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The Best Colleges With Tuition Under $20K

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The class of 2021 recently walked across the stage and received their diplomas. While that's something to celebrate, many members of this age group are now saddled with insurmountable student loan debt. Add to this a global pandemic, in which most students have been home-bound and spending their tuition on fully remote closes, and it's an interesting time to be a college student.

Take a Look: Explore the Cost of Education in the United States
Read: Can You Afford Education in America at These Prices?

Historically, tuition costs have risen 3% every school year; after the Great Recession, state budget cuts caused tuition and fees to skyrocket. State funding in 2018 for two- and four-year colleges was more than $6.6 billion below the 2008 funding, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. These ever-rising costs make it considerably difficult for students to even enroll in college, let alone graduate.

The cost of attending university has grown significantly faster than the average income. Prospective and current students have to rely heavily on financial aid and student loans to shoulder the price. Thankfully, quite a few colleges offer annual in-state tuition at a more reasonable price.

GOBankingRates examined the U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Best National University Rankings list and identified the 21 highest-ranking schools with tuition and fees for the 2020-21 school year below $20,000. This excludes fees associated with housing, dining, transportation and other costs.

Many prospective students may not see the Golden State as affordable, but there are six University of California schools in this study.

Check out the cost to attend these respected universities that give you more bang for your buck.

Last updated: Aug. 9, 2021

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University of California — Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,543
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $13,239.00
  • 4-year graduation rate: 80%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 92%

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University of California — Berkeley

  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,780
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $14,312
  • 4-year graduation rate: 76%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 93%

Alternate Routes: The World’s Most In-Demand Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

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University of Michigan — Ann Arbor

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,266
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $15,948
  • 4-year graduation rate: 80%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 93%

Learn More: 21 Budgeting Tips for College Students

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University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 17,011
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $17,304
  • 4-year graduation rate: 89%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 95%

Take Note: 15 College Degrees That Won’t Make You Money

 

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University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 19,335
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $8962
  • 4-year graduation rate: 84%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 91%

See: What It Really Costs To Attend America's Top 50 Colleges

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University of California — Santa Barbara

  • Location: Santa Barbara, California
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 23,349
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $14,391
  • 4-year graduation rate: 68%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 83%
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University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 35,405
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $6,380
  • 4-year graduation rate: 67%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 88%
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Georgia Tech

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 15,964
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $12,852
  • 4-year graduation rate: 46%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 90%
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University of California — Irvine

  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,382
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $15,761
  • 4-year graduation rate: 69%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 84%
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University of California — San Diego

  • Location: La Jolla, California
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,794
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $14,679
  • 4-year graduation rate: 65%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 87%
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University of California — Davis

  • Location: Davis, California
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,982
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021:$14,658
  • 4-year graduation rate: 63%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 87%
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University of Texas — Austin

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 40,163
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $10,858
  • 4-year graduation rate: 66%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 86%
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University of Wisconsin — Madison

  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 33,456
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $10,746
  • 4-year graduation rate: 62%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 88%

Discover: What It Would Really Mean To Cancel Student Loan Debt

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University of Georgia

  • Location: Athens, Georgia
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 29,848
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $12,080
  • 4-year graduation rate: 65%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 86%

Find Out: Where These Top CEOs Went to College

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University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign

  • Location: Champaign, Illinois
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 34,120
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $16,866
  • 4-year graduation rate: 70%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 85%
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Ohio State University

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 46,818
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $11,518
  • 4-year graduation rate: 62%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 86%
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Purdue University

  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 33,646
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $9,992
  • 4-year graduation rate: 58%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 82%
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Florida State University

  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 32,270
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $6,516
  • 4-year graduation rate: 68%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 83%
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University of Maryland

  • Location: College Park, Maryland
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,511
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $10,779
  • 4-year graduation rate: 69%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 87%
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University of Pittsburgh

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 19,200
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $19,678
  • 4-year graduation rate: 65%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 83%
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University of Washington

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 32,046
  • Tuition and fees for 2020-2021: $11,745
  • 4-year graduation rate: 66%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 84%

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Alexandria Bova contributed to the reporting for this article. 

Methodology:GOBankingRates examined the U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Best National University Rankings list and identified the 21 highest-ranking schools with tuition and fees for the 2020-21 school year below $20,000. Information on each school's location and enrollment were provided from U.S. News & World Report. Tuition and fees were sourced from each university's website and include mandatory all-student fees, but exclude fees such as housing, dining, transportation, and other variable costs associated with attendance. Tuition rates for full-time freshmen were selected where variable estimates were provided. Supplemental data on each school's 4- and 6-year graduation rates for students pursuing bachelor's degrees who began in 2013 was sourced from the National Center for Education Statistic's College Navigator.  All data was compiled on and up to date as of May 25, 2021.

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