Going to college online can be a smart option. In addition to the scheduling flexibility, many online students are able to save a lot of money. Every dollar that you’re not paying toward room and board, or commuting costs, can go toward your tuition.
If Liberty University is a school that you’re considering for your online education, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good use of your tuition dollar. Here we’ll take an overall look at the school, take a deep dive into student reviews, and give our overall assessment.
Here are the basics you need to know about Liberty University before you enroll.
Liberty University: the basics
Liberty University is based in Lynchburg, VA. The school has a physical campus that serves roughly 15,000 students. The online college has enrollment above 90,000.
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Liberty is best known for being one of largest private Christian colleges in the world. This non-profit school was cofounded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. His son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., is the current president.
Students are expected to take a certain number of credits that focus on religion.
The school’s distance education program began in 1985, when it took advantage of the VCR craze. Students could sign up to complete certain courses of study via videotape. After the Internet boom, Liberty began offering courses online.
Today, Liberty offers online programs that allow students to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.
Undergraduate programs include:
Teaching English as a Second Language
Biblical and Educational Studies
Christian Leadership and Management
Early Childhood Education
Music – Worship Studies
Nursing (RN to BSN)
Nursing (RN to BSN) – Global Studies
Nursing (RN to BSN to MSN)
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. This is the regional accrediting body that reviews post-secondary institutions in the southern and southeastern United States.
Why that matters: This accreditation is recognized by other institutions, making it easier for you to transfer credits if you choose to continue your studies elsewhere.
This accreditation also means that your degree will generally be viewed as valid by employers and people within your field.
Does Liberty University accept Pell Grants and FAFSA?
Yes, Liberty accepts the same federal and state financial aid that would be available at traditional schools. That includes Pell Grants and all financial aid distributed through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is the means by which most students receive the bulk of their financial aid.
Because not all online schools accept the FAFSA, this is a great perk if you’re considering enrolling at Liberty. Many college students get "free money" for college in the form of federal grants by filling out the FAFSA. For example, the Pell Grant could be worth up to $6,095 per school year. If you have exceptional need, you could qualify for an additional $4,000 per year in the form of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
Beyond federal aid, Liberty accepts state grants and scholarships as well. The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG) could be worth up to $3,270 for eligible undergraduate students who live in Virginia.
Students may also use scholarship money from private organizations, so if you're considering enrolling here be sure to check into any scholarship opportunities from community organizations, local businesses, and other sources. We recommend the Scholly app for searching out opportunities.
Online college student reviews
Now let’s find out what Liberty's online college student have to say.
However, before we dive in, remember two things:
People are more likely to leave reviews online after a bad experience. Many institutions have more negative reviews than positive.
It’s impossible to know if reviewers did what was required of them. While we want to give reviewers the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, take negative reviews with a grain of salt.
Also, keep in mind that no matter where you go to school, you get out of it what you put into it. On-time assignments, hard work, and up-to-date tuition payments will certainly add to a more-positive experience wherever you go.
Note: Liberty has both in-person and online degree programs. The follow sentiments pertain only to the online study programs.
Several students mentioned that they found Liberty to be extremely affordable compared to other online educational programs. Reviewers also noted discounts for military service people and teachers.
Plus, as we mentioned above, the school offers many opportunities to take advantage of federal, state, and private forms of financial aid.
Con: Lots of reading
Students across several programs mentioned that their coursework involved a lot of reading and writing, due to the nature of the course delivery. Multiple people noted that the online-course technology is not advanced enough to offer a multimedia experience yet.
Because of this, some students mentioned turning to YouTube to augment or replace reading assignments.
Multiple working professionals reported that attending Liberty was an excellent way to extend their knowledge and and advance their careers. Typical sentiments included that they liked the rigorous coursework, easy access to professors, and smooth admission and enrollment.
Pro/Con: Easy admission
One reviewer noted that because of Liberty’s admissions standards, it wasn’t unusual to end up in a class with people who were not of the same intellectual standing, which could impair the pace of the class.
On the other hand, a veteran noted that it could be hard to produce the paperwork needed to enter other online schools (GREs, references, etc.). Enrolling at Liberty was a much smoother process.
Pro/Con: Must be a self-starter
With any online degree, it's important to be diligent with coursework. Leaving things until the last minute or allowing assignments to stack up can make your experience much more stressful. It's the same with Liberty. Multiple students noted that being self-motivated was a key to achieving success.
On the other hand, it's important to acknowledge that not everyone is cut out to complete a self-directed program.
Tip: Before enrolling at any online school, give serious consideration to whether you're suited to an online learning environment, or if you'd do better in a classroom.
Pro/Con: Focus on religion
Of course, many students decide to attend Liberty precisely because of its focus on Christian education. Several students reported that they enjoyed being able to talk about their Christian beliefs in an open way, and that they were encouraged to connect those beliefs to their studies across the board.
However, there were some complaints that even non-religious classes tended to get derailed by discussions of religion. One reviewer complained that in online discussion forums, there may be several quotes pertaining to Biblical passages rather than a true discussion of the course material.
Another reviewer stated that discussions could become unpleasant when more people of different faiths attempted to counter some of the Christian ideals.
An additional item of note here: A counseling student stated that the program required all the secular training normally needed in the program of study, plus additional training to filter the curriculum through a Christian viewpoint. While the reviewer seemed to take this a positive, they did want to note that it created substantial additional work. Another student in the Education Leadership program had similar sentiments.
Con: May need to find own practicum sites
A student in the Master's of Public Health program noted that they had to find their own practicum site and claimed that they were nearly forced to drop out because of the difficulty involved.
Tip: If you're signing up for an online program that requires on-site work to complete your degree, be sure to investigate how that process works before you enroll.
Pro: Easy to reach staff via phone; good tech support
Several students noted that they had extremely positive experiences trying to reach different staff departments via phone. One reviewer stated that some of the departments have later hours to accommodate the online learners who may call after the workday.
Another reviewer noted that the school did a good job of providing tech support and training for older learners who may not be able to navigate some of the tech aspect as easily. The school has produced several YouTube videos to show students how do things in a step-by-step manner.
Liberty gets especially high marks from people who appreciate the Christian aspect of the school. While Liberty accepts students from all faiths, you should have a high degree of comfort with discussions about Christian faith if you decide to attend, as even non-religious classes are likely to touch upon Christianity. Depending upon your personal views, that may be a pro or a con.
If you're not a religion major, you may prefer to focus solely on the core aspects of your program of study to prepare yourself for work in the professional world. Several reviewers noted that even non-religion classes could easily get sidetracked by conversations around faith.
The fact that Liberty accepts federal financial aid is also a major plus, allowing students to take full advantage of grants, scholarships, and loans that can reduce the overall cost of college. Reducing student loan debt is a smart strategy, no matter where you enroll.
Liberty's accreditation, as we mentioned above, is the same as other brick-and-mortar institutions, meaning that a degree from Liberty will largely be seen as legit in most fields. Not all online universities carry this accreditation.
Since college is such a big investment, it's always wise to do a bit of comparison shopping before enrolling anywhere. With so many online education programs popping up these days, you'll certainly have plenty of options to choose from.
Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer