By BVS Staff
Let’s face it – deciding where you want to go to college is one of the more important decisions you’ll make in your life. While it’s certainly possible to enjoy a decent educational experience no matter where you go, it’s useful to consider your options carefully. From academic quality to the selection of majors to campus size to local weather, it can be overwhelming to try to weigh all the pros and cons. We certainly can’t predict the best fit for you, but we do know that one factor typically makes it onto everyone’s list: cost. Especially if you want to go to a large school with a seemingly endless list of opportunities and resources, it can be difficult to find a school that fits your budget. And if you want to go to school out of state, the search becomes even harder.
Convenient Online Options
For those interested in online options, see our ranking of best cheap online degrees.
The 100 Top Affordable Colleges Ranking Methodology
To start, we created a list of all the public and private (non-profit), four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer primarily bachelor’s degrees or above. (In other words, we didn’t include community colleges). Now, because we have another article that focuses on the most affordable small schools, we chose here to define “universities” specifically as mid- to large-size institutions. Therefore, we limited our search to schools with an undergraduate enrollment greater than 4,000 students. And since we wanted to focus on traditional academic programs, we excluded online and vocational colleges from our list as well.
There are nearly 600 schools that fit the above criteria. So to identify the best cheap colleges, we collected information on each one’s net price. This is a figure that the National Center for Education Statistics calculates annually for all postsecondary institutions in the United States. To do so, they subtract “the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance.” Note that “total cost of attendance” = published tuition and required fees (lower if in-district or in-state) + average cost of books and supplies + the weighted average for room/board + any other published expenses.
Only the 100 universities with the lowest net prices made our final cut. Below you’ll find a brief description of each school, along with their calculated net cost, location, and a link to their website. Keep reading to see which of the nation’s best cheap colleges are near you!
100. SUNY College at Old Westbury
Old Westbury, NY
When SUNY College at Old Westbury opened its doors in 1965, it did so with an eye towards inclusivity and experimentation. In fact, its first few graduating classes were some of the most ethnically and racially diverse in the country. Today, the school maintains this legacy through an emphasis on global-mindedness and community involvement. Its unique Community Action, Learning, and Leadership Program, for example, offers service-learning opportunities to help students marry their studies with civic engagement. And when it comes to value, Old Westbury delivers. Not only is the school one of the most affordable accredited colleges in the country, but it also provides access to courses and resources throughout the SUNY system.
Average Net Price: $10,753/yr
Student Body: : 5,183
99. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Not only is Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis one of the cheapest accredited universities in the country, but it’s also one of the best research schools in the state. The school even runs a designated Center for Research and Learning that pairs undergrads with faculty mentors conducting research in everything from organic chemistry to philanthropy. Outside of the lab, Jaguars can take advantage of more than 350 academic programs in 18 different schools. And if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, fear not: IUPUI will let you design an interdisciplinary major that meets your individual interests.
Average Net Price: $10,740/yr
Student Body: : 25,859
98. Indiana University-Southeast
New Albany, IN
Located just six miles from Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana University Southeast boasts a small-campus setting with easy access to an urban center. Although the school rightfully earns its spot on this top affordable universities ranking, it offers plenty more than just low tuition. In particular, this college stands out for its commitment to fostering an inclusive, inviting campus environment. Non-traditional students, such as adult learners and veterans, are welcome to attend. The university also provides “safe zone” training, actively encourages respectful language, and supports a robust initiative to combat sexual violence. As far as academics go, you can choose from more than 50 degree programs, certificates, and licenses in a variety of fields.
Average Net Price: $10,690/yr
Student Body: : 6,944
97. Weber State University
Weber State’s 100+ undergraduate majors and concentrations should provide any student with a program that meets her needs. At Weber, you’ll find a mix of trade-focused options (such as associate’s programs in automotive services), research-driven STEM options, and plenty of traditional liberal arts majors. And as one of Utah’s best cheap colleges, those degrees come at a low cost. You can also apply for one of Weber’s many scholarships — they offer need-based, merit-based, and activity-based financial assistance. Students who come from households earning $40,000 or less can also apply for the general Weber Dream program, which covers both tuition and fees for qualifying students.
Average Net Price: $10,669/yr
Student Body: : 31,790
96. Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY
The four campuses that comprise Western Kentucky University have plenty to offer: beautiful locations, an emerging focus on research, and award-winning academic programs. More importantly, they also offer a bright future: after earning a top affordable degree, WKU grads take an average of just 48 days to find a job. The majority also report feeling over-prepared for their career of choice. As part of this rock-solid employment preparation, WKU offers its Hilltoppers executive apprenticeships, career coaching, and a bevy of other opportunities. You can also take advantage of the school’s many study abroad opportunities, which include everything from short trips (just a few weeks) to year-long excursions.
Average Net Price: $10,638/yr
Student Body: : 20,547
95. University of North Carolina-Pembroke
Founded in 1887 in Robeson County – home to North Carolina’s largest American Indian tribe – Pembroke has long been dedicated to educating the country’s oldest inhabitants. Even today, a full 15% of the student body identifies as Native American. This affordable accredited university also boasts a significant military population thanks to its proximity to Fort Bragg. As such, Pembroke has established a dedicated office that provided tailored resources to active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their families. These students can get help with things like transitioning to college life, applying for military-specific benefits, and exploring suitable career options.
Average Net Price: $10,613/yr
Student Body: : 6,557
94. Rutgers University-Newark
With the cachet of a big-name university behind it, you might expect Rutgers – Newark to come with a hefty price tag. In reality, it’s one of the cheapest accredited universities in the country. The school offers more than 40 undergraduate and 50 professional/graduate degrees, along with various continuing education programs. No matter what level of study you choose, you’ll benefit from the school’s highly educated professors. Not only do 99% of faculty members hold doctoral or JD degrees, but an impressive number have also earned prestigious accolades like the Fulbright scholarship and the National Book Award. Plus, the 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio means that you’ll get close attention from your professors when you need it most.
Average Net Price: $10,569/yr
Student Body: : 9,529
93. Eastern New Mexico University
You won’t pay anything to apply to Eastern New Mexico University, a benefit that is emblematic of the school’s approach to offering affordable accredited degrees. Ranked as one of the cheapest schools in the region, ENMU emphasizes active learning and the value of the individual. You’ll have access to mentorship from faculty and staff who want to enhance your education, and you can reach out to one of four multicultural affairs offices for support if you want to interact with others who share your background and cultural experiences. (For example, the school has a Native American Multicultural Affairs department.)
Average Net Price: $10,562/yr
Student Body: : 5,781
92. Northwest Missouri State University
Even if you live outside Missouri, you can still take advantage of Northwest Missouri State University’s competitive tuition rate. This top affordable college offers the “Bearcat Advantage” program, which offers in-state rates to non-residents based on their high-school GPAs and standardized test scores. Once enrolled, you’ll have access to quite a few academic and professional experiences, including career-training opportunities. In fact, the latter are so popular that nearly 95% of students take part in at least one, whether it be an internship, practicum, or other unique activity. Agriculture majors in particular will benefit from opportunities in the school’s Horticulture Complex, dairy, and 448-acre laboratory farm.
Average Net Price: $10,548/yr
Student Body: : 6,311
91. California State University-San Marcos
San Marcos, CA
Not only is California State University – San Marcos one of the best cheap accredited colleges in the state, but it has a real commitment to offering affordable education to its community. In fact, more than 80% of students receive financial assistance of some kind! CSU San Marcos works to further reduce costs through a variety of innovative programs, such as an NSF-funded grant initiative to support computer science majors from low-income families. This affordability pays off by making college accessible to a wider crowd; more than half of the school’s graduates report being the first in their family to earn a B.A.
Average Net Price: $10,543/yr
Student Body: : 12,644
90. College of Staten Island CUNY
Staten Island, NY
With its impressive array of honors classes, learning communities, and opportunity programs (which offer enhanced support), CSI – CUNY seeks to provide each student with a unique college experience tailored to their individual needs. For example, motivated learners will appreciate the Macaulay Honors College’s unique – and challenging – curriculum, while aspiring math and science teachers can enroll in the Teacher Education Honors Academy. And many of CSI – CUNY’s programs incorporate work at one of the school’s two research centers, giving you hands-on practice as you earn some of New York’s most affordable degrees.
Average Net Price: $10,534/yr
Student Body: : 15,614
89. CUNY Queens College
Nestled in the heart of Queens, CUNY Queens College consistently earns accolades for being one of the cheapest accredited colleges in the country. It’s also one of the most diverse and reflects the makeup of the surrounding community. The campus is a vibrant mix of cultures and styles – a feature that pairs well with the school’s strong focus on the arts. In particular, Queens College’s visual and performing arts center is a hotbed of creative activity, hosting frequent guest musicians, artists, and entertainers as well as student performance groups. Queens also recently introduced a two-day arts festival that allows art, music, and theater majors to showcase their talents to a wider community.
Average Net Price: $10,515/yr
Student Body: : 20,154
88. New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM
New Mexico State University offers research-driven, innovation-based programs at a great price. You’ll have opportunities to assist with real-world research in myriad fields, from animal science to aerospace. What’s more, this top affordable university works to ensure that its research programs and other initiatives have a measurable impact on society. There’s even a dedicated Economic Development Department, which studies the needs within the state and then works to address those needs in collaboration with NMSU programs, faculty, and outreach groups. The school also boasts a long-standing commitment to diversity. Not only is it currently a designated Hispanic-serving institution, but it began admitting minorities in the early 20th century, well before most of its peers.
Average Net Price: $10,501/yr
Student Body: : 14,169
87. University of South Florida-St Petersburg
St. Petersburg, FL
If you’re looking for a small school on this best cheap colleges ranking, USF – St. Petersburg might fit the bill. With just under 5,000 undergrads enrolled during its 2016 school year, it offers top-ranked academics in a close-knit setting. In particular, the Kate Teidemann College of Business offers quite a few popular and well-regarded degree programs. For a small institution, St. Petersburg also supports an impressive athletic track record. The sailing teams are some of the best in the nation, perhaps thanks to all that nearby waterfront, and it even boasts an NCAA football team.
Average Net Price: $10,461/yr
Student Body: : 4,866
86. Purdue University Northwest
Although Purdue University Northwest might look new on paper (it was established in 2014), this top affordable college brought together the best of two existing local institutions. Highlights include nationally ranked engineering programs, a supportive Academic Center for Excellence, and a rapidly growing student retention rate. The school offers more than 70 programs, including some unique majors (including a BS in Leadership, teaching options for foreign language degrees, and a whole suite of focused communications options). You can round off your academics by joining a student group — with more than 70 organizations, you should be able to find one that appeals.
Average Net Price: $10,445/yr
Student Body: : 10,317
85. West Virginia University
This cheap accredited college combines a small-town feel with easy access to the big city.
Situated between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., West Virginia University offers students the best of both worlds. You’ll spend most of your time on the main campus in Morgantown, which frequently tops lists of the best small cities in America. You will also have easy access to some of the biggest cities on the Eastern Seaboard. But WVU has more than a great location going for it. In fact, the university boasts some of the best affordable degrees for undergrads. U.S. News and World Report even rank its Chemical Engineering, English, and Political Science programs as some of the most prestigious in the country.
Average Net Price: $10,405/yr
Student Body: : 24,343
84. University of North Georgia
Although the University of North Georgia has plenty to offer almost any student, aspiring military members, in particular, will want to give this school a look. It’s just one of six senior military colleges in the country, and its Corps of Cadets program offers participants rigorous leadership training for all four years. You can even participate in army training during the summer; in the recent past, the school has sent students to Pathfinder School, Helicopter Flight Training, Air Assault School, and more. Aside from the military opportunities, this top affordable college stands out for its College Assistance Migrant Program (which helps migrants and seasonal workers), robust honors program, and D-II athletics.
Average Net Price: $10,299/yr
Student Body: : 20,064
83. University of West Florida
Pensacola’s University of West Florida is a college on the rise. In the past 10 years alone, it’s added several new buildings to campus – including a state-of-the-art College of Business Education Center – and undertaken an ambitious reorganization of its entire academic structure. Yet it remains one of the cheapest accredited universities in the state of Florida, offering more than 45 undergraduate and 35 master’s degrees between its five academic colleges. The school also provides some great online programs, including hard-to-find options such as a B.A. in Maritime Studies and a B.S. in Career and Technical Education.
Average Net Price: $10,282/yr
Student Body: : 12,463
82. Savannah State University
If you’d like to attend an HBCU that also ranks as one of the most affordable accredited universities in the country, Savannah State University should be a top contender. For more than 120 years, Savannah State has proudly offered educational opportunities to students of color. Today, it continues to lead the way in the region by rolling out relevant programs that reflect current trends in education and the job market. For example, it was the first school in Georgia to offer a bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The school’s focus on STEM programs is also to its credit; SSU research has led to important work in fields as diverse as space travel and medicine.
Average Net Price: $10,282/yr
Student Body: : 5,266
81. University of North Texas
UNT wants all its students to feel welcome, and it isn’t ashamed to admit it. In fact, the president recently released a statement declaring the school’s unequivocal support for undocumented learners. But regardless of your citizenship status, know that UNT has a bevy of academic, emotional, and physical support resources at the ready to make sure your educational experience is a positive one. This welcoming attitude is indicative of the school’s larger vision: to collaborate globally with diverse communities while preparing students to be responsible world citizens. And in support of their goal, this top cheap accredited college offers a bevy of grants and scholarships that make study abroad opportunities more affordable for budget-conscious students.
Average Net Price: $10,202/yr
Student Body: : 34,448
80. Prairie View A & M University
Prairie View, TX
PVAMU is a historically black college that is dedicated not only to the success of its ethnically diverse student body but also to its community at large. But what does that look like in practice? Take, for example, this affordable accredited university’s College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. CAHS’s “Cooperative Extension Program” places researchers, professors, and student volunteers on the front lines of community development. Volunteer teams gain experience applying research-based knowledge to the day-to-day activities of small farm producers, families, and early-stage businesses. With this action-based mindset, you can only imagine the impacting careers of PVAMU graduates, who have pursued bachelor’s degrees in education, nursing, architecture, psychology, and much more.
Average Net Price: $10,166/yr
Student Body: : 7,650
79. California State University-East Bay
Sixty-one percent of CSU East Bay students are first-generation college students, and CSUEB is dedicated to their success. The school’s progressive values are manifested in efforts such as its Campus Civic Action Plan and paid “sustainability ambassador” internships. Another way this affordable accredited university supports its diverse student body is by offering flexible learning options. For example, those with busy schedules may find it easier to take classes at either of two satellite campuses (in Oakland and Concord) or enroll in one of the university’s ten online degree programs. Cal State East Bay also puts extra attention on freshmen and encourages them to participate in first year “learning communities” that are designed to foster relationships with classmates and professors. Many even feature unique titles like “Humans in the Natural World,” “Atoms are Everything,” and “Earth Crisis!”
Average Net Price: $10,131/yr
Student Body: : 14,540
78. Cameron University
As one of the cheapest accredited universities in Oklahoma, CU offers financial incentives that continue to benefit students even after they’ve graduated.
Over 50 percent of students graduate from Cameron University without any student loan debt. That’s a triumph by any standard, but especially when you consider all that CU has to offer. Not only is this one of the most affordable universities around, but its average 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures that learners reap the benefits of small class sizes and personalized attention. And it gets better! CU ups the ante with its “Cameron University Guarantee” for undergraduates. Whether you majored in computer science or theatre arts, if your employer identifies a critical deficiency in a core subject related to your degree, CU will provide additional education to strengthen your skills – completely free of charge!
Average Net Price: $10,050/yr
Student Body: : 5,725
77. Murray State University
Murray State is focused on preparing its students for successful careers. Bachelor’s degree candidates can choose from 66 different degree programs, which together offer a whopping 97 specialized tracks! Indeed, career opportunities abound at one of the best affordable universities in Kentucky. For example, Applied Physics majors who want to strengthen their appeal in the job market can enroll in the Pre-MBA track for a quick transition into the school’s Master of Business Administration Program. Advertising students, on the other hand, can join the “Ads Club,” a chapter of the American Advertising Federation. And majors of all subjects will gain a competitive edge in the intercultural fieldwork sector by joining Murray State’s unique Peace Corps Prep program.
Average Net Price: $10,034/yr
Student Body: : 10,225
76. Missouri Western State University
Saint Joseph, MO
Originally a junior college, Missouri Western earned four-year status in 1969 before leveling-up to a full-fledged university in 2005. Their history highlights MWSU’s dedication to academic excellence. But there’s more to this school than its variety of high-quality degree programs. For instance, in 2015 the university published a Master Plan that outlined physical improvements in store for the campus. MWSU also supports many unique learning initiatives, including an honors program that provides members with special opportunities to attend selective conferences, receive exclusive scholarships, and study abroad. So while MWSU may have earned its affordable university ranking by its price tag, its quality of education and supportive learning environment deserve plenty of recognition, too.
Average Net Price: $9,933/yr
Student Body: : 6,090
75. University of Washington-Bothell
Applicants who are looking for a university that’s invested in their professional success will surely be impressed with UW Bothell. This West Coast school sits at the forefront of pedagogical research and makes a concerted effort to develop students’ skills in crucial areas like quantitative reasoning. UWB is also one of the best affordable universities for anyone interested in studying digital technology, cybersecurity, or education. Why? Because Bothell is home to research and education heavyweights like the Center for Information Assurance & Cybersecurity (CIAC) and the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), among others.
Average Net Price: $9,913/yr
Student Body: : 5,748
74. Nicholls State University
For some, choosing the right school isn’t all about the academics. So, if you’re passionate about sports, don’t hesitate to pick a college where the student body is excited about biology and soccer! Louisiana’s very own Nicholls State University is one such college. It has an impressive number of Title I sports teams, and with relatively low undergrad enrollment (6,454 in 2016), passionate athletes have a real shot at making the team. When paired with NSU’s excellent academic specializations and a healthy dose of extracurricular activities, you can easily craft a diverse and balanced schedule that represents all your interests – and all while earning one of the most affordable accredited degrees in Louisiana!
Average Net Price: $9,892/yr
Student Body: : 6,454
73. University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Often, undergrads are surprised by their academic experience. They enroll with the intention to pursue a pre-med curriculum but end up engrossed by their screenplay-writing class. And when you attend a school like the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, you won’t have to worry about missing out on new passions and career goals. This top affordable university has over 100 areas of study and 200 student-run organizations. That makes for a diverse and exciting academic atmosphere! UNCG also runs co-admission partnerships with a variety of local community colleges, making it easy for transfer students to save on tuition without skimping on their education.
Average Net Price: $9,875/yr
Student Body: : 18,592
72. Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, IN
IPFW is more than an affordable college for local students; it’s an integral part of the Fort Wayne community. From sports games to gallery openings, the military-friendly university regularly hosts events on campus and around town. Students from all across the school’s 200 academic programs tend to stick around after graduation, creating a robust network of alumni that stimulates the economy and strengthens the community. To further support these efforts, the university has even created an “Institute for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors” to fund scholarly and creative pursuits that extend beyond the classroom. With such a supportive learning environment, there’s no question that this school earns its place on our top affordable college ranking.
Average Net Price: $9,871/yr
Student Body: : 14,092
71. North Carolina Central University
Founded in 1909, NCCU was the nation’s first liberal arts institution for African Americans. Though it has since evolved into a full-fledged university, offering multiple graduate degrees and boasting state-of-the-art research facilities, this school’s points of pride harken back to its liberal arts roots. Plan to visit the campus of this top accredited university? Make sure to stop by NCCU’s Art Museum, which houses one of North Carolina’s leading collections of work by African-American artists. And if you plan to study music, you’ll be happy to hear that this was the first university in North Carolina’s state system to offer a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies. Surely, this institution’s valuable contributions to the arts must make for an inspiring experience.
Average Net Price: $9,793/yr
Student Body: : 7,226
70. University of Washington-Seattle
With their impressive, affordable degree ranking and international status, you can’t afford to ignore this top university. Their nine colleges will not only help you discover your passion but give you the tools and the resources to build your dream. Take, for example, UWS’s College of Built Environments. This unique school is home to six interdisciplinary degrees, five departments, six research labs, and four research centers. What’s more, it distributed over one million dollars in research awards this past year alone. The university’s other colleges are similarly impressive, so you feel confident in your quality of education – regardless of your field of study.
Average Net Price: $9,744/yr
Student Body: : 34,486
69. Arkansas Tech University
By the look of its specialized course offerings, Arkansas Tech University prepares its students for employment from the get-go. Have you always wanted to become a teacher? ATU doesn’t simply offer you a one-size-fits-all education degree. Instead, you’ll choose from an extensive collection of programs. For instance, you might train specifically to teach middle-school English or to instruct mathematics, social studies, or Spanish at the high school level. With such precise professional tracks, your affordable accredited degree from Arkansas Tech University will give the confidence to pursue rewarding employment opportunities as soon as you graduate.
Average Net Price: $9,684/yr
Student Body: : 12,650
68. University of Washington-Tacoma
When you’re applying to college, it’s important to look past the “prestige factor” and consider other issues. How prepared are graduates for well-paying jobs? How proactive is the university’s financial aid office? These questions can assist applicants as they gear up for their next stage of their academic career. And we anticipate that students will be happy with the answers they receive from UW – Tacoma, which recently earned the #1 spot on a top affordable degree ranking of West Coast schools. This list focused on the actual social mobility of its alumni, indicating that UWT can prepare you for success in any field, whether you’re pursuing an MBA or studying for a degree in the arts.
Average Net Price: $9,654/yr
Student Body: : 4,818
67. Southeastern Louisiana University
Southeastern Louisiana University has come a long way from its grassroots, junior college status. Indeed, this top affordable college continues to raise its admission standards as it evolves into a vibrant center for hard-working students, faculty, and administration. The university is particularly well known throughout the South for its stellar broadcasting programs and highly lauded media platforms. SLU’s TV Station, Radio Station, and TV News programs have all garnered prestigious awards, while the school’s own Southeastern Channel has won 13 Emmys and 51 nominations! And in addition to all that, two of RateMyProfessor.com’s top 25 professors are teaching at LSU.
Average Net Price: $9,611/yr
Student Body: : 16,501
66. Tennessee State University
You’re determined to receive a competitive education from a research institution. So, it’s likely that you don’t immediately think of Nashville, also known as “Music City USA.” And yet, one of Tennessee’s best affordable universities is actually at the forefront of multiple research fields. Aspiring engineers will love TSU’s Nanoscience and Biotechnology Core Facility, which provides students and faculty with collaborative opportunities and top-notch equipment. The school is also one of nine hosts to the Massie Program of Excellence, which supports top professors at historically black and Hispanic-serving institutions. All in all, TSU’s encouragement of minorities and emphasis on cutting-edge research makes it top value for students of all backgrounds.
Average Net Price: $9,604/yr
Student Body: : 8,222
65. California State University-Long Beach
Long Beach, CA
As a student at CSU Long Beach, you’ll be just a short drive away from the arts, music, and entertainment capital of the world. But you won’t need to travel far to receive an exceptional, affordable education in the arts. In fact, CSULB’s College of the Arts offers everything you need right on campus. Within this college, you’ll find six academic units, an art museum, and some of the best dance facilities in the nation. What’s more, the college’s Conservatory of Music supports over twenty student performance ensembles! So why look elsewhere for a comprehensive fine arts program when you can attend CSULB, a patron of artistic talent and a creative standout on our top cheap colleges ranking.
Average Net Price: $9,597/yr
Student Body: : 34,062
64. CUNY Medgar Evers College
Some might say that the road to success goes straight through Brooklyn. More specifically, it appears to go right through CUNY Medgar Evers. One of New York’s cheapest universities, CUNY Medgar Evers offers liberal arts majors a solid foundation in the humanities while exposing them some of the era’s most influential figures. Guest speakers have even included presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and contemporary writer Zadie Smith! On the other end of the academic spectrum, students in the School of Science, Health and Technology enjoy a robust curriculum split across two campuses. After finishing their pre-requisites in Brooklyn, program members will transfer to the SUNY Health Science Center for hands-on training in their chosen field.
Average Net Price: $9,436/yr
Student Body: : 8,862
63. Troy University
Troy University was originally a teacher’s college where most of Alabama’s educators went to receive their training. But after World War II, GI Bill recipients sought degrees in unparalleled numbers, and Troy expanded its offerings to accommodate this demand. Decades later, Troy’s priorities haven’t changed. A military-friendly university, it provides a variety of online learning options and hosts multiple satellite locations at or near military bases. And the school’s College of Education (which proudly touts over 100 years of experience) now features a network of sites throughout Alabama. The punchline? Of all the options on this best affordable colleges ranking, Troy stands out for its dedication to military members, non-traditional learners, and aspiring teachers.
Average Net Price: $9,350/yr
Student Body: : 17,375
62. Middle Georgia State University
MGSU is a new university that formed from the consolidation of two junior colleges: one that focused on mechanical and agricultural arts, and another that had recently gained state college status. Their union produced what is now one of Georgia’s most affordable accredited universities, with comprehensive degree programs and certificate offerings. The aviation-obsessed, in particular, should take a look at Middle Georgia State University’s unusual commitment to aviation education. The school offers a multitude of programs in the field, including an Associate’s in Aircraft Structural Technology and B.S. in Aviation Science and Management.
Average Net Price: $9,313/yr
Student Body: : 9,639
61. Indiana University-South Bend
South Bend, IN
Though it ranks as one of the cheapest accredited universities in Indiana, IUSB’s commitment doesn’t stop at affordability. With a small student body and over 100 degree offerings, this university offers a world of academic variety in a close-knit environment. Plus, the school’s small class sizes ensure you’ll get the personal assistance you need to plan for success after college. Art majors study with professors and practicing artists, not teaching assistants. At the same time, business degree candidates secure amazing opportunities – like the chance to work as the director of marketing for Oprah Winfrey! Of course, these are just two examples; you’ll find evidence of IUSB’s emphasis on high-quality training and experimental learning all across campus.
Average Net Price: $9,296/yr
Student Body: : 8,059
60. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Since its founding in 1884, Northwest State University of Louisiana has grown from a small, two-year teacher’s college to a comprehensive, four-year institution. Today, the school welcomes a student body of more than 9,000 to its nearly 1,000-acre campus in rural Natchitoches, Louisiana. And while the town isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, NSU easily makes up for it with a host of extracurricular activities, social events, and academic clubs to keep students busy. With all NSU has to offer, it’s hard to believe it’s one of the most affordable universities in the nation!
Average Net Price: $9,290/yr
Student Body: : 10,199
59. Marshall University
If someone said they were going to take you on a tour of one of the country’s cheapest universities, you’d probably keep expectations low. In other words, you wouldn’t assume that the school participated in NCAA Division I sports and supported 16 varsity teams. Nor would you expect the university to offer academic programs across a dozen schools and colleges – including a School of Medicine and an Honors College. And yet, this is exactly what you’d find on a tour of Marshall University. We’re not the only ones who recognize Marshall’s great value, either. In fact, students travel from far and wide (including 49 states and 56 countries!) to attend this affordable institution.
Average Net Price: $9,240/yr
Student Body: : 11,018
58. Texas A & M International University
Even before earning a spot on our best cheap colleges ranking, TAMIU had plenty of accolades to its name. Lauded for its high retention rates, affordable tuition, and the economic mobility of its graduates, this school is a no-brainer for low-budget students with lofty dreams. The university is home to five smaller academic divisions, including Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, and Nursing and Health Sciences, plus the School of Business. But perhaps most unique is TAMIU’s University College. Students in this program benefit from extra academic support services and a flexible curriculum that enables them to combine a variety of interests into one degree.
Average Net Price: $9,212/yr
Student Body: : 7,869
57. Missouri Southern State University
When people hear that MSSU is located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, their first thought probably isn’t, “I bet that school is a gateway to global learning and cosmopolitan living.” But in fact, that’s exactly what this top affordable university aims to be. One of the clearest signs that MSSU is living up to this mission is in its “themed semesters.” Originally born out of a desire to internationalize its curriculum, Missouri Southern began picking a different country to highlight each semester. The school then organizes a variety of events and learning opportunities that introduce students to that country’s culture, music, food, history, and current events.
Average Net Price: $9,193/yr
Student Body: : 6,570
56. Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY
A private university with a public school price tag, NKU doesn’t fit easily into any one category. It’s located in a quiet suburb, but the bustling city of Cincinnati is less than 10 miles away. And while undergrad enrollment tops 14,000, the student-to-faculty ratio sits at a comfortable 19:1. In other words, NKU has all the right resources to deliver a personalized education with a world-class perspective. What more could you expect from one of the cheapest universities in the nation? How about 70+ majors and minors, 17 D1 athletic teams, and a study abroad program that sends more than 300 students overseas each year!
Average Net Price: $9,173/yr
Student Body: : 14,417
55. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
New York, NY
In total, the CUNY college system includes 24 campuses spread all across New York City’s five boroughs. And incredibly, nearly half of them appear at various spots on our cheapest universities ranking! So what makes CUNY Bernard M Baruch College stand out from the rest? While all the CUNY schools offer great values (and are located in a great city), Baruch offers some especially enticing perks for aspiring diplomats, entertainers, and financiers. Situated in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, Baruch College is just a quick skip away from renowned landmarks like the United Nations Headquarters, MetLife Building, and the Gramercy Theatre.
Average Net Price: $9,116/yr
Student Body: : 18,799
54. Shepherd University
Located in rural West Virginia, Shepherd University is one of the best cheap colleges for smart students on a budget.
With an enrollment just over 4,000, Shepherd University barely makes the cut for our affordable universities ranking. Venture off campus, and you’ll find the tiny town even less crowded, giving life at Shepherd a much more intimate vibe than you’ll find at most other universities. But if peace, quiet, and a friendly community is what you’re after, this school might just be your perfect destination. The rustic backdrop offers an ideal setting for smart students who want to focus on their studies, and Shepherd’s challenging Honors Program ensures they stay plenty busy. There is even a separate, two-year “Scholar’s Program” for upper-class and transfer students who want to push themselves academically but missed the entry window for the Honors Program.
Average Net Price: $9,092/yr
Student Body: : 4,162
53. University of Louisiana-Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette describes itself as a body of students and faculty who are “smart, spirited, and seeking solutions.” As the second-largest school in the state and with a research and development budget that rivals some of the nation’s top universities, ULL is a major force in the community. Academically, it claims “areas of excellence” in computing and informatics; nursing and healthcare; and energy, economics, and the environment. This cheap accredited college also puts a strong emphasis on local culture, with a particular focus on Creole and Cajun traditions.
Average Net Price: $9,065/yr
Student Body: : 17,975
52. CUNY Brooklyn College
If you think of education as a daring adventure, CUNY Brooklyn College might be right up your alley. The college attracts a diverse group of students who are ready to make the world their classroom by drawing on the “civic, urban, and artistic energy” of the surrounding city. Undergrads have their choice of an incredible 83 programs across every portion of the academic spectrum. As one of the city’s cheapest accredited universities, BC has also developed a number of special initiatives that cater to specific learning groups and boost its educational values. Examples include a competitive Honors Academy, a First College Year transition program, and the CASE program for underrepresented, disadvantaged students seeking degrees in science.
Average Net Price: $9,053/yr
Student Body: : 17,563
51. Texas Woman’s University
Like all the other schools on this list of the best affordable colleges, Texas Woman’s University boasts a tuition rate that’s hard to beat. But there’s something else about TWU that distinguishes it from the rest: it’s the nation’s largest university designed primarily for women. (Note, however, that the school began admitting men to all programs in 1994). Despite its history of gender exclusivity, TWU offers a globally-minded, broad-based education that’s fit for students of all stripes. This includes roughly 80 different academic programs in subjects as diverse as biochemistry, fashion design, and pre-occupational therapy.
Average Net Price: $8,995/yr
Student Body: : 11,785
50. University of Texas of the Permian Basin
This small institution provides exemplary programs for students interested in the health and education sectors. Just imagine that an astounding 78% of pre-health professional candidates enroll in training programs and medical schools upon completing their respective UTPB programs. And UTPB’s College of Education churns out impressive numbers, too. In fact, past years have shown its graduates achieving near-perfect pass rates on their teacher certification tests! And teaching candidates who already have their BAs can even opt for an accelerated, online certification process. These statistics – along with the school’s top affordable university ranking – prove that UTPB is a smart investment for future teachers and healthcare practitioners.
Average Net Price: $8,984/yr
Student Body: : 7,119
49. University of Texas-Dallas
At UT Dallas, eight distinct colleges unite to earn the school a prestigious Carnegie R1 (“Highest Research Activity”) classification. The university’s insistence on boundary-blurring curricula also contributes to its status as a research powerhouse. As an example, take a look at the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. In this college, students impassioned by the arts and humanities apply their interests to computer science, technology, and design. In doing so, degree recipients acquire marketable experience that pushes their creativity and diversifies their career opportunities. And this is just one example of the school’s interdisciplinary approach! So while UTD officially makes our most affordable colleges ranking for its low costs, we think it deserves a nod for innovation, too.
Average Net Price: $8,978/yr
Student Body: : 17,084
48. California State University-Sacramento
Although there are plenty of reasons to attend CSU – Sacramento, two in particular stand out from the rest. First is its commitment to diversity: on average, more than 50% of those who attend this affordable, accredited university each year are low-income and/or first-generation college students. Second is its focus on public policy, which includes an impressive array of opportunities for majors in this field. For example, future civic leaders can jumpstart their careers through the school’s Capital Fellows program, which provides students with structured internship experience in California’s own capitol. Although just one of numerous opportunities, the Capital Fellows program exemplifies CSU – Sacramento’s dedication to public service.
Average Net Price: $8,956/yr
Student Body: : 29,768
47. University of Wisconsin-Parkside
In 2017, UW Parkside counted its largest incoming class in five years. And it’s no wonder why the number of applications is increasing. With their dedication to a classical four-college system and a 23:1 student-teacher ratio, UWP practically guarantees undergrads the structure and personalized attention that they need to thrive. The university also sports a tried-and-true approach to academics. Degree recipients have impressively high placements in their fields, including a 92% placement rate for Theatre Arts majors! You’ll find similar stats all over campus, from the school’s Engineering Consortia Program to its computer science degree. With these kinds of results, it’s clear that UWP deserves its status as one the Midwest’s best affordable colleges.
Average Net Price: $8,937/yr
Student Body: : 4,963
46. Louisiana Tech University
Louisiana Tech’s top affordable degree ranking is cause for celebration – especially for students pursuing a degree in one of the school’s five areas of excellence (business, micromanufacturing, applied physics, biomedical engineering, and creative arts). Degree candidates in these fields receive outsized opportunities for a seriously affordable cost. For example, physics and engineering majors can develop research experience in the school’s Center for Applied Physics Studies, which houses programs funded by agencies like NASA. Healthcare majors, on the other hand, reap plenty of benefits from a four-story, 22,000 sq. ft. research complex known as the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science.
Average Net Price: $8,905/yr
Student Body: : 12,174
45. Fairmont State University
Founded in 1865, West Virginia’s cheapest accredited university carries on its standard of excellence to this day.
Undoubtedly, one important consideration for college applicants is a school’s ability to prepare them for high-demand career fields. Students need not sacrifice a vibrant college experience for the promise of a bright future. In fact, the personal connections that undergrads forge on campus often lead directly to professional opportunities later in life – so why not seek the best of both worlds? West Virginia’s own Fairmont State University offers an active Greek life, more than 80 student-led organizations, and 16-varsity sports teams – in addition to strong academics, of course! Attend this cheap accredited college, and you could find yourself celebrating homecoming within view of multiple world-class education centers.
Average Net Price: $8,897/yr
Student Body: : 4,359
44. Midwestern State University
Wichita Falls, TX
Midwestern State University’s commitment to well-rounded academics has earned it a place on the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Whether you’re studying pre-license nursing or sociology, you can feel confident that you’ll not only earn a top affordable degree, but also a solid liberal arts education. By taking courses that span the humanities, mathematics, and natural and social sciences, undergrads increase their ability to make connections between subjects – a valuable analytical skill in any field. To top it all off, the university hosts some extremely accomplished faculty. The Humanities and Social Science departments alone count thirty-four doctoral degrees and nearly 700 published books, articles, essays, poems, and short stories.
Average Net Price: $8,888/yr
Student Body: : 6,039
43. McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA
As a state, part of Louisiana’s charm is undoubtedly due to its community-oriented character. Take its own McNeese University, which trained soldiers during World War II, supported rescue operations during Hurricane Audrey, and sheltered New Orleans residents during Hurricane Katrina. Originally a junior college, Southeast Louisiana’s best affordable university has certainly evolved over the years, but it hasn’t lost its neighborly spirit. Today, this spirit manifests in a variety of initiatives, like the mentorship program for new students. Another example is the Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center, which helps stimulate local organizations – including the city’s five parishes – through entrepreneurial research.
Average Net Price: $8,883/yr
Student Body: : 8,361
42. University of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA
At the University of New Orleans, master’s and doctoral candidates represent a quarter of the total student body. With so much graduate-level activity, the school easily earns its Carnegie-awarded status as a “research intensive” institution. And of course, UNO’s low tuition just as easily secures its spot on our most affordable universities ranking. But perhaps more important is UNO’s unique commitment to the cultural and economic needs of the city. Taking into account the uniqueness of the New Orleans economy, UNO has established three schools – Urban and Regional Studies; Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration; and Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering – that serve as direct conduits to some of the city’s most sought-after professions.
Average Net Price: $8,867/yr
Student Body: : 8,131
41. University of Maine-Augusta
University of Maine-Augusta is the third largest public university in Maine. A commuter campus, it’s ideal for students who want to earn their degree close to home. This includes individuals of all ages, from working professionals seeking mid-level executive degrees to children who attend the school’s intensive French language summer programs. But despite the diversity of its attendees (or perhaps because of it), UMA goes out of its way to unite degree seekers of all backgrounds under an annual theme. At this top affordable college, 2017-2018 is the year of “Truth.” As such, students will find that many of their courses this fall and spring will integrate truth-related concepts into their curriculum.
Average Net Price: $8,837/yr
Student Body: : 6,193
40. University of North Carolina-Charlotte
As we move towards the best affordable accredited universities on this list, the schools’ financial dedication to its students becomes more and more impressive. Students in pursuit of STEM careers should know that UNC ranks as a top school in the country for funding research patents. And last year alone, the school awarded nearly 500 research grants! The school’s Research and Economic Development department buoys these success rates by helping students and faculty design successful projects, submit proposals, and recruit participants for their studies. Applicants should also note: almost 100,000 alumni reside in the region, which makes for considerable networking, job, and internship opportunities.
Average Net Price: $8,761/yr
Student Body: : 25,928
39. Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem continues to prevail as a one of the nation’s top historically black colleges. Indeed, the university has landed multiple top rankings for the number of black students it graduates into professional careers. From pre-professional nursing programs to those pursuing jobs in the field of education, statistics show that graduates of this accredited affordable college maintain a competitive edge over their UNC system peers when it comes to job offers. The future is especially bright for minority nursing students, who can take advantage of extraordinary research opportunities through a partnership with Duke University.
Average Net Price: $8,746/yr
Student Body: : 5,573
38. University of Alaska Fairbanks
Alaska isn’t exaggerating when it claims to be one of the country’s most sought-after landscapes for self-exploration. Founded exactly 100 years ago, University of Alaska- Fairbanks ranks as the state’s only Tier-I university. Add first-rate academics to a breathtaking background and what do you get? This top affordable university, which offers students incredible exposure to wildlife, untouched natural landscapes, and native cultures. As if its location weren’t enough, UAF further attracts aspiring scientists and anthropologists with unique degrees in Marine Biology, Agricultural Studies, and Native Cultures. Extra-rugged types can even complete a degree in Fisheries Science and enter the region’s lucrative industry.
Average Net Price: $8,741/yr
Student Body: : 13,045
37. Bellevue University
A non-profit university in Nebraska, Bellevue offers some of the state’s best affordable degrees to students of diverse backgrounds. In fact, degrees are so affordable that often, students complete their bachelor’s and move straightaway into one of the school’s online master’s programs. The school’s virtual accessibility also makes it a top choice for members of the military, who can earn their degree while on deployment and return home with the skills they need to transition into a lucrative career field. And these opportunities are no accident; in fact, Bellevue explicitly states that one of its goals is to develop students who are thoughtful, active citizens. The university even has its own Center for American Vision and Values!
Average Net Price: $8,727/yr
Student Body: : 7,814
36. Rhode Island College
Nestled between Boston and New York, the city of Providence has a reputation for its contributions to the art world. So instead of choosing an expensive BFA program, why not earn a more affordable accredited degree from Rhode Island College? Interdisciplinary methods drive the art department’s pedagogy, whose own faculty members have won prestigious awards and residencies for their practices. What’s more, the school recently renovated the art department’s Alex and Ani Hall, expanding its footprint and adding state of the art studios for ceramics, sculpture, metal arts, and photography.
Average Net Price: $8,632/yr
Student Body: : 8,445
35. Brigham Young University-Idaho
BYU-Idaho can trace its origins to 1888, when a group of Latter-day Saint pioneers constructed a small school (essentially a log cabin) for their children. By 1999, this modest building grew to encapsulate the largest private junior college in the United States. And even after earning its university status in 2001, BYU-Idaho continued to differentiate itself. Today, perhaps its biggest claim to fame is its sizeable distance learning initiative, which includes over 300 web-based courses and 17 of the best affordable degree programs online. Better yet, BYU supports online learners with its PathwayConnect program, which organizes local gatherings related to students’ coursework.
Average Net Price: $8,624/yr
Student Body: : 65,811
34. North Carolina A & T State University
There’s no doubt that you’ll receive a bold education in the arts and sciences at this acclaimed public research institution. The largest public HBUC in the country can count civil rights activists, top astrophysicists, and vice-presidents among its impressive alumni. Not only one of the best affordable universities around, NCAT is also a national leader within the STEM disciplines – the university graduates the largest number of African American engineers at all degree levels every year! And regardless of major, this school offers impressive scholarship options. Exceptional high school students cannot afford to ignore the school’s Cheatham-White Scholarship, which offers a completely funded four-year award to teens who show promising leadership potential.
Average Net Price: $8,589/yr
Student Body: : 10,489
33. Indiana University-Kokomo
Some say that for a world-class education, you need only look in your own backyard. This is certainly the case at Indiana University- Kokomo, where in-state residents can access some of the most affordable accredited degrees on this list. And with financial savvy comes great opportunity, like the ability to invest in one of IUK’s international travel courses. One of this year’s courses includes an intercultural-themed trip to China, where participants explored historical and rural settings in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are even travel options for nursing students, who can fulfill an elective requirement by taking a trip to Guatemala to observe the differences between a developing country’s healthcare system and our own.
Average Net Price: $8,566/yr
Student Body: : 4,691
32. Indiana University-East
At Indiana University East, financial perks aren’t limited to in-state residents. Rather, IUE extends its loyalty to the entire region through the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which limits out-of-state costs to 150% of resident rates. In other words, it saves applicants from Ohio, Wisconsin, and everywhere in between a whole lot of money! And though the top affordable university offers over 50 academic programs, almost half of all classes originate in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. So whether students are studying for a business administration or technical writing degree, they’ll be sure to find themselves immersed in the atmosphere of true liberal arts education at Indiana University East.
Average Net Price: $8,453/yr
Student Body: : 6,342
31. Metropolitan State University of Denver
MSU Denver has won the status of a Diversity Champion college for its commitment to a multicultural and a multiethnic campus. And the school certainly has a knack for encouraging its student body when it comes to adversity! From a student who earned her Master of Accounting against her parent’s wishes to an Industrial Design major who forged an unexpectedly successful career in toy making, MSU Denver insists upon offering its students the support they need to succeed. Of course, the university has plenty of academic clout to back up its mission, including an AACSB-accredited business school and award-winning Sales Education program – not to mention its top spot on this affordable colleges ranking!
Average Net Price: $8,416/yr
Student Body: : 24,868
30. Texas A & M University-Commerce
For students seeking a top affordable degree program, accessibility is often just as important as cost. Thankfully, Texas A&M University-Commerce excels in both areas. In addition to its main campus near the state’s northeastern border, the school also maintains satellite locations in Dallas, McKinney, Rockwall, and a few other towns nearby. TAMUC has also invested heavily in its online school and now offers over a dozen hybrid and entirely distance-based bachelor’s degrees. And for those who can attend classes on campus, the university provides numerous programs that cater to local interests and economic needs. Such majors include Agribusiness, Equine Studies, Wildlife and Conservation Science, and more.
Average Net Price: $8,351/yr
Student Body: : 8,943
29. Farmingdale State College
Not sure if you want to attend college in the city or the suburbs? Can’t decide between a small liberal arts school and a large university? Check out Farmingdale State, which would even impress Goldilocks with its balance of attributes. Its manicured, 380-acre campus is located on Long Island, offering students a spacious home that’s just an hour from the hustle and bustle of NYC. Undergrad enrollment hovers around 11,000, hitting a happy medium that for many is “not too big, not too small.” Admittedly, FSU’s list of roughly 40 academic programs might seem short compared to some other affordable, accredited universities on this ranking. But to others, it represents a comprehensive – yet not overwhelming – selection.
Average Net Price: $8,346/yr
Student Body: : 11,888
28. University of Tennessee-Martin
If you’re going to need financial aid to attend college, rest assured that you’ll be in familiar company at the University of Tennessee – Martin. In fact, around 90% of each incoming class receives some sort of aid package. This figure demonstrates the university’s commitment to educating all students, regardless of where they fall on the economic spectrum. Healthcare majors, in particular, may find that UT Martin is one of the best cheap colleges for helping them accomplish their goals. That’s because, in 2016, graduates of both the nursing and veterinary health technology programs earned 100% pass rates on their certification exams!
Average Net Price: $8,288/yr
Student Body: : 7,256
27. University of Alaska Anchorage
For nature lovers and future researchers, this affordable university offers access to facilities like the Alaska Center for Conservation Science and the Environment and Natural Resources Institute.
With an enrollment just shy of 25,000 undergrads, The University of Alaska – Anchorage is Alaska’s largest postsecondary institution. And befitting its substantial size, this top affordable college is also located in Alaska’s largest city! To be sure, the state doesn’t exactly boast the most convenient location relative to the rest of the U.S., but the journey might be worth it – especially for students interested in wildlife and the environment. The university offers BS degrees in Biological Sciences, Environment, and Society, Geomatics or Geological Sciences, and Natural Sciences, all of which will give you a rare opportunity to turn Alaska’s beautiful backyard tundra into your very own classroom.
Average Net Price: $8,159/yr
Student Body: : 24,754
26. University of Missouri-St Louis
Saint Louis, MO
Let’s start with some “fast facts” about the University of Missouri – St. Louis. First, it’s one of the most culturally diverse campuses in the state (students hail from more than 100 countries!). Second, more than 70% of UMSL graduates choose to stay in Missouri after graduation. What does this mean? UMSL is one of the best affordable universities for anyone who wants to learn in a diverse environment with strong connections to the local community. And as a bonus, the university’s Whitney Harris Ecology Center, which partners with the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden, is the largest biology conservation program in the U.S.!
Average Net Price: $8,158/yr
Student Body: : 17,327
25. Northeastern State University
Located in the small town of Tahlequah at the foot of the Ozark Mountains, Northeastern State University offers a rural escape for the roughly 5,000 undergrads who attend each year. Campus life consists of NCAA Division II athletic games, theatrical performances and musical concerts, and plenty of other activities and events courtesy of NSU’s 80+ on-campus organizations. And if you’re looking for a top affordable college that emphasizes volunteerism, NSU might be the school for you. It even hosts an annual day of service (known as “The Big Event”) during which students spend the day giving back to the community by lending a helping hand to those in need.
Average Net Price: $8,148/yr
Student Body: : 8,245
24. California State University-Fullerton
In all, there are a dozen Cal State campuses represented on our best affordable universities ranking. And while they all bear the same CSU title, each location brings something a little different to the table. The Fullerton campus, in particular, is especially proud of the “exceptional value” it offers; indeed, its tuition rates are 32% below the national average! Not only that, but it ranks 2nd among all western universities in the percentage of students it graduates without debt. With no need to stress about money, you’ll have more time to appreciate other perks of attending CSU – Fullerton, like its rich diversity, high-quality professors, and commitment to sustainable design.
Average Net Price: $7,915/yr
Student Body: : 36,593
23. University of Louisiana-Monroe
Like many of the schools in this article, the University of Louisiana Monroe first opened its doors as a humble junior college. But over the years, ULM has expanded, improved (it even went through a “Reclaim Our Campus” initiative in 2002 when it was struggling with financial issues), and ultimately become one of the best cheap colleges in the south. Today it offers roughly 40 undergrad programs, including more than a dozen online degrees through its popular “eULM” system. It’s also a strong supporter of non-traditional students. Adult learners can take advantage of a variety of continuing education courses, while precocious teenagers can earn college credit through one of ULM’s three high school programs.
Average Net Price: $7,912/yr
Student Body: : 8,344
22. New Jersey City University
Jersey City, NJ
NJCU isn’t just one of the best affordable accredited colleges in the country – it also boasts the lowest tuition rate of any four-year public university in all of New Jersey! Students who want access to world-class faculty, a wide array of degree programs, and small class sizes will find plenty to live at New Jersey City. On the academic end, traditional degrees in Chemistry and English stand alongside career-focused majors like National Security Studies, Fire Science, and Media Arts. Outside of the classroom, NJCU “Gothic Knights” can participate in DIII athletics, join intramural teams (including something called “aqua golf”), or take up Greek life.
Average Net Price: $7,753/yr
Student Body: : 7,469
21. CUNY City College
New York, NY
The CUNY school system consists of 24 campuses scattered throughout New York City (and yes, several are scattered throughout this list, too!). But CUNY City College is the original, the one campus that started it all. And although more than 150 years have passed since its founding, CCNY remains a proud leader in the field – not to mention a prolific provider of some of the best affordable degree programs in the city. It’s also one of the best schools for research and receives more funding for its projects than any other CUNY campus. In fact, the university has opened two new state-of-the-art research facilities just in the last two years!
Average Net Price: $7,696/yr
Student Body: : 15,744
20. Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN
In 2017, 95% of Purdue’s freshman class registered as full-time students. Evidently, undergraduates feel confident in both Purdue’s price tag and its 16:1 student to faculty ratio, which affords them plenty of personal attention from instructors. The school supports its scholars with generous learning awards, too: just consider the College of Technology, which recently provided $15,000 to degree candidates of its advanced manufacturing program. And with over 70 undergraduate and graduate programs from which to choose, both baccalaureate and master’s candidates can pursue an affordable, accredited degree in subjects ranging from physics to hospitality and tourism.
Average Net Price: $7,460/yr
Student Body: : 7,274
19. University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
Fort Smith, AR
UAFS offers a wide assortment of undergraduate programs in topics that include Graphic Design, Criminal Justice, and Rhetoric and Writing. And Arkansans aren’t the only ones who can access these top affordable degree programs at a low cost, as the university extends in-state rates to residents of all bordering states. Need another reason to attend UAFS? Consider its knack for training students to pursue leadership roles. From FBI internships to placements with local social media firms to teaching opportunities in Alaska, UAFS graduates are emboldened to make exciting, leadership-oriented career moves.
Average Net Price: $7,447/yr
Student Body: : 7,688
18. University of Houston-Downtown
Located in the heart of the city, the University of Houston grants students nearly unlimited opportunities to acquire real-world experience. The school’s convenient location is especially advantageous for members of the division of social sciences, home to some of UHD’s most popular undergrad programs. For example, Criminal Justice majors explore topics like prison education and human trafficking through events that occur right in their own backyard. On the other hand, Psychology majors can gain valuable experience by interning at organizations that serve one of Houston’s most underserved populations – the elderly. With so many diverse and challenging work experiences available, it’s no surprise that this top affordable college is the final destination for so many ambitious undergrads.
Average Net Price: $7,409/yr
Student Body: : 16,129
17. California State University-Stanislaus
Among Stan State’s most popular (and most successful) programs are its degrees in business, teacher education, and nursing. And while these programs are often crowded, their students nonetheless enjoy high rates of success – a curiosity at least partially attributable to the school’s small enrollment numbers overall. By limiting the size of its student body, CSUS ensures that undergrads can get the attention they need from faculty. This strategy appears to be paying off in other ways, too. From NPR to Money magazine, Cal State Stanislaus regularly receives recognition for the upward mobility of its students. It’s even made Washington Monthly’s “Bang for the Buck” ranking of colleges with the best cheap degree programs.
Average Net Price: $7,387/yr
Student Body: : 8,745
16. CUNY York College
From jazz to journalism, New York City’s reputation for talent and liveliness precedes its reputation for costliness. In spite of this fact, the budget-conscious need not abandon their dreams of studying in the Big Apple. CUNY’s York campus offers students the ability to acquire a top affordable university education from its vibrant Queens neighborhood. As a CUNY York Cardinal, you’ll only pay about $7k each year, and in return, you’ll unlock a comprehensive list of career paths in fields that span from the health sciences to business. Not your forte? Look instead to CUNY York’s extensive offering liberal arts majors, which includes Anthropology, English, and Black Studies.
Average Net Price: $7,202/yr
Student Body: : 10,664
15. CUNY Lehman College
Situated on a historic campus in the Bronx, CUNY Lehman arrives near the top of this list with its impressive coalition of 51 undergraduate and 46 graduate degree programs. One of its most notable programs is its Master’s Degree in Education, which offers exceptional field training opportunities at local public schools. But beyond access to hands-on experience, one of Lehman’s biggest selling points is the dedication of its faculty. Consider, for example, the college’s General Chemistry course, which many students need to pursue careers in STEM fields. With the help of some targeted research, professors at this top affordable college recently succeeded in boosting the course’s pass rate to an impressive 80%!
Average Net Price: $7,123/yr
Student Body: : 14,558
14. California State University-Northridge
From its 356-acre campus in Los Angeles’s largest bedroom community, CSUN offers its students all the opportunities of the city – but without the overwhelming chaos that often accompanies life in LA. Undergrads clearly value this balance, as nearly 40,000 enroll in CSUN’s top affordable degree programs each year. Applicants can choose from degrees in Kinesiology, Real Estate, and Urban Studies & Planning, to name a few. And media students, take note: the Cinema and Television Arts Department offers seven programs of study in addition to unbeatable proximity to Hollywood-connected alumni. Along with its reasonable price point, Cal State Northridge provides no shortage of reasons why it should be on every SoCal high school student’s wish list.
Average Net Price: $7,075/yr
Student Body: : 38,667
13. Indiana University-Northwest
Indiana University Northwest aims to provide life-changing educational opportunities to prospective students in the region. To achieve this goal, the university starts with high-quality faculty. Indeed, 80% of IUN professors hold the highest degree attainable in their field. This means undergrads learn from true experts as they explore topics like Women’s and Gender Studies, Economics, Biochemistry, and Mathematics. Next, IUN adds in academic variety. And with over 70 degree programs available, the university is well on its way to accomplishing its mission. Lastly, the school factors in price. Thanks to its affordable tuition and 100+ scholarships, IUN easily clinches the title as Indiana’s best affordable college.
Average Net Price: $6,992/yr
Student Body: : 6,692
12. California State University-San Bernardino
San Bernardino, CA
According to The Sierra Club, this affordable university reigns as one of “America’s Coolest Schools.”
At CSUSB, diversity statistics make a clear impression; the university enrolls the second highest number of African American and Hispanic students of all public universities in California. Despite the adversity that many of these first-generation college students face, CSUSB nonetheless maintains an impressive 85% first-year retention rate. In that first year, many degree candidates will start to hone their career path by exploring the university’s five academic divisions, including the schools of Social and Behavioral Sciences. And this top cheap college continues to distinguish itself as an academic powerhouse for diverse students. In fact, just recently CSUSB added three graduate programs that reflect the needs of the region: a doctorate in Educational Leadership and two new M.F.A. degrees.
Average Net Price: $6,984/yr
Student Body: : 18,483
11. California State University-Fresno
Central California’s best cheap college has earned recognition for its research and public service-oriented academics. The school includes divisions dedicated entirely to topics like engineering and agricultural science, where 95% of tenured faculty hold a terminal degree in their field. Better yet, undergrads have ample opportunity to apply their studies to the real world. They can even explore topics like water-saving irrigation techniques and the technical logistics of running a successful winery on CSUF’s 1000-acre, student-run farm. But don’t think that they forgot about the liberal arts. CSU Fresno offers coursework in classical languages, criminology, and political science. Plus, its proximity to the Sierra National Forest makes it a haven for environmentalists and social justice warriors.
Average Net Price: $6,846/yr
Student Body: : 22,308
10. CUNY New York City College of Technology
An affordable liberal arts education has its benefits, but so does attending a school that places a strong emphasis on applied skills. Students interested in fields ranging from architectural technology to industrial design might consider CUNY City Tech, which offers an exceptional experience for those seeking technology-oriented careers. Comprised of innovative observatories and labs, this affordable, accredited college represents a haven of hands-on learning for students in each of its 26 baccalaureate programs. But educational opportunities aren’t limited to campus. In fact, the school encourages students to apply for exciting internships and learning opportunities through its partnerships with organizations like Idealist, Microsoft, and NYC’s own Tech Talent Pipeline.
Average Net Price: $6,671/yr
Student Body: : 21,064
9. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York, NY
Established in the 1950s, CUNY John Jay first emerged as a training ground for a liberal arts-educated, ethics-oriented police force. And though the school has since expanded its reach, it has stayed true to its goal of educating advocates for justice. To this day, the school offers 31 specialized majors in subjects that range from Culture and Deviance Studies to Toxicology. And impressively, an astounding 41% of graduates continue the school’s original legacy by earning John Jay’s top affordable degree in Criminal Justice. But regardless of their specific field, nearly all graduates share at least one goal in common: a desire to work at either a governmental or nonprofit organization.
Average Net Price: $6,641/yr
Student Body: : 15,452
8. East Central University
With just over 4,000 undergrads, East Central University has the smallest student body of any of the top ten schools on our list. But despite its small size, this top cheap college offers an impressive variety of degree programs – nearly 70, in fact! What’s more, it’s the only university in Oklahoma where students can go to earn a degree in subjects like environmental health science, medical physics, and cartography. And when compared with other regional public institutions of its size, ECU has received the second highest number of government grants in the country. If that’s not impressive, consider that several of ECU’s alumni have gone on to serve as members of the state senate – and even as the governor!
Average Net Price: $6,590/yr
Student Body: : 4,367
7. Utah Valley University
Located within view of the Wasatch Mountains, UVU certainly offers great scenery. And it’s also one of the safest campuses in the country. But these are just two of the factors that likely influenced the more than 40,000 undergrads who enroll each year. Need another reason to attend Utah’s largest public institution? How about UVU’s exceptionally tailored degree paths. Not only does the university offer some of the region’s most affordable degrees, but most of its programs come with multiple emphasis options that allow participants to customize their studies. Some even offer up to eight different specializations! Poli Sci majors, for example, can choose from concentrations like American Government, Indian Affairs, and World Politics.
Average Net Price: $6,565/yr
Student Body: : 43,017
6. California State University-Bakersfield
CSU Bakersfield earns its top affordable college ranking with an astonishingly low price tag of just over $6k per semester. With a state-of-the art research and media center, theaters, galleries, and a recreation center devoted to the schools Division I athletic teams, CSUB plays a pivotal role amidst Central California’s rural communities by tackling its mission to develop the intellectual and personal potential of each undergrad. This respect for its students’ diverse interests and goals is most evident in the university’s list of 50+ degree programs, which range from Electrical Engineering to Marketing.
Average Net Price: $6,376/yr
Student Body: : 9,229
5. University of Texas-El Paso
El Paso, TX
El Paso’s proximity to Ciudad Juarez makes it the largest bi-national metro location in the country. Indeed, visitors to campus will find the university practically overflowing with diversity at every point on the academic spectrum. You’ll find plenty of quality, too, from UTEP’s award-winning graduate programs in business and engineering to its School of Nursing, considered one of the best in the Southwest region. But that’s not all. The cosmopolitan perspective of this top affordable university’s primarily Mexican-American student body has also earned UTEP acclaim for its humanities department, which offers the only bilingual MFA program in the country.
Average Net Price: $5,433/yr
Student Body: : 23,771
4. Fayetteville State University
Whether you’re more book smart or practically career-oriented, you’ll find the tools you need to succeed at Fayetteville State University. With the motto “Academics that Work,” this HBCU attracts students who ranked well above average on a national test to assess higher order reasoning abilities. With this knowledge, undergraduates can feel confident in their decision to earn an affordable, accredited degree from FSU. But whether they opt for a program in communications, business administration, or education, all FSU grads will leave with a strong set of critical thinking and writing skills that will serve them well in any number of career fields.
Average Net Price: $5,170/yr
Student Body: : 6,633
3. University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) offers its student population of about 28,000 an opportunity to reach for the stars or explore the Gulf Coast, thanks to its more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs including engineering, marine biology, Spanish translation and interpreting, environmental sciences, and the School of Medicine. Plus, you can supplement your major with unique minors like Folklore and Latin American Studies.
UTRGV was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013, and in the next few years will implement new professional and doctoral programs, giving students multiple opportunities to innovate and collaborate with faculty and leaders in industry, business, medicine, science, education and technology.
UTRGV, the ninth-largest four-year public university in Texas has a 90 percent Hispanic student population, with campus and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley, including Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen, Rio Grande City and South Padre Island.
Average Net Price: $4,335/yr
Student Body: : 27,811
2. California State University-Dominguez Hills
Located in Carson, California, CSU Dominguez Hills deserves its reputation as Los Angeles’s second best affordable degree. Both undergraduate and graduate students can select programs from any one of its six academic divisions, which include traditional colleges (e.g. Arts and Humanities and Education) as well as the industry-oriented College of Health, Human Services, and Nursing. Another point of distinction for CSUDH is its anthropology program, which offers an impressive number of international and local field opportunities for undergrads. This also likely explains why the university produces such a large number of Fulbright Scholars, who work on research projects all over the world.
Average Net Price: $3,764/yr
Student Body: : 13,040
1. California State University-Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
CSU Los Angeles unites its diverse campus and academic community with an unparalleled commitment to affordable scholarly inquiry. And considering its annual net price lands just north of $3,000, it stands to reason that CSULA has also earned the number one spot on Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang For the Buck” ranking. But affordability is just one perk of attending this multifaceted institution, where you can major in anything from Civil Engineering to Music, Theatre, and Dance. Enrolling almost 25,000 students annually, CSULA’s affordable, accredited degree programs continue to enjoy record growth and national recognition for their accessibility.
Average Net Price: $3,160/yr
Student Body: : 24,156
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 100 cheapest colleges in the United States!
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