How should a prospective student compare online colleges before enrolling in a distance-learning U.S. educational institution?

Students wishing to enroll in a distance-learning U.S. educational institute must compare online colleges in advance. The very first thing a prospective student must check for is the accreditation status of all the short-listed universities. This can be checked by logging into the U.S. Department of Education website, which has an extensive database of almost all of the formally accredited institutions in the U.S. Another convenient way to compare these online colleges is by looking through university rankings published every year by various regional media and educational bodies.