Troy University was originally a teacher’s college where most of Alabama’s educators went to receive their training. But after World War II, GI Bill recipients sought degrees in unparalleled numbers, and Troy expanded its offerings to accommodate this demand. Decades later, Troy’s priorities haven’t changed. A military-friendly university, it provides a variety of online learning options and hosts multiple satellite locations at or near military bases. And the school’s College of Education (which proudly touts over 100 years of experience) now features a network of sites throughout Alabama. The punchline? Of all the options on this best affordable colleges ranking, Troy stands out for its dedication to military members, non-traditional learners, and aspiring teachers.
Average Net Price: $9,350/yr
Middle Georgia State University
MGSU is a new university that formed from the consolidation of two junior colleges: one that focused on mechanical and agricultural arts, and another that had recently gained state college status. Their union produced what is now one of Georgia’s most affordable accredited universities, with comprehensive degree programs and certificate offerings. The aviation-obsessed, in particular, should take a look at Middle Georgia State University’s unusual commitment to aviation education. The school offers a multitude of programs in the field, including an Associate’s in Aircraft Structural Technology and B.S. in Aviation Science and Management.
Average Net Price: $9,313/yr
University of Texas of the Permian BasinOdessa, TX
This small institution provides exemplary programs for students interested in the health and education sectors. Just imagine that an astounding 78% of pre-health professional candidates enroll in training programs and medical schools upon completing their respective UTPB programs. And UTPB’s College of Education churns out impressive numbers, too. In fact, past years have shown its graduates achieving near-perfect pass rates on their teacher certification tests! And teaching candidates who already have their BAs can even opt for an accelerated, online certification process. These statistics – along with the school’s top affordable university ranking – prove that UTPB is a smart investment for future teachers and healthcare practitioners.
Average Net Price: $8,984/yr
Student Body: : 7,119
University of Texas-Dallas
At UT Dallas, eight distinct colleges unite to earn the school a prestigious Carnegie R1 (“Highest Research Activity”) classification. The university’s insistence on boundary-blurring curricula also contributes to its status as a research powerhouse. As an example, take a look at the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. In this college, students impassioned by the arts and humanities apply their interests to computer science, technology, and design. In doing so, degree recipients acquire marketable experience that pushes their creativity and diversifies their career opportunities. And this is just one example of the school’s interdisciplinary approach! So while UTD officially makes our most affordable colleges ranking for its low costs, we think it deserves a nod for innovation, too.
Average Net Price: $8,978/yr
California State University-Sacramento
Although there are plenty of reasons to attend CSU – Sacramento, two in particular stand out from the rest. First is its commitment to diversity: on average, more than 50% of those who attend this affordable, accredited university each year are low-income and/or first-generation college students. Second is its focus on public policy, which includes an impressive array of opportunities for majors in this field. For example, future civic leaders can jumpstart their careers through the school’s Capital Fellows program, which provides students with structured internship experience in California’s own capitol. Although just one of numerous opportunities, the Capital Fellows program exemplifies CSU – Sacramento’s dedication to public service.
Average Net Price: $8,956/yr
Some say that for a world-class education, you need only look in your own backyard. This is certainly the case at Indiana University- Kokomo, where in-state residents can access some of the most affordable accredited degrees on this list. And with financial savvy comes great opportunity, like the ability to invest in one of IUK’s international travel courses. One of this year’s courses includes an intercultural-themed trip to China, where participants explored historical and rural settings in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are even travel options for nursing students, who can fulfill an elective requirement by taking a trip to Guatemala to observe the differences between a developing country’s healthcare system and our own.
Average Net Price: $8,566/yr
Metropolitan State University of Denver
MSU Denver has won the status of a Diversity Champion college for its commitment to a multicultural and a multiethnic campus. And the school certainly has a knack for encouraging its student body when it comes to adversity! From a student who earned her Master of Accounting against her parent’s wishes to an Industrial Design major who forged an unexpectedly successful career in toy making, MSU Denver insists upon offering its students the support they need to succeed. Of course, the university has plenty of academic clout to back up its mission, including an AACSB-accredited business school and award-winning Sales Education program – not to mention its top spot on this affordable colleges ranking!
Average Net Price: $8,416/yr
Texas A & M University-Commerce
For students seeking a top affordable degree program, accessibility is often just as important as cost. Thankfully, Texas A&M University-Commerce excels in both areas. In addition to its main campus near the state’s northeastern border, the school also maintains satellite locations in Dallas, McKinney, Rockwall, and a few other towns nearby. TAMUC has also invested heavily in its online school and now offers over a dozen hybrid and entirely distance-based bachelor’s degrees. And for those who can attend classes on campus, the university provides numerous programs that cater to local interests and economic needs. Such majors include Agribusiness, Equine Studies, Wildlife and Conservation Science, and more.
Average Net Price: $8,351/yr
University of Tennessee-Martin
If you’re going to need financial aid to attend college, rest assured that you’ll be in familiar company at the University of Tennessee – Martin. In fact, around 90% of each incoming class receives some sort of aid package. This figure demonstrates the university’s commitment to educating all students, regardless of where they fall on the economic spectrum. Healthcare majors, in particular, may find that UT Martin is one of the best cheap colleges for helping them accomplish their goals. That’s because, in 2016, graduates of both the nursing and veterinary health technology programs earned 100% pass rates on their certification exams!
Average Net Price: $8,288/yr
University of Alaska Anchorage
With an enrollment just shy of 25,000 undergrads, The University of Alaska – Anchorage is Alaska’s largest postsecondary institution. And befitting its substantial size, this top affordable college is also located in Alaska’s largest city! To be sure, the state doesn’t exactly boast the most convenient location relative to the rest of the U.S., but the journey might be worth it – especially for students interested in wildlife and the environment. The university offers BS degrees in Biological Sciences, Environment, and Society, Geomatics or Geological Sciences, and Natural Sciences, all of which will give you a rare opportunity to turn Alaska’s beautiful backyard tundra into your very own classroom.
Average Net Price: $8,159/yr
University of Missouri-St Louis
Let’s start with some “fast facts” about the University of Missouri – St. Louis. First, it’s one of the most culturally diverse campuses in the state (students hail from more than 100 countries!). Second, more than 70% of UMSL graduates choose to stay in Missouri after graduation. What does this mean? UMSL is one of the best affordable universities for anyone who wants to learn in a diverse environment with strong connections to the local community. And as a bonus, the university’s Whitney Harris Ecology Center, which partners with the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden, is the largest biology conservation program in the U.S.!
Average Net Price: $8,158/yr
Northeastern State University
Located in the small town of Tahlequah at the foot of the Ozark Mountains, Northeastern State University offers a rural escape for the roughly 5,000 undergrads who attend each year. Campus life consists of NCAA Division II athletic games, theatrical performances and musical concerts, and plenty of other activities and events courtesy of NSU’s 80+ on-campus organizations. And if you’re looking for a top affordable college that emphasizes volunteerism, NSU might be the school for you. It even hosts an annual day of service (known as “The Big Event”) during which students spend the day giving back to the community by lending a helping hand to those in need.
Average Net Price: $8,148/yr
California State University-Fullerton
In all, there are a dozen Cal State campuses represented on our best affordable universities ranking. And while they all bear the same CSU title, each location brings something a little different to the table. The Fullerton campus, in particular, is especially proud of the “exceptional value” it offers; indeed, its tuition rates are 32% below the national average! Not only that, but it ranks 2nd among all western universities in the percentage of students it graduates without debt. With no need to stress about money, you’ll have more time to appreciate other perks of attending CSU – Fullerton, like its rich diversity, high-quality professors, and commitment to sustainable design.
Average Net Price: $7,915/yr
University of Louisiana-Monroe
Like many of the schools in this article, the University of Louisiana Monroe first opened its doors as a humble junior college. But over the years, ULM has expanded, improved (it even went through a “Reclaim Our Campus” initiative in 2002 when it was struggling with financial issues), and ultimately become one of the best cheap colleges in the south. Today it offers roughly 40 undergrad programs, including more than a dozen online degrees through its popular “eULM” system. It’s also a strong supporter of non-traditional students. Adult learners can take advantage of a variety of continuing education courses, while precocious teenagers can earn college credit through one of ULM’s three high school programs.
New Jersey City University
NJCU isn’t just one of the best affordable accredited colleges in the country – it also boasts the lowest tuition rate of any four-year public university in all of New Jersey! Students who want access to world-class faculty, a wide array of degree programs, and small class sizes will find plenty to live at New Jersey City. On the academic end, traditional degrees in Chemistry and English stand alongside career-focused majors like National Security Studies, Fire Science, and Media Arts. Outside of the classroom, NJCU “Gothic Knights” can participate in DIII athletics, join intramural teams (including something called “aqua golf”), or take up Greek life.
Average Net Price: $7,753/yr