(Skip to the end to see the list of 248 colleges that take a 3.0 GPA or less.) You can go to a four-year college with less than a 3.0 GPA. There are a number of colleges that are open admissions meaning that they will admit anyone who meets their minimum standards. This can mean just having passed specific classes in high school or meet minimum scores on selected placement tests. There are also colleges that admit students with less than a 3.0 GPA as part of their regular admissions process.
Table of Contents
- Open Admissions
- Colleges that accept less than a 3.0 GPA
- Should students with less than a 3.0 GPA start at a 4-year college?
- 248 colleges for students with less than a 3.0 GPA
Click HERE to download list of Colleges that Accept less than a 3.0 GPA
According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), there are at least 74 4-year colleges with open admissions. They’re in 32 states with New York having the most with 7. Ohio and Oklahoma tie for second with 6 each. Fifteen states have only one school and 19 don’t have any. Forty of the colleges are public and 34 are private. Only Bob Jones University had a 4-year graduation rate over 50%. None of the public institutions had 5-year graduation rates over 50%.
Colleges that accept less than a 3.0 GPA
Students with below a 3.0 GPA are also admitted to colleges without open admissions. There are at least 248 schools where 15% or more of freshman had GPAs less than 3.0. This information comes from the Common Data Set (CDS). Approximately 693 out of over 1,500 4-year colleges publicly post their CDS information which means the number can be significantly higher.
In some states such as Texas, students can be admitted to state public institutions without consideration of GPA. The University of Texas at El Paso has an admission’s grid based on class rank and college test scores that doesn’t include GPA. Texas A&M-Kingsville automatically admits students based on test scores or those who have completed a specific high school curriculum with a minimum of a 2.7 GPA.
Where are colleges that accept less than a 3.0 GPA?
The first thing to keep in mind is that just because the schools reported students with GPAs below 3.0 doesn’t mean that the schools didn’t use other requirements for admissions such as test scores. You would have to check with the individual schools to find out the exact requirements.
Of the schools that reported at least 15% of students with less than a 3.0 GPA, Pennsylvania had the most with 21 colleges. New York ranked second with 17, followed by Massachusetts (16), Michigan (15), and California (14). Only three states didn’t have any schools based on the publicly available CDS data and seven states (including the District of Columbia) had only one college.
What kind of colleges accept students with less than a 3.0 GPA?
The acceptance rates range from a low of 33% to five schools that accepted 100% of students. A total of 87 accepted 90% or more of applicants. Only five schools had acceptance rates less than 50%.
A total of 78 of the schools are private and 170 are public. All of the private schools have 5,000 or fewer full-time undergraduates. However, among public institutions, there were 51 between 5,001 and 10,000 and 33 over 10,000.
The average 4-year graduation rate for private colleges that accept students with less than a 3.0 GPA was 47.1% which is lower than the national average of 56.8% reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. The same is true of public schools in the group which had a four-year average of only 29.3% compared to the national average of 46.6%. However, keep in mind that these are averages. Among private colleges, the 4-year graduation rate ranged from 5% to 80% with 37 schools having averages above 50%. In the case of public institutions, the 5-year graduation rate spanned from 15% to 72% with 53 schools reporting rates of 50% or higher.
How much do colleges that take a 3.0 GPA or less cost?
The average Total Cost of Attendance (Tuition, Fees, and Room & Board) for private schools was $51,453. The lowest Total Cost was $20,300 and the highest was $78,650. At public institutions, the average in-state Total Cost was $25,435 while the out-of-state sticker price was $35,425. The in-state Total Cost ranged from $16,995 to $36,536 while out-of-state was $19,806 to $55,993.
Of course, with financial aid most students don’t end up paying the actual sticker price. You can get an idea of how generous schools are with financial aid by comparing the average net price. This is the average price undergraduates paid after deducting all gift aid which doesn’t include loans and work study. The average net price for private colleges was $23,622 while the average for those students paying in-state tuition at public universities was $13,754.
The significant drop in costs for private colleges is one reason why counselors advise students to go ahead and apply to schools even if they think they can’t afford it. At private colleges that accept students with below a 3.0 GPA, on average over 94% of freshman received some amount of gift aid from the institution. The average amount was $21,150. At public institutions, just 66% of freshman received institutional aid for an average amount of $4,615. Of course, will the lower prices to begin with, students at public colleges are less likely to need financial aid.
Should students with less than a 3.0 GPA start at a 4-year college?
The question is should you start at a four-year institution if you have less than a 3.0 GPA. It’s basically a question of if the GPA reflects your actual work ethic and academic accomplishments in high school. If the low GPA is explained by an unusual, one-time disruption to your GPA, you may be more than ready to handle college work.
However, if the low GPA is a reflection of poor work and study habits, why do you think you’ll do any better once you start college? There may be reason to think so. High school is not college. Some students find that they thrive in college whereas they found the high school environment too restrictive.
Reduced opportunities for financial aid
The main problem is that even If college is different, because of poor high school grades you’re likely to end up paying the total cost of attendance. Here’s why. The only “automatic” need-based financial aid that is gift based, meaning you don’t have to pay back, are government Pell Grants and possibly some state grants depending on where you live. Need-based financial aid is based on your demonstrated need. Pell grants are awarded based on student need without any other considerations.
The fact is that the largest source of need-based, as well as merit-based, financial aid for individual students will come from the school itself. If you have less than a 3.0 GPA, you aren’t likely to qualify for any merit aid unless you excel in some non-academic arena where the school awards scholarships. However, it’s very likely the only financial aid you’ll qualify for with less than a 3.0 GPA is need-based. Unfortunately, there are only somewhere around 80 schools out of over 1,500 four-year institutions that are committed to meet full financial need. The students at the remaining schools can expect to be “gapped” as far as financial aid is concerned.
The question then is how do colleges decide to distribute their limited financial aid funds? Many schools will use preferential packaging in allocating financial aid. Basically, this means that the school will offer more desirable students financial aid that consists mostly of gift aid. Those that are the last to be admitted, such as those with low GPAs, will find that their financial aid consists mainly of loan options. Muhlenberg College explains this approach in The Real Deal on Financial Aid.
Therefore, while most students do not pay the actual “sticker price” for college, those with a GPA below 3.0 are likely to since they won’t qualify for merit aid and they may not be in the priority group to receive limited need-based aid. Furthermore, generous merit aid is usually awarded through admissions. This means the opportunities for merit aid are for freshman or transfer students, not sophomores who have gotten their act together and would now qualify for merit awards.
Benefits of starting at a community college
Consequently, despite the drawbacks in attending a community college, you may be better off testing your abilities at a community college given the higher costs of attending a four-year institution. Most community colleges cost less than state universities, have smaller classes, and will probably provide more support services. An increasing number also provide dorms and honors programs.
Furthermore, considering the low graduation rates of some four-year institutions, community colleges with articulation agreements with four-year schools may be a preferable approach to a four-year degree. Some states such as Virginia and California have guarantee admission agreements between their community college system and four-year institutions, including the more prestigious state universities.
If nothing else, establishing a new GPA at a community college would also expand the number of four-year colleges that would accept you.
248 Colleges that take a 3.0 GPA or less
The following is a list of 4-year colleges with at least 500 full-time undergraduates where 15% or more of freshman had less than a 3.0 GPA according to the Common Data Set.
Colleges that take a 3.0 GPA or less
Click HERE to download PDF with Graduation Rates and Testing Requirements
|Name||Type||State||Full-time Under-grads||% Fresh-man GPA with less than 3.0 GPA||Avg High School GPA of Fresh-man||% Freshman who submitted GPA||% Admitted|
|Jacksonville State University||Pub||AL||6,273||19||3.4||87.0||76|
|University of Alaska Fairbanks||Pub||AK||2,345||22||3.4||68.3||65|
|University of Arizona||Pub||AZ||29,498||18||3.5||99.5||87|
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Pub||AR||3,047||20||3.4||98.1||58|
|University of the Ozarks||Pri||AR||776||23||3.4||99.0||55|
|California State Polytechnic University-Humboldt||Pub||CA||4,643||18||3.3||100.0||91|
|California State University-Bakersfield||Pub||CA||7,387||22||3.5||99.5||85|
|California State University-Chico||Pub||CA||12,908||19||3.4||100.0||85|
|California State University-Dominguez Hills||Pub||CA||11,647||30||3.2||100.0||90|
|California State University-Los Angeles||Pub||CA||19,558||22||3.3||99.8||91|
|California State University-Monterey Bay||Pub||CA||5,848||15||3.5||98.0||93|
|California State University-Sacramento||Pub||CA||23,473||18||3.4||98.4||94|
|California State University-San Bernardino||Pub||CA||13,649||19||3.4||99.9||91|
|California State University-San Marcos||Pub||CA||12,123||23||3.3||99.9||93|
|California State University-Stanislaus||Pub||CA||7,355||18||3.4||99.0||95|
|Otis College of Art and Design||Pri||CA||1,159||23||3.3||4.0||80|
|San Francisco State University||Pub||CA||18,629||24||3.3||99.7||93|
|Vanguard University of Southern California||Pri||CA||1,777||20||3.3||99.6||69|
|William Jessup University||Pri||CA||964||22||3.4||94.0||78|
|Adams State University||Pub||CO||1,173||38||3.2||96.0||100|
|Colorado Mesa University||Pub||CO||6,614||31||3.3||97.4||80|
|Colorado State University Pueblo||Pub||CO||2,589||28||3.3||98.0||99|
|Fort Lewis College||Pub||CO||2,914||28||3.3||99.2||93|
|Metropolitan State University of Denver||Pub||CO||9,851||45||3.0||96.2||89|
|University of Colorado Colorado Springs||Pub||CO||7,461||26||3.4||94.7||95|
|Western Colorado University||Pub||CO||1,645||20||3.4||99.8||91|
|Albertus Magnus College||Pri||CT||918||46||3.0||98.0||82|
|Central Connecticut State University||Pub||CT||6,071||32||3.2||99.5||75|
|Eastern Connecticut State University||Pub||CT||3,476||16||3.4||99.5||73|
|Southern Connecticut State University||Pub||CT||5,644||38||3.2||99.0||83|
|Western Connecticut State University||Pub||CT||3,440||39||3.4||96.0||85|
|Delaware State University||Pub||DE||3,766||38||3.2||100.0||59|
|Columbus State University||Pub||GA||4,274||44||3.1||97.0||79|
|Fort Valley State University||Pub||GA||2,236||55||2.9||99.0||72|
|Georgia Southern University||Pub||GA||19,307||21||3.4||99.0||91|
|Kennesaw State University||Pub||GA||28,629||20||3.4||98.6||82|
|University of West Georgia||Pub||GA||6,781||24||3.3||96.0||70|
|Valdosta State University||Pub||GA||6,605||33||3.2||98.4||76|
|Idaho State University||Pub||ID||5,505||21||3.4||98.0|
|Lewis-Clark State College||Pub||ID||2,064||31||3.2||99.2||100|
|University of Idaho||Pub||ID||6,372||16||3.5||98.1||81|
|Eastern Illinois University||Pub||IL||3,984||25||3.4||99.5||72|
|Governors State University||Pub||IL||1,659||38||4.0||100.0||52|
|Illinois State University||Pub||IL||16,444||16||3.5||99.6||92|
|Northeastern Illinois University||Pub||IL||2,657||46||3.1||97.6||62|
|Southern Illinois University-Carbondale||Pub||IL||6,754||33||3.2||98.9||95|
|Western Illinois University||Pub||IL||4,574||24||3.5||98.9||72|
|Indiana State University||Pub||IN||6,280||32||3.3||99.5||94|
|Indiana University-South Bend||Pub||IN||2,869||34||3.2||94.7||89|
|Purdue University Fort Wayne||Pub||IN||4,752||24||3.4||99.5||83|
|University of Southern Indiana||Pub||IN||5,242||17||3.5||99.0||96|
|Saint Ambrose University||Pri||IA||2,121||23||3.4||98.0||72|
|Emporia State University||Pub||KS||2,676||21||3.4||96.8||88|
|Kansas Wesleyan University||Pri||KS||718||26||3.3||100.0||68|
|Wichita State University||Pub||KS||8,529||17||3.5||100.0||91|
|Eastern Kentucky University||Pub||KY||9,250||22||3.4||98.9||98|
|Kentucky State University||Pub||KY||1,339||68||2.7||100.0||65|
|Northern Kentucky University||Pub||KY||7,598||19||3.4||97.6||80|
|University of Pikeville||Pri||KY||975||22||3.4||100.0|
|Western Kentucky University||Pub||KY||11,359||15||3.5||99.9||98|
|Grambling State University||Pub||LA||3,836||48||3.0||99.0||72|
|Nicholls State University||Pub||LA||4,582||23||3.3||99.0||97|
|Northwestern State University of Louisiana||Pub||LA||5,694||27||3.3||98.0||96|
|Southeastern Louisiana University||Pub||LA||8,324||20||3.4||98.8||99|
|University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Pub||LA||10,874||19||3.4||100.0||78|
|University of Maine||Pub||ME||8,162||15||3.4||99.0||96|
|University of Maine at Presque Isle||Pub||ME||774||33||3.0||89.0||100|
|University of Southern Maine||Pub||ME||3,567||20||3.3||98.3||87|
|Bowie State University||Pub||MD||4,344||42||3.1||97.0||87|
|Mount St. Mary’s University||Pri||MD||1,911||24||3.4||98.9||82|
|American International College||Pri||MA||1,199||30||2.9||100.0||58|
|Anna Maria College||Pri||MA||921||49||2.9||99.0||73|
|Bridgewater State University||Pub||MA||6,520||36||3.2||99.3||86|
|Fitchburg State University||Pub||MA||2,506||32||3.3||100.0||85|
|Salem State University||Pub||MA||4,234||38||3.2||98.9||90|
|University of Massachusetts-Boston||Pub||MA||9,994||22||3.4||100.0||79|
|University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth||Pub||MA||4,905||22||3.4||99.8||92|
|Wentworth Institute of Technology||Pri||MA||3,658||21||3.4||100.0||90|
|Western New England University||Pri||MA||2,522||19||3.5||100.0||90|
|Westfield State University||Pub||MA||3,486||38||3.2||99.8||94|
|Wheaton College (Massachusetts)||Pri||MA||1,700||17||3.5||99.8||82|
|Worcester State University||Pub||MA||3,575||31||3.3||99.9||89|
|Central Michigan University||Pub||MI||9,807||17||3.5||99.0||77|
|Eastern Michigan University||Pub||MI||9,038||24||3.4||95.6||85|
|Ferris State University||Pub||MI||6,566||28||3.3||99.6||85|
|Lake Superior State University||Pub||MI||1,406||35||3.2||99.3||73|
|Lawrence Technological University||Pri||MI||1,702||22||3.4||97.7||81|
|Northern Michigan University||Pub||MI||5,785||27||3.3||99.3||71|
|Saginaw Valley State University||Pub||MI||5,713||19||3.5||96.0||78|
|University of Michigan-Flint||Pub||MI||3,032||16||3.5||100.0||74|
|Wayne State University||Pub||MI||12,900||21||3.4||92.7||63|
|Western Michigan University||Pub||MI||12,149||19||3.5||99.3||83|
|Minnesota State University-Mankato||Pub||MN||10,035||18||3.4||98.0||69|
|Saint Cloud State University||Pub||MN||4,991||34||3.2||94.8||94|
|Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota||Pri||MN||978||17||3.5||97.9||98|
|Winona State University||Pub||MN||4,920||17||3.4||99.1||77|
|Jackson State University||Pub||MS||4,046||49||2.9||100.0||62|
|Missouri Southern State University||Pub||MO||2,755||24||3.4||95.3||97|
|Missouri Western State University||Pub||MO||2,579||32||3.3||96.2|
|Southeast Missouri State University||Pub||MO||6,548||15||3.5||99.0||79|
|University of Missouri-Kansas City||Pub||MO||5,786||17||3.5||96.6||76|
|Montana State University||Pub||MT||12,317||17||3.5||99.5||73|
|Montana State University Billings||Pub||MT||1,954||26||3.3||89.8|
|Rocky Mountain College||Pri||MT||791||23||3.4||100.0||81|
|University of Nebraska at Kearney||Pub||NE||3,781||20||3.2||99.0||90|
|University of Nebraska at Omaha||Pub||NE||9,969||25||3.4||93.0||87|
|University of Nevada-Las Vegas||Pub||NV||19,496||17||3.4||95.6||83|
|Keene State College||Pub||NH||2,877||37||3.1||95.0||88|
|Plymouth State University||Pub||NH||3,368||58||2.9||88.8||92|
|Saint Anselm College||Pri||NH||1,940||19||3.4||100.0||78|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus||Pri||NJ||1,890||28||3.3||80.3||85|
|Montclair State University||Pub||NJ||14,361||21||3.3||81.9||91|
|Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus||Pub||NM||1,985||32||3.2||97.3||33|
|New Mexico Highlands University||Pub||NM||975||33||3.3||90.0|
|University of New Mexico-Main Campus||Pub||NM||11,480||18||3.4||94.0||97|
|CUNY City College||Pub||NY||9,761||36||3.2||99.0||64|
|CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice||Pub||NY||10,452||43||3.2||92.0||45|
|Farmingdale State College||Pub||NY||7,321||29||3.3||99.1||73|
|Hobart William Smith Colleges||Pri||NY||1,640||16||3.6||97.8||67|
|SUNY at Albany||Pub||NY||11,792||21||90.4||89.9||68|
|SUNY Buffalo State||Pub||NY||5,384||63||2.8||98.2||85|
|SUNY College at Potsdam||Pub||NY||2,251||23||89.5||99.0||81|
|SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill||Pub||NY||1,682||41||3.1||98.0||81|
|SUNY College of Technology at Canton||Pub||NY||2,353||49||3.0||97.0||95|
|East Carolina University||Pub||NC||18,245||27||3.3||99.3||94|
|Johnson C Smith University||Pri||NC||1,063||77||2.5||74.0||45|
|North Carolina Central University||Pub||NC||4,770||31||3.3||9.0||76|
|University of North Carolina at Pembroke||Pub||NC||4,728||24||3.4||99.0||92|
|Western Carolina University||Pub||NC||8,233||16||3.4||99.8||79|
|Minot State University||Pub||ND||1,840||19||3.4||93.0||88|
|Cleveland State University||Pub||OH||8,241||29||3.4||97.8||91|
|University of Akron Main Campus||Pub||OH||9,411||25||3.5||99.3||85|
|University of Toledo||Pub||OH||10,738||17||3.6||99.8||97|
|East Central University||Pub||OK||2,166||19||3.3||93.7||65|
|Rogers State University||Pub||OK||1,912||26||3.4||94.0|
|Southeastern Oklahoma State University||Pub||OK||2,076||17||3.5||96.7||74|
|Southern Oregon University||Pub||OR||2,589||21||3.3||98.3||90|
|Western Oregon University||Pub||OR||3,049||23||3.3||99.3||92|
|California University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||3,566||28||3.3||99.2||97|
|Clarion University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||2,451||17||3.5||98.5||99|
|Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus||Pub||PA||6,437||26||3.4||99.0||94|
|Kutztown University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||6,047||30||3.3||99.0||97|
|Lock Haven University||Pub||PA||2,150||16||3.5||73.1||95|
|Mansfield University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||1,384||21||3.4||100.0||94|
|Point Park University||Pri||PA||2,339||20||3.5||100.0||82|
|Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||4,319||33||3.2||98.5||93|
|Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||6,423||15||3.5||97.9||79|
|University of Pittsburgh-Bradford||Pub||PA||1,092||29||3.3||98.1||73|
|University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg||Pub||PA||1,259||15||3.5||98.5||91|
|University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown||Pub||PA||2,066||15||3.6||94.8||92|
|West Chester University of Pennsylvania||Pub||PA||12,686||16||3.4||100.0||89|
|Dakota State University||Pub||SD||1,424||26||3.3||98.0||86|
|Mount Marty University||Pri||SD||578||27||3.4||93.0||67|
|University of South Dakota||Pub||SD||4,502||18||3.4||94.9||87|
|Austin Peay State University||Pub||TN||5,531||24||3.3||98.0||93|
|Tennessee State University||Pub||TN||4,907||35||3.2||85.0|
|Tennessee Wesleyan University||Pri||TN||895||18||3.5||95.3||60|
|University of Memphis||Pub||TN||11,142||21||3.5||99.0||95|
|Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi||Pub||TX||5,954||17||3.4||84.9||91|
|Texas A & M University-Kingsville||Pub||TX||4,002||19||3.5||98.9||93|
|Texas Woman’s University||Pub||TX||6,561||31||3.2||94.0||96|
|University of Houston-Clear Lake||Pub||TX||3,363||20||3.4||97.3||91|
|University of Houston-Downtown||Pub||TX||6,584||28||3.3||98.9||95|
|Utah State University||Pub||UT||16,476||28||3.6||91.4||93|
|Utah Valley University||Pub||UT||18,555||20||3.5||91.1|
|Weber State University||Pub||UT||11,599||24||3.4||94.0|
|Saint Michael’s College||Pri||VT||1,395||31||3.3||95.6||86|
|Old Dominion University||Pub||VA||13,905||31||3.3||100.0||96|
|University of Lynchburg||Pri||VA||1,582||21||3.5||100.0||97|
|Central Washington University||Pub||WA||8,373||42||3.1||94.7||88|
|Eastern Washington University||Pub||WA||7,203||28||3.3||100.0||97|
|Saint Martin’s University||Pri||WA||1,249||16||3.4||99.0||72|
|The Evergreen State College||Pub||WA||1,625||39||3.1||88.5||99|
|Fairmont State University||Pub||WV||2,478||27||3.3||98.0||99|
|University of Wisconsin-Green Bay||Pub||WI||4,952||22||3.4||98.4||91|
|University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh||Pub||WI||7,236||29||3.2||100.0||90|
|University of Wisconsin-Parkside||Pub||WI||2,563||33||3.2||98.1||75|
|University of Wisconsin-River Falls||Pub||WI||4,313||17||3.5||99.6||86|
|University of Wisconsin-Whitewater||Pub||WI||8,434||25||3.3||99.5||83|