The Most Affordable Four-Year College in Each State
Updated June 2, 2023
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Most Affordable Four-Year Colleges
From 1989 to 2019, tuition and fees tripled at public four-year institutions and more than doubled at private four-year institutions.
Also, between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, tuition rose 1.5% across all colleges and universities.
Tuition prices vary depending on factors like location, school, and program. For example, in-state students in Vermont paid an average of more than $17,000 in tuition and fees in 2020-2021. In-state students in Wyoming paid only $5,790.
Because college affordability is one of the most important things families look for in choosing a college, we've compiled a list of the most affordable 4-year schools in each state.
Most Affordable Four-Year College in Each State
Alabama - Athens State UniversityLocation
Athens State University is the most affordable four-year college in Alabama. A public university focused on upper-level education, Athens State enrolls junior and senior undergraduates in education, arts and sciences, and business programs. The university offers over 50 academic programs that cater to students seeking a flexible, affordable path to completing their bachelor's degree. Students can complete bachelor's degrees in areas like:
- Criminal Justice
- Information Technology
- Liberal Studies
- Social Science
The liberal studies major allows students to design a program of study around their goals and interests. This interdisciplinary program emphasizes career-ready skills like critical thinking and problem-solving. In the criminal justice program, students take courses in law enforcement, criminology, and the criminal justice process. The management program offers a comprehensive business education, focusing on the skills and knowledge required for managerial roles.
Students benefit from support services like a career development center, counseling services, and a transfer student success center. The university admits students with at least 36 transfer credits, including 15 general education credits, from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Alaska - University of Alaska SoutheastLocation
A public institution located in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the University of Alaska Southeast operates a campus in Juneau and extended campuses in Sitka and Ketchikan. All three campuses are situated in coastal ocean communities and take advantage of their locations to offer marine and maritime career opportunities. UAS is also among the most affordable online colleges in Alaska, thanks to its online programs.
UAS grants degrees through the School of Arts and Sciences, the Alaska College of Education, the School of Career Education, and the Maritime Training Center. The institution prioritizes small class sizes, personalized attention, and comprehensive student support. Academic programs offer a special emphasis on marine biology, outdoor studies, fisheries, and maritime training. UAS blends classroom and experiential learning to prepare graduates for in-demand careers. Bachelor's students at UAS can major in:
- Biology and Marine Biology
- Environmental Science
- Liberal Arts
- Social Sciences
The liberal arts program combines coursework in humanities, communications, and social science to build critical thinking skills. Working with a faculty advisor, students can customize the degree around their interests and goals.
Freshman applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs must meet ACT or SAT minimums. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA on all college coursework.
Arizona - University of Arizona-SouthLocation
Sierra Vista, AZTuition
The University of Arizona South, now known as the College of Applied Science & Technology (CAST), grants applied science degrees as part of the state's public university system. CAST also offers continuing education programs designed around the workforce needs of local industries. The school partners with community colleges to offer an affordable route to a bachelor's degree.
CAST enrolls a high number of nontraditional students, with an average student age of 33 years old. Over half of the school's students are first-generation college students and 30% are military affiliated. Bachelor's students can choose from applied science majors in:
- Administration of Justice
- Early Childhood Education
- Human Services
- Government and Public Service
- Organizational Leadership and Regional Commerce
The organizational leadership and regional commerce program gives students executive-level leadership skills and foundational training in business practices. Majors take courses on topics like small business management, organizational behavior, and organizational leadership. The human services program incorporates internship opportunities and a senior capstone experience to give students practical experience in the field. All of CAST's applied science programs include core courses that build writing, analysis, and critical thinking skills.
Applicants need 60 transfer credits from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also submit a resume and goal statement. Students can earn transfer credit for military experience.
Arkansas - University of Arkansas at Pine BluffLocation
Pine Bluff, ARTuition
Founded in 1890 as a land-grant institution, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff emphasizes learning, growth, and productivity through its academic programs. A public, historically black university, UAPB offers over 30 undergraduate majors, many of which incorporate internships, co-ops, and fellowships to build career-ready skills. UAPB also ranks among the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas for its extensive online options.
UAPB grants degrees through the School of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business and Management; and the School of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Human Services. Bachelor's students can major in:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- General Studies
- Industrial Technology
- Social Work
The university's undergraduate programs prepare students for in-demand careers or further study as graduate students. For example, the social work program trains students for entry-level generalist social work roles in human services organizations and prepares them for advanced standing status in master's in social work programs.
Prospective students must submit ACT or SAT scores and official high school transcripts. The university offers full admission to applicants who hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and meet minimum ACT or SAT scores. Students who do not meet these requirements may earn conditional admission.
California - California State University-Los AngelesLocation
Los Angeles, CATuition
Part of the state university system, California State University, Los Angeles is a comprehensive, public institution that prioritizes engagement, service, and the public good. The university grants degrees through eight colleges that span disciplines like business, education, ethnic studies, and engineering.
Cal State LA enrolls 26,000 students through over 100 undergraduate, graduate, pre-professional, and certificate programs. The school offers undergraduate degrees in:
- Business Administration
- Liberal Studies
- Public Health
Graduates from the public health program can pursue leadership roles in community health organizations or a master's in public health. The communication degree emphasizes innovation while strengthening students' communication skills, preparing them for careers in diverse fields.
Freshman applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent and a minimum 2.7 GPA in college preparatory subjects. Cal State LA admits transfer students with at least 60 credits -- including 30 credits of general education requirements -- and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Colorado - Colorado Mountain CollegeLocation
Glenwood Springs, COTuition
Colorado Mountain College offers degrees through three residential campuses and eight community campuses. The CMC district also includes three national forests, six wilderness areas, and many major ski resorts. The Glenwood Springs campus, surrounded by the White River National Forest, offers classes from its downtown business district location.
CMC offers over 120 academic programs, including bachelor's degrees, that blend classroom and experiential learning. College counselors help students meet their educational goals and map out their career plans. Students can choose from bachelor's degrees in:
- Leadership and Management
The bachelor of applied science in leadership and management admits students who have technical associate degrees. Students can specialize in areas like hospitality management, accounting, criminal justice, digital media, and graphic design.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students work with a college counselor to determine transfer credits.
Connecticut - University of Connecticut WaterburyLocation
The University of Connecticut Waterbury is a public research institution that offers 110 majors. The institution offers a comprehensive education through traditional classroom learning and practical experiences. Students can access the Center for Career Development, free one-on-one tutoring, and counseling services.
Many students complete their first two years of undergraduate study at UConn Waterbury before transfering to UConn's main campus in Storrs to complete their bachelor's degrees. However, UConn Waterbury also offers full bachelor's degrees in:
- Allied Health Sciences
- Business Administration
- Business Data Analytics
- General Studies
- Psychological Sciences
The business data analytics program combines business and data analytics training, preparing students for leadership roles in data analytics. In the general studies program, adult learners can customize a course of study based on their prior college credits and future goals.
Prospective UConn students applying as freshmen must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and an essay. Transfer applicants typically need a minimum 2.7 GPA, though some programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit standardized test scores and transcripts.
Delaware - Delaware State UniversityLocation
Founded in 1891, Delaware State University is designated one of the U.S.'s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. DSU boasts cutting-edge research innovations in fields like medicine and agriculture. The institution is also one of the most affordable online colleges in Delaware, thanks to its online and distance learning programs.
DSU offers 18 master's programs and five doctoral degrees in fields like educational leadership and applied mathematics. The school also offers 42 bachelor's programs in fields like criminal justice, information technology, management, public health, and social work.
DSU's social work program is the only BSW program in the state. The degree prepares graduates for social work careers and graduate study through its emphasis on experiential learning. The management program lets students concentrate in areas like business analytics, human resource management, and marketing.
Freshman applicants must submit official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students with fewer than 30 credits must provide high school transcripts, and transfer applicants with fewer than 12 credits must provide SAT or ACT scores. All applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Florida - Indian River State CollegeLocation
Fort Pierce, FLTuition
Indian River State College is among the most affordable online colleges in Florida. IRSC offers diverse associate, bachelor's, and certificate programs. All IRSC programs develop the skills necessary for career success while supporting students through academic and career services. Students can choose from bachelor's degrees in:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Human Services
- Organizational Management
- Public Administration
These bachelor's programs give students career-ready skills through a combination of experiential and classroom learning. Public administration students can concentrate in emergency planning and management or policy and leadership. These concentrations provide an educational foundation for leadership careers in the public sector. The criminal justice program uses practicums to train students in law enforcement, analysis, and criminology.
IRSC offers multiple fully online bachelor's programs in areas like organizational management, business administration, healthcare management, and criminal justice. However, online programs require at least one proctored assessment, and some programs incorporate an in-person practicum.
Applicants must submit transcripts. The college offers a new student orientation to help students transition into the program. Before registering for classes, new students must work with an advisor to create an academic plan.
Georgia - Atlanta Metropolitan State CollegeLocation
A public institution established in 1965, Atlanta Metropolitan State College operates four academic divisions: business administration and computer science; humanities and fine arts; science, mathematics, and health professions; and social sciences. In addition to on-campus programs, AMSC offers online courses taught by the same professors who teach on campus. AMSC is among the most affordable online colleges in Georgia.
AMSC students can choose from bachelor's degrees in:
- Biological Science
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Digital Media and Entertainment Design
- Organizational Leadership
- Teacher Education
AMSC provides instruction in diverse formats to meet the needs of students with different learning styles. Programs may incorporate online courses, multimedia instruction, and computer-based instruction to enhance learning. Students can also complete practical activities in the field while earning their degrees.
Prospective students must submit official transcripts. AMSC uses a placement test in lieu of SAT or ACT scores.
Hawaii - University of Hawaii-West OahuLocation
Founded in 1976, the University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu offers accessible, affordable higher education on the leeward side of Hawaii's most populous island. The school hosts 3,000 undergraduate students through programs designed to meet the needs of the local job market.
UH West O'ahu grants bachelor's degrees in subjects like:
- Applied Science
- Business Administration
- Natural Science
- Social Sciences
Within these programs, students can concentrate on areas like economics, finance, Hawaiian-Pacific studies, management, and sociology. The humanities degree emphasizes a multicultural perspective. The business administration program provides foundational training in business objectives and processes, preparing students for managerial roles in diverse industries.
Freshman applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA. Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement can gain admission with strong SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students need at least 24 prior credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Idaho - Lewis-Clark State CollegeLocation
Located at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, Lewis-Clark State College is a public institution that dates back to 1893. LCSC provides academic, career, and technical education as well as community programs. The college enrolls 3,700 students; first-generation college students comprise 76% of the student body. In addition to on-campus programs, LCSC provides nine online programs and nearly 400 online courses, making it one of the most affordable online colleges in Idaho.
Students can choose from over 130 degree and certificate programs. LCSC grants bachelor's degrees in majors like:
- Engineering Technology
- Sport Administration
- Web Design and Development
These career-focused programs help students build on prior education and experience. For example, the engineering technology bachelor of applied science program admits students with an associate degree in engineering technology. Students work with a program advisor to design a course of study aligned with their career goals. In the kinesiology program, learners study the human body, choosing from concentrations like exercise science, sports studies, and coaching.
Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 GPA and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students with at least 14 college credits need a minimum 2.0 GPA. LCSC may admit students who do not meet the minimum requirements on a probationary basis.
Illinois - University of Illinois at SpringfieldLocation
The University of Illinois at Springfield is the most affordable four-year college in the state. Established in 1969, the institution emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, research, and outreach. UIS hosts 4,200 students, including nearly 1,500 online students.
Students at UIS can earn degrees from four colleges: the College of Business and Management, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the College of Public Affairs and Administration. The school offers bachelor's degrees in:
- Business Administration
- Environmental Studies
- Global Studies
- Legal Studies
- Public Policy
Students in the business administration program can choose from concentrations like finance, management, marketing, and sport management. The most popular programs at UIS include computer science, business administration, exercise science, and communication. In addition to on-campus programs, UIS offers online degrees in several majors, including psychology.
Prospective students must submit official high school and college transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a list of activities, work experiences, and community service. UIS also requests a personal statement detailing the applicant's professional goals, intellectual interests, and personal experiences.
Indiana - Indiana University-NorthwestLocation
Indiana University Northwest operates the only medical school and the top business school in northwest Indiana. UI Northwest offers a high-quality education at an affordable price, including online programs. The university's online classes, designed by experienced faculty members, offer highly interactive coursework and engaging learning content.
IU Northwest offers over 70 on-campus and hybrid bachelor's degrees, including programs in applied science, business, mathematics, social work, and general studies. The general studies major combines liberal arts and science classes with professional and technical courses, allowing students to design a plan of study around their career goals. IU Northwest provides student support through academic advising, tutoring, and career services.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants with 26 or more transfer credits do not need to submit standardized test scores.
Iowa - Iowa State UniversityLocation
Established by the state legislature in 1858, Iowa State University enrolls over 33,000 students through 10 schools and colleges. Students can participate in over 800 student organizations, engage in undergraduate research projects, and complete internships.
Learners can choose from 100 bachelor's majors, including:
- Actuarial Science
- Agricultural Studies
- Business Analytics
- Liberal Studies
- Religious Studies
Within these majors, students build critical thinking and analytical skills. The religious studies major emphasizes intellectual curiosity, covering various religious traditions and systems. In the business analytics program, students gain analytical skills and business knowledge. The liberal studies program lets students tailor the degree to their goals and interests.
Iowa State evaluates freshman applicants based on their Regent Admission Index scores -- a formula that evaluates standardized test scores, cumulative high school GPAs, and the number of years of high school core courses. Applicants with fewer than 24 college credits, including first-time college students, must submit official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students with at least 24 college credits need a minimum 2.25 GPA. Iowa State also admits candidates with an associate degree and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Kansas - Fort Hays State UniversityLocation
A public institution founded in 1902, Fort Hays State University enrolls over 15,000 students each year, including 7,000 online students. Students gain access to academic advising services, tutoring support, and a writing center. Thanks to its extensive online programs, FHSU ranks among the most affordable online colleges in Kansas.
FHSU offers on-campus and online bachelor's degrees in areas like education, leadership studies, management, political science, and technology studies. Leadership studies learners explore leadership theory and strengthen career-ready skills through interactive classes and internships. Technology studies covers the impact of technology on research, development, and engineering. Through theoretical coursework and practical learning, students gain the technical and leadership skills needed for technology careers.
Applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants with fewer than 24 transferable credits must also submit ACT or SAT scores.
Kentucky - Northern Kentucky UniversityLocation
Highland Heights, KYTuition
A metropolitan university in a Cincinnati suburb, Northern Kentucky University enrolls over 14,000 students each year. This public institution offers 22 master's programs, a law school, and multiple undergraduate majors. The institution prioritizes innovative, student-centered learning, empowering students to pursue fulfilling careers.
NKU grants degrees through eight colleges and schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Informatics, and the College of Education. Undergraduates can choose from over 70 majors, including:
- Business Information Systems
- Communication Studies
- Elementary Education
- Library Informatics
- Social Work
The social work program prepares students for generalist social work careers through courses like social work practice and social welfare policy. The library informatics program trains students in information evaluation and management, leading to career opportunities in libraries, research divisions, public service institutions, and corporate information centers.
Prospective students must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission.
Louisiana - Southern University at New OrleansLocation
New Orleans, LATuition
Located next to Pontchartrain Park, Southern University at New Orleans dates back to 1956. SUNO enrolls 2,300 students each year in its associate, bachelor's, and master's programs. A historically black university, SUNO promotes the upward mobility of all students.
SUNO operates four academic divisions: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the College of Education and Human Development, and the School of Social Work. Students can choose from bachelor's degrees in subjects like business administration, criminal justice, public administration, and psychology, or they can pursue general studies degrees.
SUNO's bachelor's programs strengthen critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills. General studies students can choose from concentrations in areas like African American studies, humanities, political science, and business. The criminal justice program incorporates coursework in law enforcement, criminology, and criminal procedure to prepare majors for criminal justice careers.
Freshman applicants under 24 years old must submit ACT or SAT scores. All applicants must submit transcripts and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Maine - University of Maine at MachiasLocation
Located on Maine's Bold Coast, the University of Maine at Machias offers unique learning and living experiences for students. With just 650 students, UMM offers a small-college feel with a public research institution mentality. Nearby Jasper Beach, Acadia National Park, and Bar Harbor provide outdoor escapes from the classroom.
At UMM, students can pursue active learning opportunities and develop leadership skills through coursework, professional internships, campus service, and community engagement. UMM grants bachelor's degrees in majors like:
- Business and Entrepreneurial Studies
- Environmental Studies
- Marine Biology
- Recreation and Tourism Management
UMM's location provides opportunities for marine biology and tourism management majors to apply their skills in practical settings. The university also runs an aquaculture laboratory and a geographic information systems lab. Students seeking flexible degree options can choose the bachelor of college studies, which is an interdisciplinary major customized to each student's educational background and goals.
Applicants must submit transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay. Most transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA, but teacher education applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Maryland - University of Maryland, BaltimoreLocation
Established in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is the state's only public health, law, and human services university. UMB's academic health center pursues cutting-edge biomedical research, and its on-campus BioPark facility is the city's biggest biotechnology cluster.
The university enrolls over 6,700 students each year. Students can choose from bachelor's degrees in areas like dental hygiene or nursing, or they can pursue nursing bridge programs like RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN.
UMB's bachelor's programs build on students' prior experience and coursework. For example, the dental hygiene program admits students with two years of pre-professional coursework and registered dental hygienists looking to advance their careers. Similarly, the nursing program admits registered nurses looking to advance their careers with a bachelor's degree.
Application requirements vary by program. For instance, applicants to the dental hygiene bachelor's program must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a specialized dental hygiene program application. Prospective nursing students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts, an essay, and a resume.
Massachusetts - University of Massachusetts-BostonLocation
The University of Massachusetts Boston is the most affordable four-year college in Massachusetts. UMass Boston offers a small college experience at a public research institution in a big city. UMass Boston enrolls nearly 16,000 students through 10 colleges. The university also partners with research institutions like the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and IBM.
In addition to over 110 graduate programs, UMass Boston grants undergraduate degrees in fields like american studies, global affairs, information technology, management, and political science.
Management students can choose from concentrations like accounting, entrepreneurship, international management, and business analytics. The program incorporates business theory and practice, encouraging students to complete internships with Boston companies. UMass Boston offers its global affairs degree completely online. The multidisciplinary program builds a global perspective through coursework on international public policy, international development, and cultural awareness.
Applicants must submit transcripts, optional SAT or ACT scores, an essay, and a recommendation letter.
Michigan - University of Michigan-DearbornLocation
The University of Michigan - Dearborn is a public institution that enrolls over 9,000 students each year. Undergraduate and graduate students can pursue degrees through the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; the College of Business; the College of Education, Health, and Human Services; and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Students can earn bachelor's degrees in areas like:
- Elementary Education
- International Studies
- Supply Chain Management
In the economics program, students build critical thinking and problem-solving skills while using data to examine economic relationships. The interdisciplinary supply chain management program prepares graduates for in-demand careers in logistics and supply chain management.
Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer applicants must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Transfer applicants with fewer than 24 college credits must also provide high school transcripts and standardized test scores. At UM-Dearborn, 40% of students enroll as first-generation college students and over 75% of students work at least part time.
Minnesota - University of Minnesota-MorrisLocation
A public liberal arts university, the University of Minnesota Morris prioritizes intellectual growth, environmental stewardship, and civic engagement. The university prepares future leaders to solve environmental and economic challenges through communication and collaboration on a global scale.
Students can pursue degrees in education, humanities, social sciences, and science and mathematics. In addition to undergraduate degrees, Morris offers 13 licensure-oriented and nine pre-professional programs. Morris grants bachelor's degrees in over 30 majors, including data science, education, environmental science, management, and sustainability leadership.
The data science program blends statistics and computer science coursework with liberal arts classes, giving students the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in diverse industries. The environmental science degree trains majors to solve a variety of complex scientific and environmental problems.
Applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. They can also submit written statements, letters of recommendation, and resumes to enhance their applications, but this is not required. Transfer applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants with more than 30 transfer credits do not need to submit high school transcripts or standardized test scores.
Mississippi - Mississippi Valley State UniversityLocation
Itta Bena, MSTuition
Founded as a teaching college in 1946, Mississippi Valley State University now grants degrees in the arts and sciences, professional studies, and education. The historically black university is among the most affordable colleges in Mississippi for students with prior college credit. MVSU accepts transfer credits for college-level courses with a grade of C or higher.
Bachelor's students can major in areas like:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Government and Politics
- Social Work
- Organizational Management
Education students can choose from majors in elementary education, secondary education, and early childhood education. The bachelor's degree in organizational management program allows students to transfer up to 72 credits toward the degree, including up to 30 credits for prior knowledge and experience.
Freshman applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges.
Missouri - Missouri Southern State UniversityLocation
Founded in 1937 as a junior college, Missouri Southern State University became a four-year institution in 1965. Students can choose from over 140 academic programs, including diverse online programs. MSSU lowers the cost of attending college by offering in-state tuition discounts to students from neighboring states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas.
The university offers bachelor's degrees in areas like applied science, business administration, logistics, nursing, and public relations. Business administration students can choose from concentrations like accounting, economics, finance, human resource management, and international business. Students can also pursue general studies degrees, which combine courses from multiple disciplines to customize the curriculum to individual interests and goals.
Freshman applicants must hold a minimum 2.25 GPA, rank in the top 50% of their classes, and score at least 21 on the ACT or 1080 on the SAT. Transfer applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission.
Montana - Montana State University-NorthernLocation
Founded in 1929, Montana State University - Northern offers affordable education and distributes $11 million in financial awards every year. Roughly 80% of the school's more than 1,000 students receive some type of financial aid.
The college features more than 35 undergraduate and graduate majors. The school's most popular majors include elementary education, nursing, business, diesel technology, and counselor education. Students can take classes on the school's 115-acre campus in Havre or choose from a variety of online programs.
Online programs include associate degrees in general education and business. Students can also earn online bachelor's degrees in community leadership, nursing, business administration, criminal justice, business technology, or trades management. Additionally, the college offers an online master of education in instruction and learning.
Online tuition costs substatially less per credit for Montana residents than it does for non-residents. Students living in states that participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange qualify for discounted out-of-state tuition.
Undergraduates, including transfer students, can earn scholarships based on their financial need and academic records. The college awards scholarships for students studying in fields such as agriculture, business, education, and nursing.
Nebraska - University of Nebraska at OmahaLocation
The University of Nebraska at Omaha -- a public research institution founded in 1908 -- is one of the most affordable online colleges in Nebraska and offers ample opportunities for financial aid. The university's over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students are 37.2% first-generation college students. UNO's more than 100 online programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, offer flexible classes to suit adult learners with busy schedules.
The school's online master's in criminology and criminal justice and bachelor's in general studies ranked among the best in the nation in 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report. The bachelor's in general studies degree includes 50 concentrations and allows students to choose between fully online and hybrid courses. Online students learn from the same instructors who teach on campus.
Online learners can access resources and services like the Writing Center, the Math-Science Learning Center, and personalized academic advising. On-campus undergraduates pay less for in-state tuition than non-residents, as do online students. However, online in-state students pay more than on-campus in-state students, so for state residents, it might make more sense to attend school on campus. In 2017 and 2018, community supporters donated $14.5 million to the university, which funds scholarship opportunities and faculty positions.
Nevada - College of Southern NevadaLocation
Las Vegas, NVTuition
The College of Southern Nevada provides the most affordable tuition in the state. The school offers more than 180 degree and certificate programs, including 24 online programs. Students can earn fully online certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees.
Online courses use mostly asynchronous formats, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Distance learners gain access to online library resources, tutoring services, and technology assistance to support their studies.
The College of Southern Nevada maintains partnerships with four-year colleges and universities in the Nevada System of Higher Education to allow students to easily transfer credits. Learners can receive credit for military, professional, and academic experience. The school's College Transfer Credit Evaluation Tool helps students estimate potential transfer credits.
The school offers a variety of scholarship opportunities. CSN students who demonstrate significant financial need can apply for the Career and Technical Education Assistance Program to receive additional access to scholarships and textbook assistance.
New Hampshire - Granite State CollegeLocation
Established in 1972, Granite State College is a public institution that offers affordable, flexible, accessible undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition to on-campus programs, the school offers over 100 online programs, including 19 fully online bachelor's degrees.
Students can choose from online bachelor's degrees in areas like communication studies, early childhood education, healthcare management, and psychology. Online learners can also pursue fully online master's degrees in disciplines such as nursing, project management, and instruction and leadership.
As of the fall of 2018, about 83% of the school's student body were transfer students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition to credit for prior postsecondary classes, the college awards transfer credit for military training, work experience, and standardized tests.
To help offset the costs of tuition, Granite State College offers tuition waivers and discounts to several demographics, including active-duty military, former foster children, and graduates of Granite State College programs.
New Jersey - Thomas Edison State UniversityLocation
Founded in 1972, Thomas Edison State University offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate majors, making it one of the most affordable online colleges in New Jersey. With an average student age of 35, the school serves nontraditional learners through online, evening, and weekend classes that give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.
The school's online programs include 13 associate degrees, 34 bachelor's degrees, and 17 master's degrees. Classes span 12 weeks and include mentorship opportunities for students. Students complete most coursework online and take midterms and final exams through the Online Proctor Service. Additionally, the school's self-directed courses help incarcerated learners take classes without internet access by using the postal service to send and receive course materials.
Students can transfer up to 80 credits toward a bachelor's degree. The school offers credit for prior learning, such as military training, licenses and certifications, academic classes, and work experience. The college also allows students to pass courses and earn credit by examination.
Distance learners can begin on one of many start dates throughout the year. Learners who temporarily interrupt their education can often resume their studies without losing any credits.
New Mexico - Northern New Mexico CollegeLocation
Established in 1909, Northern New Mexico College offers affordable and accessible higher education opportunities. This public institution began with training teachers to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking communities. Today, Northern continues to serve Hispanic and Native-American communities.
The college grants two- and four-year degrees and certificates. Students can take traditional classes on campus or pursue fully online and hybrid degrees through the school's distance education division. Online courses follow the same semester schedule as traditional classes and use a mostly asynchronous format. Students use Blackboard to check their grades and complete assignments.
Northern students can access institutional, state, and federal financial aid opportunities. For example, the Bridge Scholarship offers funds to students regardless of their citizenship. The school also offers scholarships specifically for Native-American students. Additionally, senior citizens enjoy a discounted tuition rate.
New York - CUNY Lehman CollegeLocation
Established in 1968, Lehman College of CUNY is a public commuter college that hosts over 15,000 students through 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Nearly half of the school's students identify as first-generation college students. Lehman's Office of Online Education offers online degree programs designed for nontraditional students.
Online students can choose from several modes of instruction, including partially online, hybrid, online, and fully online courses. Partially online programs offer up to 32% of their coursework online. Hybrid programs feature 33%-80% of their coursework online, while online programs comprise 80% of online coursework. Fully online courses do not include any in-person requirements aside from proctored exams. Online students access class materials through Blackboard.
Students can receive transfer credit for prior postsecondary work or for work and life experiences. Lehman accepts transfer students on a rolling basis. Transfer students need at least 24 prior credits with a minimum 2.3 GPA. Students transferring with a SUNY or CUNY associate degree only need a 2.0 GPA. Students with a strong academic record can apply for free tuition through the William E. Macaulay Honors Program.
North Carolina - Elizabeth City State UniversityLocation
Elizabeth City, NCTuition
Elizabeth City State University is a public college that strives for "economic, social, and environmental progress" by offering affordable and accessible educational opportunities. The school was founded in 1891 to train African American teachers. The university maintains its tradition of accessibility and inclusivity with a large selection of distance learning programs.
ECSU delivers online programs through Blackboard, offering both asynchronous and synchronous classes. Asynchronous courses do not require set login times, while synchronous courses require students to log in at specific times for class. Online degree options include a fully online bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies and a bachelor's in homeland security. The university also offers an online master's in elementary education.
All online students need an associate degree or 60 prior core credits from a community college with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students can transfer credits earned with a "C" or better. A member of the North Carolina Promise program, ECSU is one of the most affordable colleges in the nation. In 2018, the program reduced in-state tuition by $500 per semester and out-of-state tuition by $2,500 per semester at three North Carolina colleges, including ECSU.
North Dakota - Dickinson State UniversityLocation
Established in 1918, Dickinson State University hosts around 1,350 students from 33 states and 17 countries annually. The school has a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, offering students personalized attention from faculty. Learners can choose from more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, including a variety of online programs offered through DSU Online.
Online undergraduate students can choose from majors in areas like accounting, administration, arts, agriculture sales/service equine management, or nursing. Graduate students can earn an online master's in teaching or master's in entrepreneurship. The school delivers online courses through Blackboard. Online students can access on-campus and online tutoring services in addition to electronic resources from the Stoxen Library.
DSU offers a variety of financial aid opportunities for distance learners, and online students pay flat-rate tuition regardless of where they live. Prospective students can determine potential transfer credits by visiting the Transfer Equivalency Website.
Ohio - Ohio University-Eastern CampusLocation
Saint Clairsville, OHTuition
Established in 1957, Ohio University - Eastern Campus hosts more than 34,000 students each year. The university enrolls students on its main campus in Athens, at five regional campuses, and online. Students can choose from 10 online bachelor's programs in areas like criminal justice, human services, psychology, and applied management. The university also offers five online associate degrees.
The school has a generous transfer credit policy, allowing students to transfer credits from prior academic work and military experience. Students can also earn credits by examination or through prior learning assessments. Students pay tuition based on their residency and enrollment status. Tuition is fixed for 12 semesters.
Freshman applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, and transfer students must submit official transcripts showing a minimum of nine prior credits. Applicants can optionally submit additional materials, such as letters of recommendation or resumes, to bolster their applications. Some schools and programs, such as the Honors Tutorial College and Journalism School, require admission essays.
Oklahoma - Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma CityLocation
Oklahoma City, OKTuition
Established in 1961, Oklahoma State University - Oklahoma City is part of a five-campus system that primarily serves students who want to earn a two-year degree before transferring to a four-year university. After earning an associate degree, students can seamlessly transfer to Oklahoma State University, which offers bachelor's and graduate programs.
OSU-OKC offers fully online associate programs in areas like business administration, health sciences, human service, and liberal arts. Students can also earn an online certificate in human service. Online classes use an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations
Some degrees offer concentrations that let students tailor the degree to their career goals. For instance, the associate degree in human service offers concentrations in early care education administration, early care education, police science, and public safety management.
In addition to state and federal financial aid, students can access institutional funding opportunities. Freshmen may receive tuition waivers based on their academic records and standardized test scores. For example, the President's Waiver awards up to $2,200 per year, while the Achievement Waiver awards up to $1,600 per year. Students may also receive waivers based on financial need.
Oregon - Southern Oregon UniversityLocation
Founded in 1972, Southern Oregon University is one of the most affordable online colleges in Oregon. Designed for working adults, the university offers a variety of flexible, online programs, including five bachelor's, two master's, and three certificate programs.
Some online programs have in-person requirements. For example, the bachelor's in early childhood development requires a practicum or internship. Other programs require students to have prior academic or professional experience, such as the bachelor's in innovation and leadership, which only admits students with five years of career training and two years of college experience.
SOU has articulation agreements with several two-year colleges in Oregon and California to help facilitate seamless transfers for students. SOU automatically considers new students for scholarships.
Oregon residents pay a much lower tuition rate than out-of-state students. Undocumented students may qualify for in-state tuition prices, according to the Oregon Tuition Equity program. Residents of states participating in the Western Undergraduate Exchange can also receive discounted tuition.
Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania State University-Penn State ShenangoLocation
Housed on a 13-acre campus, Pennsylvania State University at Shenango opened in 1965 and offers several undergraduate and graduate programs, including six bachelor's degrees, five associate degrees, and two master's degrees.
Students can begin their degrees at Penn State Shenango before seamlessly transferring to one of Penn State's 20 other campuses, which offer more than 275 majors. In addition to traditional classes, students can learn online through Canvas. The larger Penn State Online system features more than 150 asynchronous online programs.
Online students enjoy access to many of the same resources as traditional students, such as career guidance, resume assistance, and tutoring services. The school offers several financial aid opportunities to help students offset the cost of their education. For example, new students with a minimum 3.0 GPA receive a guaranteed $3,000 scholarship.
Rhode Island - Rhode Island CollegeLocation
Rhode Island College opened in 1954 to train future teachers in Rhode Island. Today, the school hosts about 8,500 students through diverse undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can choose from 90 areas of study offered through five schools.
While the college does not offer fully online degrees, students can take classes completely online with approval from program directors. The college also offers night courses to cater to working students. Rhode Island College emphasizes experiential learning through internships, practicums, and research projects.
Transfer students with a minimum 3.25 GPA may qualify for scholarships between $2,500 and $5,000. Residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut receive discounted out-of-state tuition through the Metropolitan Tuition Policy. Senior citizens and disabled veterans may receive tuition waivers.
South Carolina - Francis Marion UniversityLocation
Francis Marion University serves over 4,000 students from 25 states and 13 countries. The school offers 85 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs. In addition to on-campus programs, students can choose from a variety of fully online degrees, including an RN-to-BSN, a master's in nurse educator, and an MSN-to-DNP program.
FMU offers some of the lowest tuition in South Carolina. Full-time, in-state students half of what out-of-state students pay, both for undergraduate and graduate studies. The university also offers more than 1,200 scholarships every year through South Carolina's Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, and HOPE programs.
Admission requirements vary by program. Nursing programs may require applicants to submit a criminal background check, health histories, and proof of an active nursing license. Transfer students must submit transcripts showing at least a 2.0 GPA.
South Dakota - Black Hills State UniversityLocation
Black Hills State University offers some of the most affordable tuition rates in South Dakota. The school hosts almost 4,000 students each year, with South Dakota residents comprising about 75% of the student population. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in over 80 areas of study.
In addition to on-campus programs, BHSU offers a few fully online degrees, including two bachelor's degrees and five master's degrees. Students can also earn teaching endorsements and certificates completely online.
Some online programs have in-person requirements. For instance, the bachelor of business administration in business management requires an internship, while the master of education in reading requires a practicum, to be completed in the student's local school district.
In-state undergraduates pay less than out-of-state students, and students living in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa also pay in-state tuition rates. Certain students, such as state employees, teachers, and graduate assistants, may qualify for additionally reduced tuition.
Tennessee - Tennessee State UniversityLocation
Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University offers 38 undergraduate and 24 graduate degrees. The school's online learning division, TSU @ a Distance, offers distance learning opportunities designed to meet the needs of working adults, including seven bachelor's programs and 16 master's programs. This makes it one of the most affordable online colleges in Tennessee. Distance students can take classes online or at off-campus sites.
In addition to credit for prior academic work, the school awards transfer credits for military, professional, and volunteer experience. Students may also earn credit by examination. In-state undergraduates pay less than half of that out-of-state students pay per credit. However, online students from out of state enjoy significant tuition discounts compared to their on-campus peers.
In addition to federal and state loans, students can receive performance and department scholarships through the university.
Texas - The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyLocation
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is among the most affordable public colleges in the state. UTRGV offers guaranteed tuition rates for four years. Additionally, undergraduate students who meet income requirements may receive a free education beginning in the fall of 2020 through UTRGV Tuition Advantage.
The school offers more than 120 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees through 13 colleges and schools. In addition to on-campus programs, students can pursue fully online master's degrees in areas like kinesiology, mathematics, and bioethics. Students can also pursue a fully online RN-to-BSN program.
Most online programs feature asynchronous coursework, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Students can expedite graduation by taking more than 12 credits every semester. Students only need to pay tuition on 12 credits per semester.
As a member of the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems, UTRGV receives funding from the Permanent University Fund (PUF). The PUF receives revenue from oil and minerals produced from 2.1 million acres of land granted to the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems by the Texas Constitution. It uses the funds to improve higher education in Texas.
Utah - Utah Valley UniversityLocation
Utah Valley University offers some of the lowest tuition rates in the state. The university hosts nearly 40,000 students each year, about 38% of whom are first-generation college students. The university opened in 1941 to provide vocational training. Today, the school offers more than 200 degrees, including 30 online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.
As a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, Utah Valley University offers online degrees to students nationwide. However, degrees that require internships or practicums may not be available in all states. For example, the bachelor's in criminal justice requires an internship, and the master's in nursing degree requires a practicum in a clinical setting.
In-state undergraduates pay about a third of what out-of-state undergraduates pay per credit. However, all students have access to a variety of financial aid opportunities to offset the costs off their education. About 1,374 of the school's full-time undergraduates received an average of $6,248 in institutional scholarships during the 2017-2018 school year. The university has an open admission policy.
Vermont - Northern Vermont UniversityLocation
Northern Vermont University began in 2018 with the consolidation of Johnson State College and Lyndon State College. Students at NVU can choose between on-campus and online degrees. The school's online learning division, NVU Online, offers 12 fully online associate and bachelor's degrees and two fully online master's degrees.
The school delivers online courses through Canvas, which uses a mix of asynchronous and synchronous components. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Online students gain access to tutoring services, library resources, and academic advising.
NVU offers a variety of institutional scholarships to help offset tuition costs. Students applying for online degrees follow a different application process than on-campus students. NVU accepts applications throughout the year. Students can begin in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.
Virginia - The University of Virginia's College at WiseLocation
Founded in 1954, the University of Virginia's College at Wise is a four-year liberal arts college that offers 31 majors, 36 minors, and 17 teaching licenses. UVA-Wise ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the country with the lowest student loan debt. About 80% of the school's students receive some form of financial aid.
Students at UVA-Wise can pursue degrees in areas like business, communications, nursing, and teaching. Learners can accelerate their degrees by attending Summer College. UVA-Wise offers many institutional scholarships that students can use in tandem with state and federal financial aid. Students can receive between $1,000 and $6,500 in merit-based scholarships.
Virginia residents pay less than half in tuition than what out-of-state students pay. Kentucky and Tennessee residents also enjoy a tuition discount. UVA-Wise accepts transfer students with a minimum 2.2 GPA.
Washington - Bellevue CollegeLocation
Established in 1966, Bellevue College offers a variety of associate, bachelor's, and certificate programs. Through the Intercollege Relations Commission transfer agreement, students can earn associate degrees at Bellevue College and seamlessly transfer to a four-year program at participating institutions.
The school offers several of its programs completely online, including bachelor's degrees in healthcare informatics, healthcare management, and leadership. Students can also pursue fully online associate degrees in arts and science, business, and general studies.
Bellevue College uses Canvas to deliver online courses. In some cases, online students may need to take proctored exams, attend field trips, or complete in-person service learning projects. Online courses use an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.
Students taking exclusively online courses may receive an e-learning waiver that provides discounted tuition for non-residents. Bellevue College's financial aid opportunities include tuition waivers for veterans, college athletes, and higher education employees. The BC Foundation also offers scholarships based on academic merit and financial need.
West Virginia - West Virginia University at ParkersburgLocation
Founded in 1961, West Virginia University at Parkersburg offers flexible, affordable certificate, associate, and bachelor's programs catered to working adults. WVU Parkersburg is an independent institution affiliated with West Virginia University. Many students complete general education credits at WVU Parkersburg before transferring to West Virginia University to complete a bachelor's degree.
The school offers many of its programs online, including a fully online bachelor's in child development and an associate degree in surgical technology. WVU Parkersburg caps tuition fees at 12 credits per semester, so students do not pay for credits taken beyond that limit.
In-state students and Ohio residents enjoy a tuition discount. Some programs, such as the bachelor's in supervisory management and the bachelor's in nursing, offer in-state tuition rates to all students regardless of residency.
Wisconsin - University of Wisconsin-ParksideLocation
Established in 1933, the University of Wisconsin - Parkside hosts over 4,000 students through diverse undergraduate and graduate programs. About 21% of the school's student body is at least 25 years old.
In addition to traditional programs, UW-Parkside offers several fully online programs, including six bachelor's degree completion programs and 10 master's programs. The school's Professional and Continuing Education division offers certificates, workshops, and conferences geared toward adults, including self-paced, online professional development and executive training courses.
UW-Parkside awards more than $300,000 in scholarships every year. Students can complete one general application to be considered for numerous scholarships. Out-of-state students pay more than double the tuition and fees that in-state students pay. However, Minnesota residents enjoy a tuition discount. UW-Parkside maintains articulation agreements with two-year community colleges and technical schools to facilitate seamless transfers.
Wyoming - University of WyomingLocation
Established in 1886, the University of Wyoming educates more than 12,000 students each year through a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. About one-third of the university's students are at least 25 years old.
In addition to on-campus programs, the school offers flexible, online undergraduate and graduate programs, including fully online bachelor's degrees in business administration, family and consumer sciences, and business. Fully online graduate degrees include a master of business administration and master's in nurse educator. The university also offers a fully online doctorate of education in learning, design, and technology.
The university holds articulation agreements with Wyoming community colleges to facilitate seamless transfers. The school offers several institutional scholarships for specific demographics, such as students from Nebraska, children of university alumni, and transfer students.
Most Affordable Four-Year College Ranking Guidelines
This college ranking list focuses on public and private, non-profit colleges. Affordability is selected based on the average yearly net price for undergrads at each college. This net price is based on total student costs after scholarships and select other financial awards, and it includes fees, books, materials, room and board, etc. Net price is an alternative ranking factor to the official in-state tuition value.
The Most Affordable Online Colleges
The most affordable online bachelor’s degree programs don’t just provide entry to a great career, but also give the most return on investment.
The Best Online Colleges by State
Many of the country's top-ranked colleges and universities allow students to earn online associate degrees, online bachelor's degrees, and online master's degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable Colleges
What Is the Least Expensive College in America?
The least expensive private college in the U.S. is Brigham Young University-Idaho, which charges just $4,300 a semester. However, students may find comparable or cheaper tuition rates at public in-state universities and community colleges.
What Master's Degree Should I Get to Be a Forensic Psychologist?
In-state public universities are generally more affordable than private colleges. However, private colleges sometimes offer more generous financial aid packages. Students can also attend a community college and transfer to a four-year institution to greatly reduce the costs of college.
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