right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
STUDENT GUEST OF THE WEEK: Ethan is a burgeoning tech enthusiast who got accepted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Brown. This week he's answering your questions on how to best craft your application and narrow down your college search/decision process. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
Concerned about how to pay for college amid COVID-19 economic changes? Join us for a webinar on Thu, Apr. 9 at 5pm ET. REGISTER NOW and let us know what questions you have and want answered.
Most of the decisions are in by now. Connect with fellow students and share support for those who didn't get the best news.

List of the 100 Least-Expensive Colleges?

springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
Does anyone know of a list/ranking of the 100 "least-expensive" schools? I would love a starting point of schools to consider or at least be aware of outside of the 100 most-recognized schools just to make sure I'm not missing any hidden gems? Thanks & apologies in advance if this is a Captain Obvious question.
18 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: List of the 100 Least-Expensive Colleges?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9239 replies93 threads Senior Member
    The cheapest will be your instate options. Do a google search for "the cheapest colleges in _______". Fill in the blank with your home state.
    · Reply · Share
  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3935 replies71 threads Senior Member
    edited February 26
    The military academies are ‘free’.

    Some schools have free tuition/COA for those from a certain geographic area, like Alice Lloyd and Berea.

    After that starting with 2 years in the local community college, and finishing up at an in-state 4 year public will be among the least costly options.

    If your EFC is zero, many of the meet full need colleges will be low cost....but they all have low acceptance rates.

    edited February 26
    · Reply · Share
  • springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the responses. I was hoping for a quick-reference list of some sort not broken-down by state. I'm kind of aware of the generosity of the top schools but I just wanted to make sure I'm not missing anything.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6211 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Can't really find what your looking for but this is based on tuition but with room and board still doesn't look like bargains. When looking at another example keep in mind that some of these schools have low graduation rates. Not just on this list but others


    https://www.collegecalc.org/lists/america/most-affordable-in-state-tuition/

    Depending on what your parameters are if it's low cost just do several searches with that in the title. If you know your looking for low cost engineering colleges as an example you will get better results.

    I just did a search of college under $20,000 and got a whole slew of options. So if you can define some parameters your results will be better.

    For us we used the UNWR but for engineering. Then started looking at the top 50 - 100 programs. We found many gems to learn about. We weren't looking at cost so much but just to give you an idea.

    So narrow your search and you will get much better results. Be curious to what you find.
    · Reply · Share
  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG 993 replies11 threads Senior Member
    This thread has lots of bargains, where CoA even for oos can be less than in state tuition for students with expensive in state schools.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/2155331-which-state-schools-do-not-charge-an-oos-rate-and-will-also-give-merit-p1.html
    · Reply · Share
  • springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
    This is REALLY helpful @Knowsstuff. Interesting ratings app as well. I'm going to dig into this with my parents today. Thanks v much. I'll keep you posted if I find any gems.
    · Reply · Share
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33611 replies4262 threads Super Moderator
    OP, generally the most affordable schools are in the great white north (the Dakotas, etc). However, you might be able to find some great bargains in-state.
    · Reply · Share
  • springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks so much @Erin's Dad . I don't love the in-state options. I didn't think about the Dakotas, though. I will check them out as well.
    · Reply · Share
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6187 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I think that this is a good question which will be of interest to many people, but that does not necessarily mean that there is a good answer.

    Which universities and colleges are the cheapest is going to depend upon a lot of factors that vary from student to student. For most of us our in-state public schools are a good place to look first. If you happen to be a national merit winner then some other schools will be affordable. If you are from a poor family, then schools that meet full need will be something to look at. If you are a straight A student, then schools with good merit scholarships will be worth looking at. These are not all the same schools for different students.

    For us, the least expensive school was the public in-state university that happens to be close enough to allow commuting, thereby saving on housing costs. One friend of a daughter who was in a tough financial situation started at community college for two years, got close to straight A's, then transferred to this particular local public university with a large merit scholarship -- she has done really well and will have a marketable major.

    For us the next least expensive choices were all in Canada. However, this is partly because we live very close to the northern border and partly because we have dual citizenship. The lesser known universities in Canada tend to be relatively inexpensive even for international students. Next least expensive after that for us were the rest of our in-state public colleges and universities.

    What is cheapest for you will depend upon a lot of factors. If you list your home state (or country if not the US), and your stats, then some people here can give you some ideas.

    Running the NPCs on schools that you are considering is also a good idea. If your parents are divorced, or own a small business, farm, or rental property then the NPCs might not be accurate and might be way too optimistic. Otherwise they seem to be pretty accurate. For us they were spot on (but not always encouraging).
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6211 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Keep in mind.. No alot of kids like their instate options. Sure going away is more glamorous. But if the goal is to graduate with as less debt as possible usually your instate is your best option but not in all cases.

    If you can share your state and possibly what you want to go into someone on here most likely has experience with that school.
    · Reply · Share
  • springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks @DadTwoGirls, I have a couple of Canadian schools on my long list. I agree, @Knowsstuff, I'm among those kids, lol. I've done extensive work on what my state has to offer in terms of schools. I just wanted to be as through as possible. The link you posted is sooo helpful. It's exactly what I wanted.
    · Reply · Share
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6187 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "I have a couple of Canadian schools on my long list"

    For Canadians the Canadian universities are relatively consistent in price. For international students, they vary quite a bit. Let us know if you want suggestions. There are a few people on CC who seem to have ties to both the US and Canada.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6211 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Well make sure you get the information also from the schools themselves. Also look at graduation rates. I understand that lots of kids graduate in 5 years due to internships or coops but I looked at some of those schools and the rates were very low. Never a good sign. Also this was just tuition. Once one school added that and other things in it was still $26,000 OOS to attend. The room and board and meal plans looked expensive to me. So..... When done figuring it all out it always comes down to the end number.. Not that they say the tuition is cheaper. They might be making up that loss somewhere else is my point. Also look at your field of interest and opportunities the school will afford you. That can be worth a lot and needs a direct comparison to your local colleges.
    · Reply · Share
  • happymomof1happymomof1 30214 replies182 threads Senior Member
    College Navigator can search by tuition and fees, but it doesn't account for room, board, etc. Be sure to click on "More search options" and include your state of residence. If you have no state of residence, scroll down and choose "other" in that list. https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

    Today, College Navigator finds 302 4-year public and private non-profit institutions with tuition and fees of $10K or less when "other" is chosen as the state of residence.
    · Reply · Share
  • bjscheelbjscheel 681 replies5 threads Member
    When I was hunting for low cost schools, I would pick a state (centered around the Midwest) and search "colleges in (state)". Wikipedia would always have a list of the colleges for each state, sometimes with info given like type of school and size. If one sounded promising, I would visit their website and figure out the COA after automatic merit (lots of them have auto merit charts in the Midwest). Directional publics often have the best deals for higher stat students as they look to attract more of them. And especially those in the middle of nowhere.

    Some of the best deals I found OOS in our Midwest radius were at Southeast Missouri, Missouri State, University of Nebraska- Kearney, and University of Central Arkansas (must live on campus to get in-state).

    As to your desire to go OOS, is it because familiarity breeds contempt, or the in-states truly do not have what you need? I had my eyes on a small public 90 miles away (OOS but still "local") and DD said she would go anywhere but THERE. But in the end it was the only school that met her super specific list and she is happily attending THERE. She just had the impression it wasn't good because it was common for kids from HS to go there. On the other hand, no school in our state had her major, so she did need to go OOS. She originally thought it might be cooler to go *further* OOS but now she enjoys being able to pop home if she wants!

    Good luck finding what works for you!
    · Reply · Share
  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I don't think it is possible to compile a list of the "100 Least-Expensive Colleges" that would apply to everyone equally well.

    There are several paths to get to "free" (or as close to that as possible) depending on your situation. The service academies are virtually free to anyone who qualifies for admission. "Full need" colleges may be free (or nearly so) if your family income/assets are low enough and if you qualify for admission (but most of them are very selective). If your qualifications are truly exceptional, you might qualify for a "full ride" merit scholarship at some colleges. If they are very good and your family income is in the upper middle class "donut hole", then good schools with relatively low net costs may be among your in-state public colleges. There are far more than 100 of those for the whole country but maybe only a few for your own state. So, the pricing is very complicated here in the USA.
    · Reply · Share
  • springfield18springfield18 76 replies9 threads Junior Member
    This is all extremely helpful. Thanks v much, everyone.
    · Reply · Share
  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    If you can find your way around IPEDS, this data, and a lot more, is available. Sorting by total cost yields a lot of specialized (Native American, Religious, etc.) schools, but you can filter as you’d like.

    The easiest way for me was to copy the Cost and Institution tables into Excel and then do a VLOOKUP. Et voila, a list of 2019 total cost of attendance for every school in the database.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity