Monday, May 20, 2024

These Are the Cheapest Colleges in the US

The gradual decline in government funding for colleges has caused a hike in tuition fees

Expected to pay a heftier sticker price, more students now depend on scholarships, grants, and “free college” programs to fund their education. But being eligible for these options isn’t a walk in the park (and some essential expenses may not be covered). 🆓

Finding the cheapest colleges in the US might be the next best alternative to save you from student loans. 🚀

How Much Does the Average US College Cost?

The cost of going to college is nothing short of serious. In fact, the average undergraduate student debt in the US ranges from $37,000 to $55,000.  

The price varies between in-state and out-of-state students. Usually, out-of-state students end up spending more because they don’t receive the same subsidies as residents. 😱

International students often pay substantially higher tuition and fees than domestic students, due to factors such as non-resident tuition rates, health insurance costs, and living expenses — adding an extra layer of financial stress.   

What Are the Cheapest Colleges in the US?

Here are the 50 cheapest US colleges, public and private, that offer education at the lowest net price per year. 

What is a college’s “net price”? 

A college’s net price refers to the actual cost of tuition and fees after subtracting scholarships, grants, and education tax benefits you may receive. This gives you a clearer picture of what you’ll likely actually pay out of pocket. 💸

The net prices shown below are an average, meaning they could be higher or lower depending on a student’s financial aid package. 

15 Cheapest Public Colleges in the US

#InstitutionLocationNet Price per Year
1Sitting Bull CollegeNorth Dakota$496
2South Texas CollegeTexas$1,630
3Oglala Lakota CollegeSouth Dakota$2,068
4St Petersburg CollegeFlorida$2,702
5Elizabeth City State UniversityNorth Carolina$3,270
6Florida State College at JacksonvilleFlorida$3,306
7Pensacola State CollegeFlorida$3,351
8Chipola CollegeFlorida$3,554
9California State University Los AngelesCalifornia$3,859
10Indian River State CollegeFlorida$3,878
11The University of Texas at BrownsvilleTexas$3,892
12CUNY Bernard M Baruch CollegeNew York$3,913
13CUNY Hunter CollegeNew York$4,014
14Texas A & M International UniversityTexas$4,165
15CUNY John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York$4,221
16The University of Texas-Pan AmericanTexas$4,419
17CUNY City CollegeNew York$4,546
18California State University Dominguez HillsCalifornia$4,683
19CUNY Brooklyn CollegeNew York$4,736
20Colorado Mountain CollegeColorado$4,784
21Valencia CollegeFlorida$4,901
22Miami Dade CollegeFlorida$4,998
23CUNY New York City College of TechnologyNew York$5,097
24Seattle Community College-Central CampusWashington$5,191
25CUNY York CollegeNew York$5,228

25 Cheapest Private Colleges in the US

InstitutionLocationNet Price per Year
1Bethel CollegeVirginia$148
2Tri-State Bible CollegeOhio$768
3Talmudical Seminary of BobovNew York$2,154
4Yeshiva Karlin StolinNew York$2,537
5Kehilath Yakov Rabbinical SeminaryNew York$2,666
6Shasta Bible College and Graduate SchoolCalifornia$2,781
7Talmudical Institute of Upstate New YorkNew York$3,230
8Yeshiva of Nitra Rabbinical CollegeNew York$4,799
9Rabbinical College Bobover Yeshiva Bnei ZionNew York$5,173
10Machzikei Hadath Rabbinical CollegeNew York$5,675
11Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem of AmericaNew York$5,750
12Yeshiva Toras ChaimNew Jersey$5,774
13Salish Kootenai CollegeMontana$5,893
14Western International UniversityArizona$5,911
15Yeshiva Gedolah Imrei Yosef D’spinkaNew York$5,923
16Jamestown Business CollegeNew York$6,121
17Telshe Yeshiva ChicagoIllinois$6,326
18Sh’or Yoshuv Rabbinical CollegeNew York$6,340
19California Christian CollegeCalifornia$6,560
20National American University Ellsworth AFB ExtensionSouth Dakota$6,675
21Bais Medrash Toras ChesedNew Jersey$6,745
22Yeshiva D’monsey Rabbinical CollegeNew York$6,829
23Brigham Young University IdahoIdaho$6,871
24Carolina Christian CollegeNorth Carolina$6,944
25Beth Hamedrash Shaarei Yosher InstituteNew York$7,067

What Makes One College Cheaper Than Others?

Notice that more affordable colleges typically are public schools. That’s because these institutions receive more funding from state and city governments, which lessens the financial burden on students. 💰 

However, a few private colleges have made low-cost education a part of their mission, allocating more funding for grants and scholarships. Because of this, the advertised sticker price is significantly reduced, making it more affordable for college students. 

For example, Berea College, a private college in Berea, Kentucky, offers tuition-free education to qualified students through work-study opportunities and generous financial aid packages. 🆓

READ MORE: Public vs. Private College: Which One Is Right for You? 

Are Online Colleges a Cheaper Option?

Online colleges are more affordable than traditional brick-and-mortar universities since there’s no need to pay for physical facilities and support staff. Plus, you can eliminate expenses like living on campus and transportation costs. 🚗

But online learning can be a challenge. You need the necessary technology, like stable internet connection and a high-performing computer, while maintaining the discipline to study without supervision.

Female college student opting for online learning at home in one of the cheapest colleges using laptop
Online colleges offer additional flexibility, making it easier for students to balance their studies with other responsibilities. Photo: ijeab/Depositphotos

On the other hand, traditional face-to-face colleges may be pricier, but they provide a range of facilities, such as libraries, computer labs, writing centers, and tutoring services. 💻 

Interacting with professors, peers, and campus staff in person also allows for stronger relationship-building and networking opportunities. The personal connections you establish during your college years can open doors for future collaborations and friendships. 🤝

How to Make a Decision on College Costs

Imagine getting accepted into your dream college, only to find out that another option offers a more attractive financial package. What should you do? 💡

1️⃣ Carefully reviewing your offer letter and understanding the financial aid you’re being offered. Seek guidance from trusted individuals, like your parents or your high school guidance counselor, to ensure you grasp the full value of the aid package.  

2️⃣ Calculate the additional costs (accommodation, meals, textbooks, and transportation) associated with each college. These seemingly small expenses can accumulate over the course of your degree. ➕

Female and male college student discussing about college costs in the library
It’s important to determine how you plan to pay for your education and manage your expenses effectively to avoid excessive debt and financial stress. Photo: GaudiLab/Depositphotos

3️⃣ Consider your willingness to apply for a student loan because it impacts the total cost of education. High loan amounts or interest rates can result in substantial monthly payments that need to be managed years or decades after graduation. 😮‍💨

Good to know: Seek sound financial advice before applying for a loan, and develop good spending habits to make repayments an easier job for your future self.

Tips for Saving Money During College

While getting a college degree is undoubtedly a hefty expense for any student, there are some steps you can take to make your education more affordable.

Cash in Your Student Discounts

Lots of restaurants and businesses offer discounts for students who can provide proof of their university enrollment. 

If you are shopping online, you can often take advantage of these deals by providing a university email address. In brick-and-mortar stores, you can present your student ID.  🪪

Look for Secondhand or Digital Textbooks

Textbooks are expensive but necessary for your education. Thankfully, you don’t need to pay full price for your copy; you may find an alum selling secondhand textbooks at a discounted price

Some online retailers charge less, and e-books are quickly becoming the norm. Even better, you can often check out textbooks from the library.  📚

Increase Your Credit Load

You can take a heavier course load so that you can graduate earlier. This may not reduce your tuition fees, but you will spend less on room and board and start earning sooner. 💸

Cracking the code of college finances seem like solving a mind-bending puzzle, but your quest for higher education doesn’t have to turn you into a financial contortionist. 🤯

Your degree doesn’t need to drain you (and your pocket) completely; find the best methods to get that degree without breaking the bank! 🧑‍🎓  

These Are the Cheapest Colleges in the US: Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the cheapest college in the US?

Are there any free colleges in the USA for international students?

Which US colleges have no tuition fees?

What is the least expensive four-year college in the US?

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