It’s no secret that the cost of higher education has increased dramatically over the last few years and decades.
Even taking inflation into account, the average cost of college tuition more than quadrupled between 1985 and 2019.
So, anyone about to go to college (or a parent of someone going to college) is probably looking for ways to save money. Thankfully, it is possible to find cheaper colleges. Regardless of what you want to study, we have great benefits for you.
We’ve categorized what you need to look for, then made a short list of the cheapest colleges we found.
average cost of college
Most people assume that the cost of attending college has risen over time, but unless you look closely, you may not realize just how expensive it is today.
Below are the trends in tuition, dormitory, and food costs at four-year public universities over the past 30 years, compiled by The College Board.
- 1992-93 academic year — $12,190
- 2002-03 — $15,770
- 2012-13 — $22,790
- 2022-23 — $23,520
As you can see, tuition, room and board costs have nearly doubled in the last 30 years. Looking at tuition and fees alone, four-year colleges see an almost 2.5-fold increase (from $4,870 to $10,940).
What is included in the cost of college?
Many reports only look at tuition fees for various colleges. But tuition is only part of the equation. Various other costs must also be taken into account for an accurate calculation. This includes room, food, living expenses such as food and transportation, essential expenses, books, etc.
Regardless of the cost, going to college is worth the investment. Indeed, both those with a bachelor’s degree and those who graduate with a higher degree will, on average, earn more over their lifetime than those who only have a high school diploma. Still, much of it depends on what field you’re looking to enter and your own specific personal and financial circumstances.
Another consideration is that even though college graduates may have the potential to make more money in their lifetimes, it comes at a cost, and money spent today is more likely to be earned in the next 30 or 40 years. It’s worth more than some money. The best way to determine if a college is right for you is to calculate the expected ROI for your own college.
how to find cheap college
Finding cheap college is not as easy as you might think. Many public schools offer lower tuition for state residents because state taxpayers help fund colleges. Other schools may offer different tuition fees for specific tiers.
As an example, Brigham Young Universityis a private college run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and tuition is cheaper for church members because their donations help pay for college costs in a similar way.
Second, many community colleges offer free tuition to in-state students.
Also, just because a school costs more, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your out-of-pocket costs will be higher. Many high-cost schools offer significant financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, access to student loans, and more. Working with the financial aid office of the school you are considering can give you a better idea of what college really costs to you.
Similar to our list of the most expensive colleges, here is a list of the cheapest colleges in the US. The following universities were ranked by US News and World Report based on her 2022-23 annual tuition for out-of-state students.
- Mississippi Valley State University: $7,334
- University of North Carolina Pembroke: $7,496
- University of Mississippi Women’s College: $7,866
- Oklahoma Panhandle State University: $7,961
- Elizabeth City State University: $8,047
Finding (and attending) one of these schools can help you avoid massive student loan debt and achieve a higher ROI on your college investment.
Earning a college degree can lead to an expected lifetime income increase, but it’s not free. There are many ways to keep college costs down, but one of the most important is choosing a school with low tuition. When considering a school, in addition to checking the tuition fees posted for that school, contact the Financial Aid Office to confirm the total cost of your tuition. This helps you make informed decisions.