Financial Aid

Top 10 States with the Cheapest College Tuition

Travel the country to find the most affordable colleges.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 26, 2022

Top 10 States with the Cheapest College Tuition
Find the cheapest colleges in the country.
As consumers, we’re always working to find the best deal, and college should be no different. When it comes to choosing the right college, the majority of us want the most bang for our buck.

Top 10 States with the Cheapest College Tuition

Fortunately, resources like Forbes work to help families find the most affordable colleges. Even if you plan to study across the country, there are affordable out of state colleges that you could attend. You just have to know where to look.

Which States Have the Cheapest College Tuition?

Forbes has found the states with the cheapest college tuition, the most affordable colleges within each state, and the most affordable out-of-state colleges. If you’re looking to get a college education without the student loan debt, consider colleges from these options:
  1. Wyoming*
  2. Florida
  3. Montana
  4. Utah
  5. North Carolina
  6. Idaho
  7. New Mexico*
  8. South Dakota*
  9. North Dakota*
  10. Nevada*
*These states also have the most affordable out of state colleges.

Wyoming’s Most Affordable College

Wyoming tops the list for three reasons: • They have the cheapest college tuition at a flagship university in the U.S. • Their public, four-year college costs average the lowest in the country as well. • College tuition for out-of-state students is the lowest. The University of Wyoming, where prospective students can cash in the cheapest college tuition, is located in Laramie, Wyoming. Naturally, this Wyoming university has extensive agriculture and animal science majors and programs, but it also offers typical college majors, like art history, biology, and accounting. Find University of Wyoming scholarships on Fastweb.

Florida’s Most Affordable College

Florida colleges and universities also average lower college tuition for in-state residents only. Their most affordable college is the University of Florida, located in Gainesville, Florida. The university boasts 100 undergraduate majors, 200 graduate degree programs, and 30 certificates. Find University of Florida scholarships on Fastweb.

Montana’s Most Affordable College

Like Wyoming and Florida, Montana colleges and universities average some of the lowest in-state college costs in the country. Their flagship school, University of Montana is located in Missoula, Montana. In addition to offering undergraduate degrees, they also have graduate degrees as well as online programs. Find University of Montana scholarships on Fastweb.

Utah’s Most Affordable College

While Utah doesn’t have any colleges in the top five with the lowest college tuition, it does make the list as a state. That’s because the costs of its public, four-year colleges, when averaged together, are lower than most states. The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City, is its cheapest college, and tuition comes in at $9,002 for in-state residents. Find Utah colleges and scholarships on Fastweb.

North Carolina’s Most Affordable College

North Carolina rounds out the top five states with the cheapest college tuition on average. Its flagship university is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which boasts academic standards that rival Ivy League schools. However, tuition is just $7,020 for in-state residents. Find University of North Carolina scholarships on Fastweb.

Idaho’s Most Affordable College

Idaho earns a spot on this list because the University of Idaho is one of the most affordable colleges in the country for in-state residents. Located in Moscow, Idaho, it is home to more than 10,000 students who can choose an area of study from 93 undergraduate majors and 58 graduate degree programs. It consistently ranks as one of the best value colleges for money as well as for being one of the top schools in the country for students that love the outdoors. Find University of Idaho scholarships on Fastweb.

New Mexico’s Most Affordable College

New Mexico’s flagship university, the University of New Mexico, is one of the cheapest colleges for in-state tuition as well as out-of-state. For in-state residents, the tuition and fees for one year are $10,860, whereas the cost for out-of-state students is $27,166. However, incoming freshmen who live out of state and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher as well as an ACT score of at least 20 and an SAT score of at least 1030 may qualify for in-state tuition rates with a scholarship. Find University of New Mexico scholarships on Fastweb.

South Dakota’s Most Affordable College

The University of South Dakota ranks as one of the most affordable out-of-state colleges. For students that do not live in South Dakota, tuition costs are just $11,283 per year. Located in Vermillion, South Dakota, the university has existed before South Dakota was even a state. Undergraduate students can choose from over 200 majors and more than 80 graduate programs. For a public, four-year university, it has an outstanding student to faculty ratio of 15:1. Find University of South Dakota scholarships on Fastweb.

North Dakota’s Most Affordable College

North Dakota, much like South Dakota, has some of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students in the country. The University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, costs just $16,212 for students outside of the state. It also has a reciprocity agreement with Minnesota, meaning students from that state would pay in-state tuition for any public college in North Dakota. Finally, room and board at the University of North Dakota is, on average, $3,000 less than the national average. Find University of North Dakota scholarships on Fastweb.

Nevada’s Most Affordable College

Rounding out the top 10 states with the cheapest college tuition is Nevada, thanks to the University of Nevada. Located in Reno, Nevada, non-resident tuition is $24,222. However, they provide the WUE Tuition Scholarship to residents in WUE states (i.e., students who live in the following : Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, the territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). Tuition with the WUE Tuition Scholarship is $11,520 per year. Find University of Nevada scholarships on Fastweb.

How to Make College More Affordable

Remaining a student at an in-state college or searching for colleges with affordable out-of-state tuition is a great strategy for keeping college costs low. You can also look into state reciprocity programs, like the one that North Dakota and Minnesota share, as well. A quick web search will allow you to see if your state has an agreement with another. This will open up your college choice possibilities beyond your own geographic location. Additionally, you can explore other college tuition funding sources.

Scholarships and Grants

Students should spend a few hours each week searching for scholarships to pay for college. An easy way to do this is to complete a Fastweb profile. Using your information, like GPA, prospective majors, and extracurricular activities, we find scholarships that you would qualify for. This saves you so much time in the scholarship search. Rather than digging through the web to find scholarships you can apply to, we do the work for you. With our help, you can devote your time to actually applying for awards. Another place to find scholarship information is your school counselor. They will know about local awards as well as advice on how to make yourself more marketable for scholarship applications.

Financial Aid

There is only one way to qualify for financial aid: complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year that you will be enrolled in college. This form is utilized by federal and state governments, as well as your college, to determine an adequate financial aid package for you. Financial aid packages consist of grants, work study, and federal student loans. Grants do not have to be repaid after graduation, and work study enables you to work on your college campus to earn money to pay your tuition or cover student expenses. Subsidized federal loans may be a part of your financial aid package. These do not accrue interest while you are in college, but they are limited to students who may need more financial help. Anyone can qualify for an unsubsidized student loan. These do accrue interest while you’re enrolled in college.

Private Student Loans

Though colleges work very hard to meet financial need, they may not be able to provide a package that enables you to pay for all of your college costs. With that, you may need private student loans to bridge the gap between what the college costs and what you can afford. Typically, colleges will have a preferred lender list of providers that they work with in order to help students finance their education. Fastweb can also help you find the right private student loan to cover your remaining college costs.

College Savings

Some families may begin saving for college at the birth of their child. Others don’t consider saving until their child has decided to attend college. Either way, the best way to save is with a 529 College Savings Plan in the parent or guardian’s name. A 529 College Savings Plan is a state-sponsored investment plan that allows for tax-free withdrawals as long as they are used for education expenses. Remember, if you open a 529 college savings plan, it’s important to do so in the parent or guardian’s name. A 529 in a student’s name is counted as a student asset on the FAFSA, which is judged more harshly when determining financial need. It could hurt your student by eliminating help from their financial aid package.

Part-Time Jobs and Internships

A part-time job or income from an internship is also a way to pay for college or cover student expenses. Many employers in a college town will work with students to find a flexible part-time schedule around their classes, study time, and extracurriculars. Nowadays, many employers offering part-time opportunities also provide tuition reimbursement for employees. A job with one of these companies could result in a paycheck as well as money to pay tuition.

Education Tax Benefits

Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of education tax benefits in order to offset college costs. There are two different tax benefits that you should be aware of: The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit is available to students who are pursuing higher education of any kind. For instance, you do not need to be attending college for a Bachelor’s degree. Rather, you can be taking career development courses to qualify. Students can claim up to $2,000 in credit for qualified education expenses. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, formerly known as the Hope Scholarship Credit, is available to students seeking a degree, certification, or other recognized credential. It can be claimed for up to four years. Students will receive up to $2,500 in credit on qualified education expenses. Families cannot claim both tax credits for one individual in the same tax year. They can, however, be stacked for multiple students within the same household. Planning for college is a strategic initiative. If you want to minimize the amount of student loan debt you must take out in order to afford college, consider some of the country’s more affordable colleges. Not only are these prominent institutions, they’re also easy on the wallet.

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