Are Small Colleges Less Expensive?

When considering a college education, cost is invariably a concern, and it’s a little bit easier to find the least-affordable instead of most-affordable choices. According to Business Insider, the most expensive colleges in America had a total annual cost of almost $70,000, including tuition and fees. Most of the most-expensive schools were private colleges and universities and many of them were smaller schools, with fewer than 2,000 enrolled students. The most-expensive school in the U.S. News and World Report 2017 surveys was a small college, Harvey Mudd in Claremont, CA. This specialized engineering school isn’t typical, however. The price ranges for small colleges vary from inexpensive to very expensive. One example is the consortium of smaller schools, the Claremont Colleges, all of which charge more than $50,000 a year and appear on most-expensive college lists. One school that charges no tuition, Berea College in Kentucky, is both small and affordable. Whether the school you choose is publicly- or privately-funded affects the price, as well as location and majors offered.

Most Affordable Small Private Colleges and Universities

Many of the least-expensive colleges and universities are located in the southern United States. Rust College, Tougaloo College, and Blue Mountain College, with tuition ranging from $9,500 to $11,200 a year, are among the least-expensive small colleges, and all are located in Mississippi. At $11,700 a year, William Carey University is also located in Mississippi. Other small, less-expensive colleges include Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky, which charges $11,550 a year, and LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee, which charges $10,900 a year.

Regional Colleges

Regional Colleges typically have smaller enrollments and a more limited choice of degree programs than national universities or state-funded college and university systems. They may not be the most-affordable options, but they are more affordable than Ivy League or other high-priced colleges and universities. Some of them offer in-state tuition that is significantly lower than out-of-state. Jarvis Christian College has tuition and fees of $11,700, and Wiley College has fees and tuition of $11,828. Both colleges have fewer than 1,000 students and are located in Texas. College of the Ozarks in Missouri allows students to work on campus to pay for their tuition and fees, which are less than average at $18,930 a year.

Related: The 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America

Smaller Public Colleges and Universities

Many publicly-funded colleges and universities are more affordable than their private counterparts, provided students are coming from their respective states or regions. Not all public colleges and universities are large, and some have satellite campuses with smaller enrollments and class sizes. Midland College in Texas charges $3,168 for in-state tuition and $4,128 for out of state tuition. Fees and tuition at Hawaii’s public college system are only $3,000 a year for Hawaiian residents.

Many smaller colleges and universities offer grants and scholarships to students which help to lower their officially published costs. Cooper Union is a prestigious school which offers grants to more than half of its enrolled students based on financial need, lowering the price tag by more than $10,000 a year on average. Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania offers grants to over 90% of its incoming students, lowering tuition by about $10,000 a year. U.S. News and World Report offers rankings of colleges and universities by “best value,” which takes the total cost, amount of aid provided, and overall college quality into consideration when assigning which colleges offer the best return on investment.