Study: Texas is the Best State for Online College Students and Vermont is the Worst

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A new study of distance education opportunities and earning potential for college students revealed Texas is the best state for students and Vermont is the worst.

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The top states for distance learning reflect opportunities for both the prospective student, in terms of availability and cost, and the college graduate, in terms of employment opportunities

Based on its balance of distance education and post-graduation employment opportunities, including robust job growth projections, Texas is the top state in the U.S. for attending an online college, according to the 2014 Best States for Online College Students study. Vermont ranked last as the worst state to attend online college, driven by limited distance education affordability and stagnant employment opportunities.

Texas grabbed the top spot through several top 10 national rankings, including a No. 1 ranking for earning potential and job growth and a No. 2 rank for distance education availability. Washington ranked second in the study with strong scores in Internet value, earning potential, and student debt rates. Georgia closely followed Washington in the No. 3 position, powered by high marks in distance learning availability, low tuition rates and top 10 national scores in earning potential and job growth.

“The top states for distance learning reflect opportunities for both the prospective student, in terms of availability and cost, and the college graduate, in terms of employment opportunities,” says Johanna Sorrentino, senior site editor and co-author of the study. “Based on this data, residents in these states have a better chance of turning an online degree into a stable, well-paying career.”

A combination of high tuition costs and a lack of distance education availability, coupled with annual earnings for Bachelor’s degree holders that rank 49th nationally led to Vermont ranking as the worst state for students to attend online colleges. Maine finds itself as the No. 2 worst state, as a result of bottom 5 scores in distance education affordability, availability and earning potential for Bachelor’s degree graduates.

With annual salaries for Bachelor’s degree graduates in the bottom 10 nationally, the most expensive in-state tuition for distance education programs, and low scores in program availability, Rhode Island landed as the No. 3 worst state for online college students.

“Because distance education breaks down access barriers to higher education, location and program cost are usually the two most important factors,” says Sorrentino. “It is important for students in these states to be aware of the current roadblocks to online learning and employment that they might face.”

Here are the 10 best U.S. states for online colleges in 2014, according to

1. Texas
2. Washington
3. Georgia
4. Utah
5. Florida
6. Louisiana
7. Virginia
8. Kansas
9. Colorado
10. Arkansas

Here are the 10 worst U.S. states for online colleges in 2014, according to

1. Vermont
2. Maine
3. Rhode Island
4. Alaska
5. New Hampshire
6. Connecticut
7. Oregon
8. Minnesota
9. Hawaii
10. South Dakota

For additional details on this study, please see the articles on the Best States for Online College Students, Worst States for Online College Students and the full 50-state list for 2014.


This analysis of the Best and Worst States for Online College Students is based on each state's Education and Earnings Quality Factors, a proprietary metric developed by that considers the following:

  •     Internet quality, based on data from Ookla
  •     In-state tuition rates, based on data from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
  •     Distance education programs, based on data from IPEDS
  •     Industry growth for 2008–2018 and 2012–2022, based on data from state departments of labor
  •     State job growth, based on data from Arizona State University
  •     Median salary for Bachelor’s degree holders, 2013, based on data from the US Census Bureau

About specializes in college finance tips, advice and guides, and also provides various tools that help match students to quality colleges. is dedicated to helping prospective college students find—and pay for—the best college that meets their needs. is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to research, find and select the products, services and brands that meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit

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