You don’t have to sacrifice academic quality to get an affordable college education. In fact, you can find top-notch schools in every state that aren’t exorbitantly priced.
To help, GOBankingRates has identified the top school in every state that costs less than $20,000 a year, based on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings and college costs (tuition and fees). Keep reading to see the best college in every state.
Alabama: Auburn University
Tuition and Fees: $10,968
If you live in Alabama and want to save money on college, you might want to consider this university. Founded in 1856, Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 30,000 and offers more than 140 majors. Annual in-state tuition and fees are well below $20,000, but room, board and other costs bring the total cost to more than $30,000.
Alaska: University of Alaska — Fairbanks
Tuition and Fees: $7,520
With one of the lowest in-state tuition and fees on our list, students likely won’t have to get too creative when paying for college. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks has seven campuses in Alaska and is America’s northernmost Land, Sea and Space Grant institution.
Arizona: Arizona State University — Tempe
Tuition and Fees: $10,792
This Top 10-ranked research university has one of the largest undergraduate enrollments in the United States and offers more than 300 undergraduate academic programs. Plus, Arizona State’s online undergraduate program is ranked as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Plus, the cost to attend this school can be lower than the average cost of college in the state.
Arkansas: University of Arkansas
Tuition and Fees: $9,062
In-state tuition and fees at the University of Arkansas are lower than at the majority of universities on our list. Located in Fayetteville, the school has more than 27,000 undergraduate students and offers 85 undergraduate majors. The school also employs the highest-paid public employee in Arkansas.
California: University of California — Berkeley
Tuition and Fees: $14,218
With an admission rate of 18 percent, it’s tough to get into this highly ranked public university, which is known for its liberal student activism. Plus, even though the university — which is commonly referred to as Cal — is one of the best colleges with tuition under $20,000, the cost of attending this school is higher than most on our list.
Colorado: University of Colorado — Boulder
Tuition and Fees: $12,086
CU Boulder, as it is called, prides itself on the research opportunities it offers. Aside from being one of the best value schools for its tuition under $20,000, it is known for its entrepreneurial business, aerospace engineering, physics and other science programs.
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Connecticut: University of Connecticut
Tuition and Fees: $15,730
Although in-state tuition and fees are less than $20,000 at the University of Connecticut, it’s one of the most expensive schools on our list. UConn is known for its NCAA Division I athletic teams, especially in basketball.
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Delaware: University of Delaware
Tuition and Fees: $13,160
Located in Newark, Del., the University of Delaware has more than 23,000 students, is home to America’s first study-abroad program and offers more than 100 such overseas programs. Even when you add in room and board, the total annual cost for in-state students at this public university is less than $26,000.
Florida: University of Florida
Tuition and Fees: $6,380
The University of Florida has the second-lowest in-state tuition and fees among the best colleges under $20,000 a year. More than half of the students who graduate from one of Florida’s oldest schools have no student-loan debt. In fact, when you look at the average student loan debt by state, Florida ranks among the states with the lowest amount.
Georgia: Georgia Tech
Tuition and Fees: $12,618
Located in Atlanta, Georgia Tech is known for its highly ranked engineering school, and its athletic teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Even with room and board, the total annual in-state costs make it one of the best colleges under $30,000 per year.
Hawaii: University of Hawaii — Manoa
Tuition and Fees: $10,872
Located in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii at Manoa is the flagship campus of this state system of campuses. It’s known for its programs in tropical agriculture, tropical medicine and oceanography, to name a few.
Idaho: University of Idaho
Tuition and Fees: $7,488
The University of Idaho has the sixth-lowest in-state tuition and fees on our list. When you add in room and board, the total cost of this public university in Moscow, Idaho, is just over $20,000 — at $21,300 a year.
Illinois: University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign
Tuition and Fees: $16,004
With more than 32,000 undergraduate students, this large university is one of the more expensive schools on our list. Still, the University of Illinois is about one-third of the cost of the most expensive college in the state.
Indiana: Purdue University — West Lafayette
Tuition and Fees: $9,992
Tuition and fees at Purdue are lower than more than half of the schools on our list. Purdue is known for its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Its athletic teams, the Boilermakers, compete in the Big Ten Conference.
Iowa: University of Iowa
Tuition and Fees: $9,190
The University of Iowa has the 15th-lowest tuition and fees among the best colleges under $20,000 a year. In fact, when you add housing and meals, the total annual cost is still below $20,000 for in-state students.
Kansas: University of Kansas
Tuition and Fees: $11,020
The University of Kansas in Lawrence is the main campus in this state school’s system of five campuses and more than 370 degree programs. More than 28,000 students attend KU, which has won five national basketball championships.
Kentucky: University of Kentucky
Tuition and Fees: $11,772
In-state tuition and fees at the University of Kentucky are well below $20,000. Even non-residents pay less than $30,000 a year at this school, which has more than 22,000 undergraduate students and over 200 academic programs.
Louisiana: Louisiana State University — Baton Rouge
Tuition and Fees: $11,318
With housing and meals, the total annual cost for in-state students at LSU is about $20,000. The majority of students graduate from this school in Baton Rouge with no debt.
Maine: University of Maine
Tuition and Fees: $10,902
The University of Maine has more than 9,000 undergraduate students and 90 undergraduate majors. It is the state’s only public research university and has the lone NCAA Division I athletics program in the state.
Maryland: University of Maryland — College Park
Tuition and Fees: $10,180
In-state tuition and fees at the University of Maryland are well below $20,000. But out-of-state residents pay more than $30,000. The school offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, and its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Emmy Award winners, two Tony Award winners and two recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.
Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts — Amherst
Tuition and Fees: $15,787
UMass has the fifth-highest tuition and fees on our list. When you add room and board, the total annual cost for in-state students is nearly $29,000 at this school, which has more than 23,000 undergraduates and 112 undergraduate degree programs.
Michigan: University of Michigan — Ann Arbor
Tuition and Fees: $14,826
The University of Michigan is a much better value for residents because in-state tuition and fees are about one-third the cost of tuition and fees for non-residents — about $47,000. This selective school admits only 29 percent of students who apply, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Minnesota: University of Minnesota — Twin Cities
Tuition and Fees: $14,488
In-state tuition and fees at the University of Minnesota are about half the cost of tuition for non-residents. However, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Manitoba residents pay the same as in-state residents at this school with more than 31,000 students.
Mississippi: University of Mississippi
Tuition and Fees: $8,290
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, has the ninth-lowest tuition and fees on our list of the best colleges under $20,000. It is Mississippi’s largest university, with more than 24,000 students.
Missouri: University of Missouri
Tuition and Fees: $11,258
Although tuition at Mizzou, as it’s called, is well below $20,000, the total cost with room and board for in-state students is nearly $27,000. It was the first public university west of the Mississippi River and has more than 30,000 students.
Montana: Montana State University
Tuition and Fees: $7,150
Montana State University has the fifth-lowest in-state tuition and fees on our list. Even with room and board, the total annual cost is just $17,750.
Nebraska: University of Nebraska — Lincoln
Tuition and Fees: $9,242
The cost of tuition and fees at the University of Nebraska is lower than tuition and fees at a majority of schools on our list. This member of the Big Ten Conference has more than 20,000 undergraduate students and about 150 majors.
Nevada: University of Nevada — Reno
Tuition and Fees: $7,599
Tuition and fees at the University of Nevada, Reno, are the eighth lowest on our list. It is Nevada’s first public university, has more than 18,000 undergraduate students and attracts a number of students interested in earthquake research.
New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire
Tuition and Fees: $18,067
The University of New Hampshire has the second-highest tuition and fees on our list. However, the total cost, including room and board, for in-state students still comes in under $30,000 at this school in Durham, N.H., which has more than 13,000 undergraduates.
New Jersey: Rutgers University — New Brunswick
Tuition and Fees: $14,970
Although Rutgers is one of the best colleges under $20,000, its tuition and fees are among the 10 highest on our list. It is the eighth-oldest higher-education institution in the United States and has more than 49,500 undergraduate students at its three campuses.
New Mexico: University of New Mexico
Tuition and Fees: $7,146
The University of New Mexico’s in-state tuition and fees are the fourth lowest on our list. However, when you factor in books, room and board, the total cost for a full academic year is nearly $22,000 at New Mexico’s flagship university, in Albuquerque.
New York: Binghamton University — SUNY
Tuition and Fees: $9,808
Once a branch of Syracuse University, the State University of New York at Binghamton has nearly 14,000 undergraduate students. Tuition and fees are lower at Binghamton University than at more than half of the schools on our list.
North Carolina: University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill
Tuition and Fees: $8,910
The University of North Carolina is No. 9 in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best value schools for its high academic quality at a low cost. UNC has more than 18,000 undergraduate students and an acceptance rate of only 27 percent.
North Dakota: University of North Dakota
Tuition and Fees: $8,447
Tuition and fees at North Dakota’s oldest and largest university are among the 10 lowest on our list. Plus, residents from most states in the West and Midwest pay about $12,000 in tuition and fees compared with other non-residents, who must pay about $20,000.
Ohio: Ohio State University — Columbus
Tuition and Fees: $10,591
The cost of tuition and fees is lower at Ohio State than at about half of the schools on our list. This large school, with nearly 46,000 undergraduate students, has more than 200 majors and is known for its athletic teams, which compete in the Big Ten Conference.
Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma
Tuition and Fees: $11,285
Located in Norman, the University of Oklahoma has nearly 22,000 undergraduate students and 170 majors. Although less than $20,000, the school’s in-state tuition and fees are higher than at half of the universities on our list.
Oregon: Oregon State University
Tuition and Fees: $10,797
Oregon State University has nearly 32,000 students and more than 200 academic programs — including forestry, oceanography, robotics and marine biology. When you factor in room and board, the in-state cost of attending Oregon State is about $27,000.
Pennsylvania: Temple University
Tuition and Fees: $15,768
Temple University has the sixth-highest tuition and fees on our list, but it’s still a value for less than $20,000. Located in Philadelphia, Temple has eight campuses and more than 38,000 students. Philadelphia also is one of the best cities to score your dream job, another GOBankingRates study has found.
Rhode Island: University of Rhode Island
Tuition and Fees: $13,792
Although more expensive than a majority of schools on our list, the University of Rhode Island still has tuition and fees below $20,000, and the school’s total cost with room and board for in-state students is below $27,000. Nearly 15,000 undergraduates attend this school in Kingston.
South Carolina: Clemson University
Tuition and Fees: $14,712
Clemson University’s tuition and fees are among the top 10 highest on our list of best schools under $20,000. This science- and engineering-oriented university has more than 18,000 undergraduate students.
South Dakota: South Dakota State University
Tuition and Fees: $8,460
South Dakota State University’s tuition and fees are the 11th lowest on our list. Even the total annual cost with books, room and board for both in-state and non-resident students is below $20,000.
Tennessee: University of Tennessee
Tuition and Fees: $12,970
Although in-state tuition and fees at the University of Tennessee are well below $20,000, non-resident students pay more than $31,000. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee’s flagship university has more than 22,000 undergraduate students.
Texas: University of Texas — Austin
Tuition and Fees: $9,914
This large school has more than 40,000 undergraduate students, 18 colleges and schools within the university, and more than 170 fields of study. Tuition and fees at UT-Austin are lower than at more than half of the schools on our list.
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Utah: Brigham Young University — Provo
Tuition and Fees: $5,620 to $11,240
Founded by the Mormon church, this private school has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 31,000. It charges tuition of $5,620 for members of Latter-day Saints church and $11,240 for non-LDS students.
Vermont: University of Vermont
Tuition and Fees: $18,276
The University of Vermont has the highest tuition and fees of any school on our list but still comes in under $20,000. The school’s more than 10,500 undergraduate students can choose from over 100 majors.
Virginia: University of Virginia
Tuition and Fees: $16,076
The University of Virginia has the third-highest tuition and fees on our list of the best schools under $20,000. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, UVA has an acceptance rate of just 30 percent.
Washington: University of Washington
Tuition and Fees: $10,974
Total in-state costs with room and board come in below $20,000 at the University of Washington. The school has three campuses — its main campus is in Seattle — and is known as a top research institution.
West Virginia: West Virginia University
Tuition and Fees: $8,976
West Virginia University’s tuition and fees are the 13th lowest on our list. Located in Morgantown, the school offers 123 majors, and residents of Ohio and Washington, D.C., also might qualify for reduced tuition.
Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin — Madison
Tuition and Fees: $10,534
Tuition and fees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are lower than at more than half of the schools on our list. It has nearly 30,000 undergraduate students, and its athletic teams compete in the Big Ten Conference.
Wyoming: University of Wyoming
Tuition and Fees: $5,218
The University of Wyoming has the lowest in-state tuition and fees of any school on our list. Even with books, supplies and room and board, the estimated yearly cost of $15,186 still comes in below $20,000 at Wyoming’s only four-year public university.
Click through to see the most expensive colleges in every state.
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Methodology: To determine qualitatively the “best” colleges, GOBankingRates sourced US News 2018 Best Colleges for National Universities with the highest ranking in each state. Annual costs are based on in-state tuition and fees (not counting room and board), sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and individual college websites. The “best” college in each state has the highest US News ranking and the lowest overall cost, i.e. in-state tuition and fees.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.
U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.
She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.