaning almost anyone with a high school diploma who applies gets in. Traditional colleges over the last two decades have erected barriers, selecting only the students they want.

Finally, for-profit schools advertise, meaning more prospective students are aware of them and might be more likely to choose a for-profit school without looking into the alternatives.

Unfortuately, for-profit schools can be pretty expensive – and in the recent case of Corinthian College – accreditation has been an issue. Many students have left for-profit schools, with and without degrees, carrying a mountain of debt.

In recent years, for-profit schools have gotten some stiff competition from traditional colleges and universities, which are able to provide a quality, online education at much more affordable prices.

Most of them don't advertise, so here are five that deserve a closer look. If they are state supported schools, they usually charge more for out-of-state students. We selected schools that either don't charge extra, or the difference isn't that great.

New Mexico Highlands University

The school, with a campus in Las Vegas, New Mexico., was established in 1893. It offers degree programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and social work.

Tuition in its online programs costs $200 per credit hour for New Mexico residents and $314 for out of state students.

Murray State University

Murray State was founded in the early 20th century in Murray, Ky. It offers a large number of both graduate and undergraduate degree programs that are accessible online.

The in-state tuition rate is $317 a credit hour. Murray State has reciprocal arrangements with some other states in the region for reduced out of state tuition. For example, the cost is $383.50 for Alabama residents, $387 for Ohio residents, $335 for Tennessee residents, and $367 for residents of Missouri.

Columbia College

Columbia College is a private school, founded in 1851, with its campus in Columbia, Missouri. Since 2000, it has poured resources into its online degree programs and charges the same for in-state and out-of-state students – $275 per credit hour.

Bellevue University

Located in Bellevue, Nebraska, Bellevue University is another private school where the tuition is the same for everyone, regardless of where the student lives. It has ranked highly in the U.S. News annual college edition and offers 47 online undergraduate degree programs at a cost of $275 per credit hour.

Middle Georgia State University

Part of the University of Georgia system, Middle Georgia is located in Macon and offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs online.

Students pursing an online degree pay a tuition of $169 per credit hour.

Since state supported colleges are usually cheaper for in-state residents, looks for an inexpensive education alternative where you live. Check out options in your state here.

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