PENSACOLA — SR Education Group, a research publisher based out of Washington, recently researched more than 1,000 colleges and compiled lists highlighting the 25 most cost-effective online colleges by degree level, as well as an overall most affordable list.

The University of West Florida ranked within the top 10 of three lists.

UWF ranks No. 6 for most affordable public health master’s degrees and No. 10 in most affordable software engineering master’s degrees.

SR Education Group compiled a list of 24 colleges showcasing the most affordable online doctoral programs of 2018. Each school offers an annual tuition rate of $10,000 or less. UWF ranked No. 8 on this list.

Here's why UWF ranked high on these lists:

1. Annual tuition: UWF offers an annual tuition of $7,013 for online doctoral degrees, $19,241 for undergraduate degrees and $24,894 for graduate degrees. Out-of-state students may be eligible for a tuition waiver that reduces the out-of-state portion of their tuition.

"Florida ranks in the bottom of national public four-year institution costs, making Florida institutions very affordable,"Karen Rasmussen, associate vice president of the Division of Research and Strategic Innovation, said. "State educational priorities include affordability, access and quality."

2. School type: UWF is a non-profit university. Non-profit colleges cannot distribute earnings to owners by law, but instead have to re-invest money back into the school. They are exempt from federal corporate income taxes and may receive direct public funding or have charitable endowments. In turn, they may offer lower tuition and/or more types of financial aid.

"UWF is a public institution serving the State of Florida as a member of the State University System," Rasmussen said. "Members of the SUS receive funding from the Florida Legislature to support the educational needs of the citizens of Florida. Degrees at public institutions provide a path for students to pursue high-quality, yet affordable, post-secondary education through the support of the state."

3. School accreditation: UWF is SACS COC accredited. Accreditation is intended to assure constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of higher education institutions and programs, and to help those institutions and programs improve, according to the SACS COC website. These outcomes are achieved through rigorous internal and external review processes during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

"UWF received its initial accreditation in 1969 and was reaffirmed in 2015," Rasmussen said. "Accreditation provides students, the community, and employers with the confidence that the institution is meeting its responsibilities to all constituents."

4. Options: UWF offers 12 bachelor’s degrees, 45 master’s degrees and 35 certificates and diplomas. The university also offers 19 graduate degrees in an online format.

"These degree programs range from masters (17) to specialist (one) to doctoral (one)," Rasmussen said. "Approximately 2,000 graduate students participate in online programs."

5. Recommendation rate: UWF has a recommendation rate of 100 percent, according to GradReports.com.

"UWF offers quality and affordable programs, with deep student-faculty interaction, to help prepare students for their 'what's next,'" Rasmussen said. "Faculty and staff support students throughout their academic experiences to help them realize their personal and professional goals, while, at the same time, ensuring that students reach outcomes designed to ensure their future success.

"Students feel supported, successful and engaged as evidenced by the comments on the GradReports."

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Further reading:

The 2018 Most Affordable Online Colleges Offering Doctoral Programs rankings can be found at: https://www.onlineu.org/most-affordable-colleges/doctoral-degrees

The methodology for the ranking is available here: https://www.onlineu.org/most-affordable-colleges/2018-overall-methodology