Why does it cost so much to study online at NMSU?

Online education is supposed to be an innovative and, ultimately, less expensive way to learn. However, that is not always the case in the real world, especially as traditional providers enter the playing field, often lacking the incentive to keep costs low. US News and World Reports has produced a new report detailing the ten most expensive online bachelors degrees in the nation.

Unfortunately, New Mexico State University made the list with the 6th most-costly online degree in the nation, costing an astonishing $50,816 according to the magazine. Interestingly enough that is more than double the cost of an undergraduate degree from the institution for an in-state student (Based on this spreadsheet which is provided on the School’s website, a four-year degree for a student taking classes on campus in Las Cruces should cost about $18,600).

This doesn’t add up. Clearly, the field of online learning is a new one and there are resources needed to adapt to the new educational style, but fewer buildings and even fewer instructors should be necessary for online classes. And, of course, at the K-12 level, there are two entirely digital charter schools now up and running that, despite the (controversial) involvement of for-profit companies, are costing parents and students no more than their traditional counterparts.

What gives? It’s hard to say why an online diploma would be so much more expensive than a traditional one. I’d be interested in feedback from folks at NMSU and anyone who is interested in the situation.

HT: Pat Leonard