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Most Affordable Human Services Online Degrees for 2024

Earning your online human services degree doesn’t have to mean digging yourself into debt. Explore affordable programs, funding options, and strategies for cutting costs below.

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If you are passionate about helping people and making a difference in society, a human services degree is an ideal steppingstone to a career that allows you to do exactly that. Thanks to an ever-increasing number of high-quality online programs, you can accomplish your educational goals more conveniently than ever before. As enticing as all this sounds, you may still feel like a human services degree is out of reach because of the potentially hefty price tag that comes with it. After all, what good is an education if it leaves you drowning in debt?

The good news is that it is entirely possible to earn an affordable human services online degree. In fact, we have designed the following guide to explain exactly how to do so. First, we’ll introduce you to some of today’s most competitively priced programs — this will show you what to look for as you do your own research. Then, we’ll provide you with a detailed look at features of cost-effective programs; strategies to cut costs even further; and scholarships that can support you through your studies and help you avoid accumulating excessive student loan debt.

Everything you need to know to ease your financial anxiety and facilitate your decision-making process is just a paragraph away, so scroll on and start exploring.

Inside the Most Affordable Human Services Online Degrees

Your search for an affordable human services online degree should hinge on finding the highest quality program for the lowest price. To help you get started, we have highlighted three top-notch schools that combine quality and affordability. Even if you don’t find your ideal school here, you can use this information as a framework to guide your research moving forward.

Colorado State University Global

The 120-credit bachelor’s in human services program at Colorado State University Global offers students maximum flexibility through its fully online asynchronous format. Students in the program gain the skills they need to support individuals in vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, unhoused people, and those suffering from mental health issues. Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of careers, including substance abuse counselor, social service liaison, child advocate, case worker, and probation officer.

CSU Global offers extremely competitive and straightforward tuition rates, and students are never charged any miscellaneous or hidden fees. Undergraduate programs cost $350 per credit, bringing the total cost of the bachelor’s in human services to $42,000, however, by transferring eligible credits, students can pay significantly less than this. Additionally, the school offers military tuition assistance and a number of institutional scholarships to further assist students with making their degree affordable.

Lees McRae College

Lees McRae College offers a 60-credit program designed to help students build on existing associate-level work and finish their affordable human services online degree in just two years. Upon completion, graduates are awarded a bachelor of applied arts and sciences that they can use to find employment in a variety of settings, including health centers, group homes, and correctional or rehabilitation facilities.

Lees McRae’s degree-completion program boasts a number of awards and one of the most affordable online human services programs available. The tuition for online programs is $375 per credit hour; with fees (technology and textbook rental), this brings the total estimate for the four-semester human services program to approximately $40,960. Financial aid, including a number of institutional scholarships and grants, is available to help students manage the overall cost of attendance.

Southern New Hampshire University

In terms of quality, affordability, and flexibility, the online human services bachelor’s program at Southern New Hampshire University has it all. This degree is 100% online and asynchronous, and students can customize their learning by following a general track or choosing one of three concentration options (child and family services, gerontology, or substance abuse).

Tuition for online undergraduate programs is $330 per credit hour, bringing the total tuition for the 120-credit human services program to $39,600. This baseline amount is easily reduced through the university’s many forms of financial aid and assistance, including a generous credit transfer policy, military tuition discounts of up to 30%, and a variety of endowment scholarships. And with help from the Student Financial Services team, students can formulate a financial plan to avoid excessive loans. In fact, in 2020, this service helped 5,500 students reduce their loans by over $23 million.

Features of an Online Affordable Program

It’s no secret that online programs have many benefits, including lower costs. When researching affordable human services online degree programs, make sure prospective schools offer as many cost-saving features as possible. To help you pinpoint what to look for, we have outlined several of these attributes below.

Flexible Schedule

The asynchronous format of most online degree programs means that learners do not have to sacrifice their income to attend school. Instead, they can continue to work and fit their studies around their lives, not the other way around. Obviously, maintaining a steady income is beneficial when it comes to financing school.

In-State or Fixed Tuition for Online Students

It is common for colleges to charge higher tuition rates for out-of-state students, but the most affordable schools allow online students to pay the lower in-state rate. Furthermore, online programs often feature fixed rate tuition, which means that students can lock in the same tuition rate for the duration of their programs.

Payment Plans

Tuition payment plans allow students to pay monthly installments toward their tuition and other fees instead of paying the total up front. Although these plans sometimes carry a nominal enrollment fee, this arrangement can help you save a ton of money by eliminating the need for student loans.

Robust Credit Transfer Policy

Many students who enter online human services degree programs already have a number of college credits under their belt. Affordable online programs allow students to leverage this prior learning and save time and money by counting qualifying credits toward the overall credit totals required to complete a higher degree.

Institutional Scholarships & Grants

Many schools go the extra mile to help students afford their degrees by offering a wide variety of institutional (college-specific) scholarships and grants. The chief advantage of this type of financial aid is that it does not require repayment. Therefore, although some awards may be competitive, they are absolutely worth pursuing.

Strategies for Lowering the Costs of Your Human Services Education

Although there are many options out there for obtaining an affordable human services online degree, it is always possible to cut costs even further — and who wouldn’t want that? So, to help you get the most out of every dollar, here are some useful strategies you can employ to manage expenses.

Apply to Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid and as such are unequivocally the best form of financial aid for students who want to avoid debt. Furthermore, virtually all legitimate opportunities do not require an application fee, so there is no risk involved in pursuing them.

Build a Budget

Enrolling in an online program means your options aren’t limited by where you live — or how far you’re willing to commute. Instead of being bound by location, you can select your medical assistant degree program according to your interests and needs. This is particularly beneficial if you live in a rural or remote area where healthcare education options may otherwise be limited.

Complete Prerequisites at a Community College

Completing prerequisites or an associate degree at a community college is a wise, money-saving decision. In fact, the average annual cost of attending a two-year (community) college is $3,970; compare this amount to the average annual cost of attending a four-year institution —$9,678— and the prudent choice is clear.

Fill Out the FAFSA

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a critical first step to obtaining funding for school as it determines your eligibility for federal aid, such as grants, work-study, and loans. Because it assesses financial need, schools use FAFSA data when awarding need-based institutional scholarships and grants.

Move at a Manageable Pace

Instead of immediately jumping into a full course load, consider spreading your courses out over more time by studying on a part-time basis. This approach is less stressful, and can help you manage costs by paying for fewer classes and giving yourself the time to work (and earn) more.

Take Advantage of Military Benefits

Military veterans (and sometimes their spouses and dependents) are eligible for special financial aid. Some programs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, are federal, but there are also many state-specific veterans programs out there, such as Texas’ Hazlewood Act, for example.

Scholarships & Other Funding for Human Services Students

Thanks to the availability of various financial awards and specialized programs, it is easier than ever to earn an affordable human services online degree. We’ve researched some of the best available to help you learn more about and take advantage of these funding avenues. Some of these opportunities can immediately offset your total costs, while others are designed to assist you with loan repayment.

Howard Harris Professional Development Award

This award is open to human services educators and practitioners who are current members of the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS). To be eligible, applicants and nominees must be in the first five years of their careers and demonstrate promise in the area of research and scholarship.

  • Amount: Varies

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

Recipients of funds under this group of loan repayment programs must agree to work either part-time or full-time for at least two to three years at an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Eligible disciplines include substance use disorder counselors and licensed clinical social workers.

  • Amount:
Part-time: $25,000–$50,000
Full-time: $50,000–$100,000

Outstanding Human Services Student Award

The Outstanding Human Services Student Award is presented to a nominated student member of the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) who makes significant contributions to the field of human services over the course of their studies. Qualifying activities include publications, research projects, and significant involvement in human services professional organizations.

  • Amount: Varies

Truman Scholars Program

Truman Scholars receive funding to attend graduate school in pursuit of a public service career. Students must be nominated by their current or former educational institution and be in their penultimate or final year of school at a US-based institution. Candidates can pursue any graduate degree other than the MBA.

  • Amount: $30,000