The benefits of a college education are well-known: graduates see increased salaries, greater job security, and have more opportunities to advance in their careers. Unfortunately, the costs of college are also well-known. According to the Washington Post, tuition at four year public colleges has risen 100 percent since 2001, while U.S. News and World Report indicates a 200 percent increase in college tuition over the last 20 years. Moreover, the effects of this rising collegiate sticker price are reflected in the sharp rise of student debt. According to Vox, the total student debt has tripled in the last 10 years and surpasses $1.2 billion. In other words, while a college education is now more necessary than ever, the increasing cost of one's degree creates a significant burden for students. It is important to consider colleges who attempt to mitigate some of these costs — whether through reduced tuition rates for in-state students; free courses; or distribution of scholarships, grants, and other monies. The list below reflects some of the most affordable universities in the country江西11选5走势图.
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For those interested in online options, see our ranking of best cheap online degrees.
The 25 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 25 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!
1. University of Washington
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 243
The operates campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell and serves over 54,000 students through 18 schools and colleges. Recognized for its innovative initiatives and global impact in teaching and research, UW awards more than 12,000 degrees annually.
UW ranks as one of the least expensive four-year degrees in the state. Roughly 60% of undergraduates receive over $400 million in financial aid and $250 million in scholarships and grants.
In addition to its campus-based programs, UW offers 17 affordable online degrees. Distance learning options include bachelor's degrees in early childhood and integrated social science. Full-time students can complete these programs within two years. At the master's level, students can enroll in fully online or blended programs in education, management, healthcare, engineering, and information science.UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
2. Brooklyn College
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 91
The first public coeducational liberal arts college in New York City, became part of the City University of New York system in 1961. Brooklyn College enrolls over 18,000 students in approximately 75 programs in business; education; natural and behavioral sciences; humanities and social sciences; and visual, media, and performing arts.
Brooklyn College has served as a pathway for success for thousands of alumni, including several U.S. Senators, federal judges, Pulitzer Prize recipients, Olympic medal holders, and Emmy and Academy Award-winning actors and actresses. The college offers affordable tuition, interest-free payment plans, and generous scholarship and financial aid packages.
Brooklyn College has become increasingly selective, accepting only 40% of all applicants. First-time applicants must have an SAT score of at least 1000 or the ACT equivalent.
Brooklyn College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
3. Purdue University
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 149
Established in 1869, this Indiana-based public research university serves 43,000 students through nearly 300 programs. In addition to its respected engineering degrees, administers programs in pharmacy, healthcare, veterinary medicine, and management, among dozens of other fields.
In 2018, the university created Purdue Online, an integrated system-wide initiative of online courses, certificates, and degrees. Purdue Online makes affordable online degrees available at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. The university helps distance learners reduce the cost of their education by offering credit for work experience, awarding grants to transfer students from selected community colleges, and providing tuition discounts for employees of partner corporations.
Committed to keeping quality education affordable, the university grants some form of financial aid, primarily in the form of grants and scholarships, to approximately 46% of new students.
Purdue is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
4. University of Florida
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 102
Since its beginnings over 160 years ago, the has grown into the third-largest college in the Sunshine State, enrolling over 52,000 students. UF offers over 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate programs.
UF's college of engineering focuses on increasing diversity among its graduates, especially for underrepresented minorities and women. In addition to engineering, the most popular fields of study at UF include marketing, business, communication, and biological and biomedical sciences.
UF also offers over 20 online majors and five minors. Each online program at UF delivers coursework asynchronously.
UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
5. Oklahoma State University
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 89
More than 35,000 students attend , a public land-grant university based in the mid-sized city of Stillwater. OSU offers over 300 undergraduate programs and 200 graduate programs at its five campus locations and online.
Established as an agricultural college in 1890, OSU has evolved into the state's most prominent STEM-focused institution, widely recognized for its veterinary medicine and engineering programs. One of six sun-grant universities in the nation, OSU develops and supports bioenergy research and environmentally sustainable initiatives.
OSU has established several affordable online bachelor's degrees in business, pre-law, nursing, and engineering and computer science. Most of OSU's 30 online master's degrees eliminate all on=campus requirements.
Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,
6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 62
The oldest public university in the U.S., the offers a strong, affordable education to over 19,000 students annually. Carolina is known as a "Public Ivy," a public institution that delivers an Ivy League academic experience at a state school price.
Carolina maintains a commitment to accessibility and affordability through several innovative programs, including a need-blind admission policy and low-debt, full-need financial aid packages. Carolina offers 97 bachelor's, 103 master's, and 72 doctoral degrees. Distance learning offerings include eight certificate programs, nine master's, and two doctoral degrees, delivered entirely online or hybrid formats. This highly selective institution reports a 24% acceptance rate and an average SAT score of 1350 for admitted students.
Carolina is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
7. California State University, Long Beach
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 90
, Long Beach enrolls over 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students at its main campus in Southern California and online. CSULB boasts affordable tuition rates and high earning potential and mobility rates for its graduates. CSULB is a selective university, admitting 28% of applicants.
Students interested in distance learning may enroll in web-based courses and programs through CalStateOnline, the state system's centralized portal for distance learning. The CalStateOnine system offers 74 bachelor's, 146 master's, and 7 doctorates in fully online and hybrid formats.
CSULB is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission
8. California State University, Los Angeles
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 67
serves over 26,000 students through 300 programs and eight schools. Cal State LA is the second-oldest member of the California State University System and a Hispanic-Serving Institution.
Popular undergraduate majors at Cal State LA include criminal justice, sociology, business administration and management, child development, and psychology. The college's most popular graduate fields are counseling, social work, special education, nursing, and education.
Cal State LA maintains a commitment to accessible and reasonably priced education. More than half of all undergraduates qualify for tuition waivers, and 84% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The distance education division, CalState Online, offers affordable online degrees for three types of students: career changers, career advancers, and military students.
Cal State LA is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
9. Indiana University Bloomington
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 91
is Hoosier State's flagship school. Established in 1820, IU now serves 48,000 students in more than 550 programs, including over 200 undergraduate majors on-campus and online.
Since 2002, IU has offered online bachelor's degrees designed to meet the needs of working professionals. IU's Office of Online Education provides an array of resources for distance learners, including orientations, success coaches, and technological support. Distance learners also qualify for transfer credits toward their degree based on life and work experience or military training.
As one of the most affordable schools in the state, IU works with students to manage costs and minimize post-graduation college debt. 64% of undergraduates receive grants or scholarships.
IU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
10. University of Illinois at Chicago
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 92
Created in 1982 through the merger of the University of Illinois Medical Center and the Chicago Circle campus, the is the Windy City's only public research university. In addition to its well-regarded hospital system and medical school, UIC operates 16 separate academic colleges.
UIC offers 86 undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts, life sciences, urban and public affairs, and the arts, in addition to education, engineering, and public health. Students can earn graduate degrees in 111 master's and 66 doctoral programs.
UIC offers 15 fully online undergraduate programs in business administration, English, and mathematics. Besides online degrees, students may pursue a "stackable" online certificate. Stackable programs allow students to earn credits that may be reused, or stacked, in the future to fulfill academic requirements to complete a bachelor's or advanced degree.
UIC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
11. University of California, San Diego
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 90
Established in 1960, the enrolls over 39,000 students in over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. UC San Diego operates four undergraduate colleges and seven highly ranked graduate and professional schools
This selective "Public Ivy" has earned a reputation for academic excellence on the same level as prestigious Ivy League schools at a more affordable state school price. Students at UC San Diego experience rigorous educational training, high four-year graduation rates, low average student debt at graduation, and ample financial support. Approximately 58% of all students receive at least one grant or scholarship.
Many programs permit students to enroll in online classes as part of their degree. The UC San Diego Extension Division, serving non-degree seekers and working professionals, offers over 4,000 classes and 100 certificates on-campus and online.
UC San Diego is regionally accredited through the WASC Senior College and University Commission
12. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 78
In 1969, the campuses of Purdue Indianapolis Extension Center and merged to form Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. IUPUI enrolls more than 29,000 learners in over 450 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The university operates 17 separate schools and two colleges in fields such as medicine, public health, law, engineering, and business in addition to social work and the liberal arts.
IUPUI has also developed more than 140 affordable online degrees and certificates programs. Distance learners receive support from an array of technological and academic services.
The university strives to keep education affordable and accessible by keeping tuition reasonably priced, helping students manage debt, and helping low-income applicants get all the financial aid they need. IUPUI awards some form of need-based aid to approximately 63% of full-time undergraduates.
IUPUI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
13. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 66
The , as the second-largest Hispanic-Serving Institution in the U.S. describes itself as “bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate." UTRGV began operations in 2015 following the merger of three border region schools: the University of Texas at Brownsville, the University of Texas - Pan American, and the University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center at Harlingen.
UTRGV offers more than 120 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at 13 schools and colleges. UTRGV offers online bachelor's degrees, master's, and certificates in entirely online and hybrid formats. Many programs deliver courses in an accelerated seven-week schedule.
UTRGV tuition ranks among the lowest of all public universities in Texas. UTRGV guarantees not to increase tuition for up to four years and caps tuition at 12 semester credits, permitting students to take up to two more courses each semester for no additional charge.
UTRGV is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
14. California State University, Fresno
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 68
From its beginnings as a teacher's college in 1911, became part of the state university system in 1961 and acquired university status in 1972. The university has expanded into a comprehensive public institution that enrolls nearly 25,000 students annually. Commonly known as Fresno State, the university offers 60 bachelor's degrees, 45 master's, and three doctoral programs in eight schools and colleges.
The U.S. Department of Education has designated Fresno State as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, reflecting its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Fresno State students interested in distance learners may pursue several certificates, bachelor's, and graduate degrees through the CalStateOnline system. These affordable online degrees, available entirely web-based or in blended formats, offer the same curriculum as campus-based programs taught by the same faculty.
Fresno State is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
15. Harvard University
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 92
, founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Harvard is recognized internationally for its schools of business, medicine, law, and government.
Harvard enrolls over 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, making it the largest of the eight Ivy League universities. One of the most selective schools in the nation, Harvard accepts only 5% of applicants.
Harvard provides an exceptional undergraduate education at a surprisingly affordable price. About 55% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of need-based financial aid. Students from low-income backgrounds qualify for an exemption or reduction of the FAFSA-mandated expected family contribution.
While best known for its top-rated on-campus programs, Harvard also offers several distance learning opportunities, including online bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees and certificates, and individual courses through the Harvard Extension School, the university's continuing education division.
Harvard is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
16. University of California, Los Angeles
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 109
One of the nation's Public Ivies, the provides educational quality comparable to Ivy League schools at a much lower tuition. Part of the 10-campus University of California System, the university enrolls over 44,000 learners in six undergraduate schools, four health science schools, and seven professional schools.
Several individual programs offer online courses, certificates, and full degrees. Students often enhance their campus-based learning experience by simultaneously taking online classes offered by other University of California schools while enrolled in classes on the UCLA campus.
UCLA remains committed to affordable and accessible education. UCLA provides grants that fully cover tuition and fees for California residents whose annual family income falls below $80,000.
UCLA is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
17. California State University, Northridge
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 73
serves a student population of over 38,000 enrolled in approximately 150 different programs.
CSUN offers a variety of online bachelor’s degrees, graduate programs, and certificates. Working adults seeking career advancement can complete online undergraduate and graduate degrees through CSUN's Tseng College of Graduate, International, and Midcareer Education.
One of the Golden State's most affordable schools for undergraduates, CSUN awards grants or scholarships to over half of all incoming first-year students. As a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, CSUN promotes inclusion and accessibility for its diverse student body. CSUN's innovative Educational Opportunity Program helps first-generation, low-income students achieve academic success.
CSUN is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission
18. University of Michigan
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 152
The is one of the most respected public research universities in the country江西11选5走势图. Serving 48,000 students, U-M offers more than 250 programs through 19 schools and colleges.
This selective enrollment school grants admission to fewer than one out of every four applicants. U-M provides its undergraduates with a quality education comparable to a private Ivy League institution at a much lower price. The only public university in Michigan that covers 100% of demonstrated financial need for eligible Michigan residents, U-M awards financial aid to 70% of in-state applicants. Students whose families earn less than $65,000 annually receive free tuition.
Individual departments independently administer online bachelor's degrees and graduate programs, establishing their own admission and curriculum requirements. Students may also enroll in online courses through U-M's Dearborn and Flint campuses.
U-M is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
19. University of South Florida
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 82
A member of the State University System of Florida, the operates three separate campuses in Tampa, Sarasota, and Saint Petersburg. USF offers over 200 different programs.
USF also offers several distance learning degrees. Some of USF's approximately 30 online graduate degrees require on-campus labs or on-site field placements. The university's six online bachelor's degrees, available entirely online or in hybrid formats, include majors in information studies, nursing, public health, criminal justice, and criminology.
USF strives to make education accessible and affordable, earning recognition for its initiatives directed at under-represented and lower-income students. The U.S. News & World Report ranks USF as one of the best public universities for social mobility, which measures the success of retaining and graduating students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
20. University of California, Riverside
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 79
The , one of 10 schools within the University of California System, is an affordable public research institution that serves a student body of over 25,000. UC Riverside offers nearly 200 different programs across five separate schools. UCR Extension, the university's distance learning department, offers more than 400 online classes and professional certificate programs.
Committed to diversity and inclusion, UC Riverside offers scholarships and creates pathways to academic success for students from diverse backgrounds. Special initiatives exist for first generation college students, previously incarcerated learners, and students from low income families and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. More than 75% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of need-based financial aid.
UC Riverside is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission
21. Utah Valley University
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 87
From its beginnings in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School, has evolved into a combined community college and public teaching university that embraces a dual mission to provide career-focused training alongside quality academic programs. The Beehive State's largest and fastest-growing university, UVU enrolls close to 41,000 students.
One of eight public colleges and universities in the Utah System of Higher Education, UVU offers open admission to all who apply. UVU also provides affordable tuition and ample opportunities for financial aid to qualified students.
The university offers degrees in humanities and social sciences, natural science, engineering and technology, and health and public service in addition to the arts, education, and business. UVU also provides 13 online bachelor's degrees in high demand majors such as aviation science, criminal justice, nursing, and business.
UVU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
22. The University of Texas at Austin
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 118
Founded in 1883, the a has emerged as the flagship school among the fourteen universities that make up the University of Texas System. One of the largest schools in the nation, UT Austin enrolls more than 51,000 students.
The university operates 18 colleges, offering 156 undergraduate programs and 139 graduate programs in over 170 fields of study. UT Austin offers several distance learning opportunities, including MOOCs and online classes in business, management, the humanities, and engineering.
Considered a Public Ivy, this selective enrollment institution provides a quality education comparable to an Ivy League school at a public university price. UT Austin recently introduced the Texas Advance Commitment program, awarding full tuition to in-state undergraduates whose families make $65,000 a year or less and partial tuition support for students from families earning up to $125,000 annually.
UT Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
23. California State University, Fullerton
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 56
Established in 1957, , enrolls close to 40,000 students, making it the largest university in the 23-campus California State University System.
This comprehensive public university currently offers 120 bachelor's degrees, 118 master's, 19 teaching certifications, and three doctorates in 240 separate areas of study. Individual academic divisions offer evening, weekend, online, and hybrid programs, including several certificates.
As one of the most accessible and affordable public schools in the state, Cal State Fullerton provides substantial support for first generation college students and lower income students. Cal State is both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, providing financial assistance and other initiatives that foster academic success.
Cal State Fullerton is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
24. University of California, Irvine
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 92
Established in 1965, the serves over 36,000 students in 200 programs. UCI joined the Association of American Universities in 1996, the youngest school to hold membership. The third-most selective university in the 10-school University of California System, UCI accepts only 37% of all applicants.
Nearly 8% of all students enroll in at least one class online. The university's continuing education division offers several online and hybrid certificate and specialized studies programs.
This affordable "Public Ivy" university awards several merit and need-based scholarships and grants. UCI encourages qualified students with undocumented immigration status to apply for state financial aid through the California Dream Act. UCI's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan covers all tuition and fees for qualified students whose family income falls below $80,000.
UCI is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
25. New Mexico State University
Number of Bachelor's degree programs offered: 88
Established in 1888 as Las Cruces College and renamed in 1960, NMSU offers academic, technical, vocational, and continuing education programs at its main campus in Las Cruces, four community college affiliates, satellite learning centers, and online.
NMSU's 15,000 students pursue approximately 175 different programs. Known for its innovative and creative programs, NMSU enables students to explore areas such as conservation ecology, digital filmmaking, turfgrass science, and professional golf management. NMSU Online, the university's distance learning division, has developed over 70 affordable online degrees, graduate certificates, and vocational programs.
As one of the most reasonably priced schools in the state, NMSU provides tuition assistance, scholarships, and grants to low-income and first generation college students. Over 67% of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid.
NMSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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