While overall higher-education enrollment in the U.S. is virtually stagnant, online enrollment is skyrocketing, and the recent repeal of a federal rule requiring colleges to provide at least half of their instruction on campus will boost it more. By early 2008, one out of 10 college students will be enrolled in an online degree program, Boston-based market research firm Eduventures estimated last year.
Public schools are driving much of the growth. Overcoming skepticism among some faculty members, state universities are capitalizing on their traditional advantages — quality education at affordable prices — to attract a nontraditional student body: online learners who often live out of state. What’s more, the online programs generate millions of dollars that can be ploughed back into university operations.