The Most Affordable Four-Year College in Each State

by TBS Staff
TheBestSchools.org

thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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 University
    Location

    Athens, AL

    Tuition

    $6,060

    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:

    • Accounting
    • Criminal Justice
    • Information Technology
    • Liberal Studies
    • Management
    • 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 Southeast
    Location

    Juneau, AK

    Tuition

    $8927

    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
    • Business
    • Education
    • 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-South
    Location

    Sierra Vista, AZ

    Tuition

    $8548

    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
    • Informatics
    • 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 Bluff
    Location

    Pine Bluff, AR

    Tuition

    $10465

    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
    • Nursing
    • 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 Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $4403

    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
    • Communication
    • Economics
    • Liberal Studies
    • Nursing
    • 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 College
    Location

    Glenwood Springs, CO

    Tuition

    $5818

    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:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Leadership and Management
    • Nursing
    • Sustainability

    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 Waterbury
    Location

    Waterbury, CT

    Tuition

    $6630

    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 University
    Location

    Dover, DE

    Tuition

    $13234

    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 College
    Location

    Fort Pierce, FL

    Tuition

    $588

    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 College
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $4909

    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.

Most Affordable Colleges By Each State

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 bachelor’s degree programs don’t just provide entry to a great career, but also give the most return on investment.

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.

Featured Online Programs

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office