On average, though, going the online route is often cheaper, especially if you're attending a public university that's not in your home state. A recent analysis of a public Florida college showed a student would save over $20,000 earning their degree online at the same school.
Students going to online colleges generally are eligible for the same federal financial aid as their brick-and-mortar counterparts as long as the school is accredited and has signed an agreement with the Department of Education designating it a Title IV school.
For many students, online schools give them an opportunity to finish something they started years before.
Take the case of Jonathan Paul.
"When I went to college the first time, I really didn't have direction, it was just the next step and I wasn't really motivated to complete my degree," said the now 32-year-old Pennsylvania resident.