7 Cheapest Colleges in the US | Ranked By Experts

cheapest universities in the US
cheapest universities in the US
cheapest universities in the US
cheapest universities in the US

Do you think you can’t afford higher education in the U.S.? Think again. This blog post will show you the 7 cheapest colleges in the United States for students.

The following information and tuition fees refer only to undergraduate degrees, but many of these universities offer graduate degrees. If you are comfortable with the fees, click on their names to go to their websites and learn more.

Remember that even if the tuition fee is cheap, there could be additional mandatory fees beyond the tuition, like annual enrollment fees, housing expenses, transport expenses, and course materials costs. These should be taken into account when studying.

Without wasting much time, here are the seven cheapest colleges in the U.S.

    1. The City University of New York System (CUNY)
    2. University of People
    3. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    4. South Texas College
    5. Utah Valley University
    6. New Mexico State University


  1. California State University, Long Beach


The City University of New York system is the first public, coeducational liberal arts college. CUNY has served as a pathway for success for thousands of alumni. This includes several U.S. Senators, federal judges, and Olympic medal holders. 

CUNY has 26 individual institutions where students can learn from award-winning faculty. Baruch College, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, City College of New York, and more are among those intuitions.

First-time applicants must have an SAT score of at least 1000 or the ACT equivalent.

The college offers affordable tuition, interest-free payment plans, and generous scholarships and financial aid packages. 

CUNY’s average annual tuition fee is a minimum of $3,000 to as high as $17,400. It is entirely dependent on which institution of CUNY you attend. Even though the individual institutions associated with CUNY have different tuition, they are still relatively cheaper to attend.

2. University of the People 

University of the People is the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, accredited online university. With an innovative online learning model and instructors from the world’s leading academic institutions, UoPeople offers the opportunity of high-quality, accessible, affordable American degree programs.

The university offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in computer science, business administration, health science, and a master’s degree program in business administration and education. Classes are taught by globally leading faculty from UC Berkeley and NYU.

Though you don’t pay anything for tuition, you will have to pay an assessment fee per course completed. 

The estimated total fees for the associate degree are $2,060 

The estimated total fees for the bachelor’s degree are $4,060

3. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is the second-largest Hispanic-Serving Institution in the United States. It describes itself as “bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate.” The university began operations in 2015 following the merger of three border region schools. 

The university offers 120 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at 13 schools and colleges. Students can complete these degrees entirely online or in a hybrid format. Many programs offer courses on an accelerated seven-week schedule. 

UTRGV tuition ranks among the lowest public universities in Texas and even guarantees not to increase tuition for up to four years. It also caps tuition at 12-semester credits, which means students can take up to two more courses per semester at no additional cost. 

The average annual tuition fee of UTRGV is $4,166.

4. South Texas College

Founded in 1993, South Texas College offers both undergraduate degree and certificate programs. The university is credited with transforming life paths and communities in the Hidalgo and Starr counties, as 67% of its students are the first in their families to attend a university.

Dedicated to creating social and economic mobility in these communities, South Texas College maintains a 22:1 student-teacher ratio, creates cross-disciplinary learning experiences, and endorses cost efficiency in higher education.

The average annual tuition fee of South Texas college is $4,200.

5. Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University is a combined institution of both a community college and a public teaching university. The university offers career-focused training in conjunction with quality academic programs. Utah’s most significant and fastest-growing university, UVU, admits close to 41,000 students. UVU is one of eight public colleges and universities in the Utah System of Higher Education. 

UVU offers open admission to all who apply. UVU also offers affordable tuition and financial aid to qualifying students. 

The university offers degrees in social sciences, humanities, and engineering, and technology. Other degrees include the arts, education, and business. The university also provides 13 online bachelor’s degrees in high demand majors. These include aviation science, nursing, business, and criminal justice. 

The average annual tuition fee of South Texas college is $7,572.

6. New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University offers academic, technical, vocational, and continuing education programs. It was founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College. The main campus is in Las Cruces, and it offers online classes. 

The university is known for its creative and advanced programs. The university enables students to explore topics in conservation ecology and professional golf management. NMSU Online has developed over 70 affordable online degrees, and students can complete graduate certificates and vocational programs online. 

New Mexico State University provides tuition assistance, scholarships, and grants to those in need. Over 67% of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid. 

The average annual tuition fee of South Texas college is $7,867.

7. California State University, Long Beach

Founded in 1949, California State University, Long Beach – also known as Long Beach State, or “The Beach” – is the third-largest campus of the California State University system, with 23 branches across the U.S.’ most populated state.

With a campus located only 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean and a 40-minute drive from Hollywood, you can enjoy a variety of science-focused programs, art programs, and degree options in liberal arts, business administration, education, health, and human services, engineering, and mathematics.

The university admits over 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers courses online and at its main campus in Southern California. CSULB boasts of cheap tuition rates and high earning potential for its graduates.

Even though the university is cheap, it is a selective university, admitting only 28% of applicants. Students interested in distance learning can enrol in courses and programs through CalStateOnline. This is the state system’s centralized portal for distance learning. 

The CalStateOnine system offers 74 bachelor’s, 146 master’s, and seven doctoral degrees. Students can complete their degree programs in fully online and hybrid formats. 

The average annual tuition fee of CSULB is $8,982.

How Much Does the Average U.S. College Cost?

Going to college isn’t cheap, significantly, since the cost of education has risen nonstop throughout the years. Nowadays, the average U.S. undergraduate student ends up burdened with $132,860 worth of debt.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that in-state students pay an average of $9,212 in tuition and fees for the 2018-2019 academic year. Meanwhile, out-of-state students pay an average of $26,382.

Each state maintains its standards for determining a student’s residency status. Proof of residency may include a record of tax payments, an occupational or state license, or full-time employment within the state. Some states prefer reciprocity agreements that allow each member’s students to enrol as in-state learners.

Colleges in the U.S. have different pricing between in-state and out-of-state students. Out-of-state students typically spend more to attend. Meanwhile, international students are often subject to significantly higher fees.

Explore the in-state residency requirements at your chosen school. In-state tuition can make your college degree much more affordable.

What Makes One College Cheaper Than Others?

Most colleges that seem cheaper are public institutions that receive their funding from city and state governments.

The reason private colleges might seem more expensive is that the state government does not fund them. However, a few private colleges have made affordable education a part of their mission and usually offer more financial aid to students through grants and scholarships. This significantly reduces the advertised sticker price.

Are Online Colleges a Cheaper Option?

Online colleges are typically cheaper than traditional physical universities because online colleges don’t need to pay for physical facilities and support staff. As a result, you can reduce your expenses by not living on campus or paying for transportation costs.

Tips for Saving Money During College

While getting a college degree is unquestionably a hefty expense for any student, there are some steps you can take to make your education more affordable.

1. Use Your Student Discounts

Lots of businesses and restaurants offer discounts for students who can provide proof of admission. If you are shopping online, you can take advantage of these deals by providing a university email address. In brick and mortar stores, you can present your school ID.

2. Use Secondhand or Digital Textbooks

Textbooks are expensive but needed for your education. You can find an alum in the area selling secondhand textbooks at a discounted price to cut down costs. Some online stores charge less, and e-books are quickly becoming the norm. You can also check out textbooks from a library free of charge.

3. Increase Your Credit Load

You can add more course load to your curriculum so that you can graduate earlier. This will not reduce your tuition fees, but you will spend less on room and board, and you can graduate and start earning earlier.

How to Choose the cheapest college

With so many options, deciding which one to choose is not easy.

Once you have narrowed your list to colleges you can afford, remember to consider additional expenses. If the cost is too high, you can consider studying at a more affordable American online university.

Meticulously explore the programs and the career opportunities that interest you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to graduates of various programs; you should be able to find them on LinkedIn easily. Networking in your dream industry isn’t just for graduates only.


Figuring out how to pay for college can be pretty challenging, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you. Bear in mind that your degree program doesn’t need to drain you completely; there are plenty of steps you can take to remain comfortable while studying, and finding a cheap college in the U.S. is just one of them!


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