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Connecticut residents benefit from high wages and a strong local economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state's annual mean wage approached $60,000 in 2017 , compared to the national average of $50,600 . However, recent graduates face stiff competition in the state's job market. The BLS reports that Connecticut's unemployment rate was 4.2% in August 2018. The state holds the 13th highest unemployment rate in the country.
Despite these figures, Connecticut boasts a rich array of educational opportunities for distance learners in state and beyond. Candidates may earn a degree at one of the state's public colleges or pursue an online certificate from Yale University. This page provides an overview of the best online colleges in Connecticut, including information on tuition and fees, financial aid opportunities, and possible career paths after graduation.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Connecticut
In every state and economic climate, candidates with some form of postsecondary education enjoy better job prospects than individuals who hold only a high school diploma. According to the Connecticut Department of Labor , many of the state's fastest growing occupations require a college degree. The projected employment rate for operations research analysts describes a 29.6% growth rate through 2026. While this profession requires at least a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer to hire individuals with a master's degree. The Department of Labor also projects strong demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants during the same period -- two positions that also require graduate-level education.
In addition to improved prospects, earning a degree can boost your earning potential. In 2017, the average operations research analyst earned $81,390, while nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $103,880. In the same year, physician assistants commanded a $104,860 median salary.
Unemployment Rate, November 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
Search, Compare and Research Online Connecticut Colleges
Cost of Online Colleges in Connecticut
Most schools charge similar tuition rates for online and on-campus students; however, distance learners often avoid many of the costs associated with campus life, such as transportation, facility fees, and room and board. Some institutions waive certain fees for online students, although others charge a per-credit technology fee for web-based courses. Be sure you understand a program's total cost before making a commitment.
Connecticut students pay slightly more for their degrees than students in other states. As the table below demonstrates, the average in-state tuition at a Connecticut community college exceeds the national average by about $1,000, while the average in-state tuition at a four-year institution costs about $2,500 more per year.
Connecticut community college online courses present a more affordable way to earn your associate degree, complete a bachelor's degree, or enroll in graduate-level courses. Community colleges charge significantly lower tuition rates than state universities or private institutions, and the state makes it easy to transfer credits from one public school to another.
Students can also cut costs by researching and applying for state and private financial aid opportunities. Read on to find more information about scholarships and grants for students in Connecticut.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Connecticut
Most public colleges and universities offer tuition discounts to in-state students. For example, Connecticut residents pay approximately $13,000 a year to attend one of the state's four-year institutions, while nonresidents pay upwards of $32,500 per year.
If you live in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont, you may qualify for substantially discounted tuition at certain Connecticut schools through the New England Board of Higher Education's (NEBHE) Tuition Break program. This regional exchange program saved approximately 9,000 New England residents around $60 million during the 2016-17 academic year.
Qualifying candidates must reside in a New England state for at least one year prior to enrollment, and attend one of 82 participating public colleges and universities. To see if your program offers discounted tuition to students from neighboring states, check the NEBHE's online directory of participating schools .
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year In-State||Public Four-Year Out-of-State|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Connecticut
Paying for your college degree begins with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses the information you enter on the FAFSA to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC, in turn, determines your eligibility for various forms of financial support, including federal grants, work-study jobs, and low-interest or forgivable student loans. Connecticut also uses your federal EFC to determine if you qualify for funding through its own need-based grant programs, such as the Roberta A. Willis Grant.
Along with federal and state aid, be sure to research private scholarships available to Connecticut students. The Connecticut Community Foundation , for example, awards several scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, community service, and professional aspirations. You can review a list of additional private scholarship and grant opportunities below.
Remember, you do not need to pay back scholarships, grants, or work-study earnings, but you do need to pay back student loans, as well as any interest that has accrued on those loans. As private loan companies generally charge higher interest rates than government agencies, try to limit or avoid using private loans to finance your education.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Connecticut College Students
The scholarships below are only a few of the financial aid opportunities available to Connecticut students. Other programs support students based on background, professional goals, or major.
Who Can Apply: The Roberta B. Willis Scholarship program supports Connecticut residents who rank in the top 20% of their class and score higher than 1200 on the SAT or 25 on the ACT. Qualifying applicants must also demonstrate financial need.
Amount: Up to $5,250 per year
Who Can Apply: The need-based Roberta B. Willis grants also support Connecticut students, but maintain different academic eligibility guidelines.
Amount: Up to $4,500 per year
Who Can Apply: Members of underrepresented groups who hope to become teachers may apply after being nominated by their school's dean. Recipients must commit to working in a Connecticut public school after graduation.
Amount: Up to $5,000 per year
Who Can Apply: This merit-based award is open to Connecticut high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional academic performance and community involvement. Applicants must maintain a 2.5 GPA or better and submit an essay.
Who Can Apply: This program provides funding for candidates studying hospitality, travel, or tourism. Eligible students must reside in Connecticut, attend an accredited institution, and submit two letters of recommendation.
Who Can Apply: Aspiring journalists can apply by submitting writing samples and an original essay. Applicants must live and attend school in Connecticut.
Amount: Up to $2,500
Who Can Apply: The Connecticut Community Foundation sponsors awards for students enrolled in Connecticut college online courses. Most require applicants to hold a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Who Can Apply: Some Foundation scholarships maintain unique eligibility criteria, such as the Sergeant Felix M. DelGreco, Jr. Scholarship for children of current Connecticut National Guard members.
Who Can Apply: The Environmental Professionals' Organization of Connecticut offers scholarships to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students pursuing environmental careers.
Who Can Apply: Candidates must be students in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Awards are administered based on academic achievement, community service, and financial need.
Best Majors for Online Students in Connecticut
Attending one of the best online colleges in Connecticut can position you for success in many different fields. However, industries like healthcare and information technology are projected to experience stronger job growth in the coming years. Students who major in these areas may enjoy better employment prospects and higher earning potential. The Connecticut Department of Labor projects exceptional statewide demand for both physician assistants and nurse practitioners through 2026, with employment growth rates reaching 28.4% and 28.6% respectively. Software developers should see even more opportunities, with a projected 29.3% growth rate in the same period.
Many of these roles come with above-average salaries. The average Connecticut software developer, for example, earns $104,989 each year, while a physician assistant brings in an annual average of $117,439. Nurse practitioners command some of the state's highest salaries, with average earnings exceeding $120,000 per year.
NursingNursing students complete a variety of core and specialized courses on topics such as patient care technologies, epidemiology, and evidence-based practice. They must also complete a certain number of clinical experience hours to qualify for licensure. While most states allow associate degree-holders to become registered nurses, nurse practitioners must hold at least a master's degree.
PsychologyCandidates planning to pursue a health-related master's degree often attend online psychology colleges in Connecticut while completing their bachelor's degree. Offering coursework in areas like social psychology, cognitive assessment, and research design, psychology programs provide learners with an ideal foundation for graduate-level study.
Software EngineeringA software engineering degree can lead to diverse professional opportunities. Students who want to design new applications or programs can study programming languages, algorithms, and operating systems. Individuals who hope to take on managerial positions in information technology usually combine this technical coursework with classes in project management and business administration.
Resources for Online College Students in Connecticut
Connecticut Office of Higher Education : The Connecticut Office of Higher Education provides a variety of resources for college students and their families, offering guidance on choosing a program, transferring credits, and paying for higher education. Special information for veterans, students with disabilities, and distance learners is also available.
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities : Enrolling roughly 85,000 students, Connecticut's state system consists of four public universities, 12 community colleges, and one state college. The system's online portal features information on available academic programs, admission requirements, and financial aid opportunities. The systems also offers free, non-credit online courses.
Connecticut Higher Education Trust : The Connecticut Higher Education Trust counsels and supports students and families who are working to pay for college. The Trust manages 529 college savings accounts on the state's behalf and provides information on other age-based, guaranteed, and multi-fund investment options.
New England Board of Higher Education : The New England Board of Higher Education works to improve collaboration between state agencies and public institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont through research and advocacy. The Board's Tuition Break program also provides substantial tuition discounts for students seeking degrees in neighboring states.
Connecticut Community Foundation : In 2017, the Connecticut Community Foundation awarded close to $1 million in scholarships. Students can easily apply for both general and specialized scholarship opportunities by submitting a single application. The Foundation also helps to organize College Goal Sunday Connecticut, a series of regional events that provide assistance for students completing the FAFSA.
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