Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges in 33 States - Do It Yourself College Rankings

Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges in 33 States

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pocket with money representing saving at colleges with low out-of-state tuition(The Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges List has been updated with information available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System in January 2021) Back when I was a freshman attending a rather large state university in Austin, Texas, I ran into quite a few students (relatively speaking) from the state of New York. They told me that they were attending college in Texas because our out-of-state tuition was cheaper than their in-state tuition. I only saw them that one year because the following year, the legislature raised out-of-state tuition and Texas was no longer as appealing to New Yorkers as it once was.

That sort of situation isn’t as common today as it once was but it still happens. Based strictly on an average of all the states’ public universities total cost of attendance (not weighted), students who are residents in five states (New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Virginia) could find it cheaper to attend public universities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Mississippi or Oklahoma. (I’m using the total cost of attendance because let’s face it, students need to spend money on living expenses as well.) Of course, that’s assuming the students don’t qualify for any need based aid at their state university. And any cost savings would probably be lost in travel costs and the like making the entire proposition a wash in the end.

Cheap isn’t What it Used to Be

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However, out-of-state tuition is a major concern of many foreign students who don’t qualify for in-state tuition in any state. The average total cost of attendance for out-of-state residents at public colleges is $36,199 for 2019-20, up from $35,534 in 2018. The number of public universities where the out-of-state cost is over $40,000 has increased from 162 to 183. Among those, 51 charge more than $50,000 and 13 of those, in California, Virginia, Vermont, and Michigan, are over $60,000.

Given that there are now 76 state colleges that have a total cost of attendance over $30,000 for in-state students, I’ve decided to increase my cut-off for the cheapest out-of-state colleges to $33,000. There are 166 public universities with out-of-state total costs below this level. A total of 47 have prices under $26,000 for non-residents.

States with the Most Public Colleges with the Cheapest Cost of Attendance

Texas and Wisconsin had the most colleges with a total cost of attendance of $33,000 or less with 11 schools each. Minnesota and Oklahoma followed with 10 each and Missouri and Georgia had 9 schools. A total of 17 states don’t have any schools that make the list of cheapest out-of-state colleges. Another 4 have only one school on the list.

Of schools with a total cost of attendance (out-of-state tuition and living expenses) less than $33,000, only 39 qualified as 50-50 schools. These are schools that accept at least 50% of students and have at least a 50% graduation rate. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have 9 each. Five states follow with only three each. A total of 85 of the colleges have at least a 40% four-year graduation rate.

Other Cheapest Out-of-state Colleges Characteristics

Size by Full-time Undergraduates

  • 13 have more than 10,000
  • 46 are in the Goldilocks‘ ranges of 5,000 to 10,000
  • 107 below 5,000

As in the case for most lists, the number of smaller colleges out-number the larger ones because there are just a lot more smaller colleges period. Of those under 5,000, 61 have 2,500 or fewer full-time undergraduates. The incredible number of small colleges overall represents the greatest diversity in academic, social, and financial opportunities.

Testing Requirements

  • 21 Don’t list any
  • 6 Considered but not required
  • 7 Recommended

Going into the COVID19 era, an increasing number of schools were going test optional. The state of California dropping the ACT/SAT from its public university admissions requirements was already making big waves. At this point, the NCAA, yes the NCAA, has waived the requirements for scholarship sports. So what will happen when classes resume in person without masks? Who knows? More than likely, students will have at the very least alternative test options at most schools.

Athletics

  • 20 NAIA
  • 11 NCAA FBS
  • 28 NCAA FCS
  • 6 NCAA D1
  • 78 NCAA D2
  • 17 NCAA D3

I know, all my diversity talk about small schools doesn’t really apply to Big Time College athletics. The fact that the NCAA Division 2 is the largest conference makes sense since we’re talking about schools with the lowest out-of-state costs. The fact is that schools can and do charge students for having popular sports teams. It’s basic supply and demand.

Application Fees

  • 26 $50 Plus
  • 64 $30-$45
  • 44 $15-$25
  • 32 $0

While the number of schools charging $50 or more for application fees has stayed the same among colleges with the cheapest out-of-state tuition, the costs of applying are creeping up for these schools. Membership in the second most expensive category has increase from 57 to 64. And the $10-$25 category now has a floor of $15.

How to Avoid Paying Out-of-State Tuition

There are other ways to lower the cost of attending a public university out-of-state. If students live in one of the four regional tuition discount programs, they may be eligible for lower tuition. These programs allow students from member states to pay lower tuition rates. However, there are often limitations such as participating colleges and allowed majors. Students who live along state lines should check for any local tuition exchange programs.

Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges
(Total Cost of Attendance of $33,000 or Less)

Name State Full-time Under-grads  Total price for in-state students
2019-20 
 Total price for out-of-state
students 2019-2020 
Alabama A & M University AL         4,957 $23,954 $32,564
Alabama State University AL         3,450 $22,110 $30,438
Auburn University at Montgomery AL         3,483 $20,650 $30,322
Jacksonville State University AL         5,967 $21,831 $31,551
Troy University AL         8,707 $21,778 $29,578
University of North Alabama AL         4,901 $22,750 $32,350
University of South Alabama AL         8,065 $22,412 $30,308
University of West Alabama AL         1,881 $23,205 $32,305
Arkansas State University-Main Campus AR         6,428 $24,388 $31,348
Arkansas Tech University AR         6,609 $19,606 $25,174
Henderson State University AR         2,710 $25,100 $26,810
Southern Arkansas University Main Campus AR         3,012 $23,750 $28,250
University of Arkansas at Monticello AR         1,792 $19,993 $25,843
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff AR         2,168 $21,264 $27,924
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith AR         3,987 $20,879 $28,151
University of Central Arkansas AR         7,673 $23,903 $30,713
Florida Polytechnic University FL         1,133 $21,611 $21,611
Albany State University GA         4,102 $19,634 $30,356
Clayton  State University GA         3,821 $21,290 $32,012
Dalton State College GA         3,028 $14,948 $21,854
Fort Valley State University GA         2,064 $20,644 $31,366
Georgia Southwestern State University GA         1,649 $19,928 $30,650
Middle Georgia State University GA         4,906 $16,339 $23,686
Savannah State University GA         2,960 $17,255 $27,716
University of North Georgia GA       13,135 $20,854 $29,886
Valdosta State University GA         6,786 $20,745 $31,800
Lewis-Clark State College ID         2,174 $18,512 $31,508
Eastern Illinois University IL         3,987 $24,653 $26,933
Governors State University IL         1,924 $23,251 $30,763
Northern Illinois University IL       10,554 $28,980 $28,980
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville IL         8,632 $25,921 $25,921
Western Illinois University IL         5,124 $26,548 $26,548
Indiana University-South Bend IN         3,459 $20,277 $32,728
Purdue University Northwest IN         5,555 $23,211 $29,894
Fort Hays State University KS         5,776 $18,736 $28,816
Pittsburg State University KS         4,663 $20,252 $31,596
Kentucky State University KY         1,157 $17,078 $20,928
Morehead State University KY         5,375 $22,832 $27,418
Louisiana State University-Alexandria LA         1,893 $19,171 $26,526
Louisiana Tech University LA         8,128 $22,341 $31,254
McNeese State University LA         5,397 $22,256 $30,294
Nicholls State University LA         4,961 $23,538 $24,631
Southern University and A & M College LA         4,869 $23,592 $30,942
Southern University at New Orleans LA         1,383 $21,739 $30,640
University of New Orleans LA         4,900 $23,816 $28,652
University of Maine at Augusta ME         1,396 $20,968 $31,138
University of Maine at Fort Kent ME            556 $20,245 $24,535
University of Maine at Presque Isle ME            621 $20,226 $24,516
Coppin State University MD         1,811 $23,805 $30,202
Fitchburg State University MA         3,154 $25,160 $31,240
Westfield State University MA         4,258 $26,044 $32,124
Worcester State University MA         4,052 $25,589 $31,669
Eastern Michigan University MI       10,559 $27,566 $27,566
Ferris State University MI         7,829 $23,651 $23,651
Grand Valley State University MI       18,790 $25,040 $30,476
Lake Superior State University MI         1,548 $25,535 $25,535
Northern Michigan University MI         6,208 $24,805 $30,301
Western Michigan University MI       14,493 $27,071 $30,095
Bemidji State University MN         3,053 $21,490 $21,490
Minnesota State University Moorhead MN         3,785 $23,000 $30,632
Minnesota State University-Mankato MN       10,367 $21,278 $29,570
Saint Cloud State University MN         6,921 $21,356 $29,648
Southwest Minnesota State University MN         1,659 $21,282 $21,282
University of Minnesota-Crookston MN         1,190 $24,242 $24,242
University of Minnesota-Duluth MN         8,567 $25,574 $30,774
University of Minnesota-Morris MN         1,364 $24,680 $26,734
University of Minnesota-Rochester MN            538 $26,504 $26,504
Winona State University MN         6,141 $22,304 $28,404
Alcorn State University MS         2,731 $24,266 $24,266
Delta State University MS         1,990 $20,879 $20,879
Jackson State University MS         4,122 $24,780 $25,780
Mississippi University for Women MS         2,023 $20,888 $20,888
Mississippi Valley State University MS         1,411 $20,315 $20,315
University of Southern Mississippi MS         9,623 $24,669 $26,669
Harris-Stowe State University MO         1,369 $21,674 $26,306
Lincoln University MO         1,603 $20,244 $27,232
Missouri Southern State University MO         3,833 $18,105 $24,908
Missouri State University-Springfield MO       14,059 $21,859 $30,169
Missouri Western State University MO         3,381 $21,015 $26,925
Northwest Missouri State University MO         4,968 $20,235 $26,017
Southeast Missouri State University MO         7,143 $22,406 $28,436
Truman State University MO         4,248 $21,932 $29,126
University of Central Missouri MO         6,678 $20,631 $27,377
Montana State University Billings MT         2,217 $19,543 $32,867
Montana State University-Northern MT            797 $17,025 $29,735
The University of Montana-Western MT         1,127 $17,699 $29,161
Chadron State College NE         1,442 $22,446 $22,476
Peru State College NE         1,103 $20,936 $20,936
University of Nebraska at Kearney NE         3,809 $23,652 $29,754
Wayne State College NE         2,644 $19,752 $25,212
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus NM         2,411 $19,198 $21,196
New Mexico Highlands University NM         1,190 $19,556 $23,828
Western New Mexico University NM         1,107 $22,762 $29,995
CUNY Hunter College NY       13,012 $24,158 $32,108
SUNY College of Technology at Canton NY         2,772 $25,284 $29,214
United States Merchant Marine Academy NY         1,007 $5,050 $5,050
Elizabeth City State University NC         1,523 $13,496 $17,496
Fayetteville State University NC         4,064 $17,521 $29,129
North Carolina A & T State University NC       10,045 $18,487 $31,997
University of North Carolina at Pembroke NC         5,082 $17,160 $21,160
Western Carolina University NC         8,899 $18,740 $22,740
Winston-Salem State University NC         4,051 $20,512 $30,759
Dickinson State University ND            925 $19,924 $23,184
Mayville State University ND            594 $19,164 $22,061
Minot State University ND         1,928 $19,386 $19,386
North Dakota State University-Main Campus ND         9,640 $23,032 $27,170
University of North Dakota ND         7,622 $23,604 $29,763
Valley City State University ND            899 $19,053 $23,466
Central State University OH         1,911 $19,906 $21,906
Cleveland State University OH         9,136 $27,977 $32,522
Shawnee State University OH         2,703 $21,139 $27,063
Wright State University-Lake Campus OH            873 $21,668 $31,086
Youngstown State University OH         8,750 $23,563 $23,923
Cameron University OK         2,557 $16,162 $25,582
East Central University OK         2,474 $18,534 $27,894
Langston University OK         1,864 $20,447 $27,866
Northeastern State University OK         4,339 $18,537 $26,937
Northwestern Oklahoma State University OK         1,378 $18,818 $25,936
Oklahoma Panhandle State University OK            956 $16,275 $17,019
Rogers State University OK         2,271 $22,594 $30,934
Southeastern Oklahoma State University OK         2,376 $17,708 $26,348
Southwestern Oklahoma State University OK         3,340 $21,801 $28,701
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma OK            728 $19,200 $30,060
California University of Pennsylvania PA         3,982 $27,218 $31,836
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania PA         2,991 $24,924 $29,352
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania PA         6,480 $28,414 $32,522
Lincoln University PA         1,897 $26,008 $32,210
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania PA         1,487 $25,500 $28,066
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania PA         6,994 $24,981 $29,089
Black Hills State University SD         1,953 $21,851 $24,997
Dakota State University SD         1,494 $22,574 $25,644
Northern State University SD         1,263 $23,075 $26,146
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology SD         1,872 $25,980 $30,290
South Dakota State University SD         7,953 $22,313 $25,788
University of South Dakota SD         4,934 $23,399 $26,874
The University of Tennessee-Martin TN         4,734 $21,714 $27,754
University of Memphis TN       11,991 $26,386 $30,226
Angelo State University TX         5,478 $21,247 $31,375
Midwestern State University TX         4,076 $21,911 $23,861
Stephen F Austin State University TX         9,195 $22,732 $32,860
Tarleton State University TX         8,172 $22,730 $32,500
Texas A & M International University TX         5,559 $18,994 $30,312
Texas Woman’s University TX         6,995 $21,032 $31,161
The University of Texas at San Antonio TX       22,337 $20,010 $32,011
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin TX         1,869 $21,142 $21,982
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley TX       19,972 $20,946 $31,074
University of Houston-Victoria TX         1,751 $19,846 $29,974
West Texas A & M University TX         5,590 $21,485 $22,891
Weber State University UT       11,826 $21,057 $31,040
Concord University WV         1,429 $22,191 $31,843
Fairmont State University WV         2,957 $20,468 $29,544
Glenville State College WV         1,008 $23,388 $24,898
Shepherd University WV         2,368 $22,409 $32,849
West Liberty University WV         1,834 $23,284 $31,224
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire WI         9,744 $20,822 $29,097
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay WI         4,938 $19,459 $27,677
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse WI         9,088 $17,684 $26,503
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh WI         8,560 $19,616 $27,189
University of Wisconsin-Parkside WI         3,125 $19,725 $27,995
University of Wisconsin-Platteville WI         6,507 $19,277 $27,397
University of Wisconsin-River Falls WI         5,029 $18,333 $25,906
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point WI         6,662 $19,282 $27,992
University of Wisconsin-Stout WI         5,993 $20,031 $27,998
University of Wisconsin-Superior WI         1,720 $19,810 $27,383
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater WI         9,591 $19,115 $27,836
University of Wyoming WY         8,336 $20,258 $32,828
Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges in 33 States

13 thoughts on “Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges in 33 States”

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. Although these may be inexpensive out of state school choices, the quality of these schools vary. As you indicated, it is likely that there is a close-by, high quality, small, liberal arts school whose “net tuition” (published tuition minus average scholarship given) is competitive or even lower than paying out-of-state tuition at a public university.

    For example, Missouri Southern in Joplin, MO is on the spreadsheet. About 110 miles away, in Point Lookout, MO, is College of the Ozarks. Almost all of the ranking systems rank College of the Ozarks significantly higher than Missouri Southern. Yet the net tuition for College of the Ozarks is $11,212 while net tuition for out-of-state students at Missouri Southern is $13,546 according to http://www.collegefactual.com. Clearly, College of the Ozarks is the better value between the two schools for non-Missourian students.

  2. Hi Chuck,
    I completely agree. In general, I think this list is valuable for those who don’t meet the financial aid deadline for private schools and therefore aren’t likely to receive significant financial aid to reduce the cost. Then there are cases such as international students who have a harder time qualifying for financial aid. And apparently, there are some people who will just insist on attending an out of state college no matter the circumstances.

  3. Just an FYI regarding Michigan’s Lake Superior State University. As of this school year, they only charge one tuition rate regardless of residency.

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