The 17 Most Affordable American Universities For In-State Residents

 After graduation, most high school students have the very important task of choosing the right college that will not only hone their skills and abilities but also set their future in the right direction. Most American colleges are cognizant of this fact and do all they can to attract the best and brightest students; one of such ways is to lower the tuition fee for in-state residents so as to retain high-performing scholars in the state. A few colleges have gone over and beyond in this regard and having done the research, we’ve compiled the 17 American colleges with the lowest direct cost of attendance for their residents.1

This is a building on the campus of University of Arkansas at Monticello campus.

UAM had its humble beginnings as an Agricultural & Mechanical College; even today, it’s still the only school in Arkansas to offer a degree in Forest Resources. UAM is not only magnanimous to its residents but also extends the same arm of generosity to its neighbors such as Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee, offering the same in-state tuition fee to their residents.

The resident DCA is $14,520.2

This is an office building at University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

UNC-Pembroke offers over 40 bachelor degrees and 17 master degrees at a really affordable rate for its residents. Having started out as a small liberal arts university catering to the American Indian population in Pembroke, Robeson County, it has gradually evolved into a reputable institution with a growing diverse student population. Its’ motto is ‘where learning gets personal’ and boasts of classes taught exclusively by either professors or faculty instructors.

This is the Leon C. Billingsly Student Centre at Missouri Southern State University.

Established in 1937 as a junior college, it was upgraded to a state institution when residents of its county approved a bond to construct a larger campus in 1964. Courses offered in MSSU range from healthcare to information technology to education. In the spring of 2011, the university narrowly missed bring destroyed by a deadly tornado and its buildings were used as the headquarters for volunteer efforts in the community.


This is a building in the Eastern New Mexico University campus.

ENMU is the newest instituted university in New Mexico and is a federally designated Hispanic-serving school. The curriculum is spread across the board and ranges from wildlife and fisheries to digital film-making. ENMU houses several well-stocked museums, including the Jackson Williamson Library which has one of the top science fiction collections in the world with over 30,000 volumes.


This is a statue of the mascot of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

SWOSU is one of six regional universities of Oklahoma and is situated in the small town of Weatherford. Its college of pharmacy is widely acknowledged nationwide as one of the top pharmacy schools with value for money. Some notable alumni have passed through its grounds and include NASA engineer, John Aaron, who developed the electrical recovery sequence which saved the crew aboard the Apollo 13 mission.


These are statues of military personnel in Lincoln University.

Originally opened in 1866 as a school to educate only black soldiers, it was expanded by the state of Missouri to accept non-military applicants several years later. It now accepts applications from all ethnicities but its grounds pays homage to its beginnings by erecting statues of military personnel in full gear.


Aerial view of Dickinson State University.

DSU prides itself in being a hub of creative possibilities in a small town as shown in its motto; ‘Small community, Big opportunity’. A few years back though, the university was embroiled in enrollment controversies which saw a downgrading of its accreditation status but it has since bounced back and is now fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


A park at Lewis-Clark State College campus.

Lewis-Clark has one of the most eclectic curriculum on this list and has about 85 degrees on offer, ranging from justice studies to hospitality management. It started out as a much needed teachers’ training college in the 1890’s, churning out teachers that had real hands-on practical experience before being converted to an independent four-year college. It however, still adheres to its principle of extensive manual training of its students.


Students of Montana State University Billings out and about.
Courtesy of Flickr
Due to the mountainous terrain of Montana, MSU Billings is sited in a location that can only be termed as interesting, at the base of a rim-rock formation and this makes for a prime tourist location. MSU Billings has a host of degrees on offer and is the first choice for students with an eye for adventure.


This is an aerial view of Southern Arkansas University.

In the beginning was a little district agricultural high school for Southwest Arkansas but the State Legislature had more lofty dreams for this little school and authorized the addition of two years of college work to the curricula. By 1951, the little school had blossomed into a four-year degree granting institution, wafting its fragrance all across the state of Arkansas. Now it has a truly diverse student body from over 40 American states and 41 countries.


This is a building at Fort Hays State University.

With over 15,000 students enrolled on campus and online, Fort Hays has the largest student population on this list. The University’s Sternberg Museum of Natural History houses 100,000m2 of dinosaur fossils and fossils of several extinct marine creatures and is a major tourist attraction for the city of Hays.


Buildings at University of Montana Western.

The campus of UM Western is often regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in the state of Montana; with its lush greenery and sprawling grounds, it has become a second home for loads of Montana residents.  It began modestly as a teacher’s training college in the 1890’s but expanded a couple of years into a four year university, with a special emphasis to environmental sciences.


A long stretch of road at Idaho State University.

Idaho’s lead institution in health and medical sciences has a rich history; 118 years for anyone who’s wondering. The youngest American college president at the time, Carl McIntosh, was appointed at the age of 32 to head the growing college and under his leadership, ISU expanded in student enrollment, faculty and infrastructure. Now with over 50 courses offered and 11,000 enrolled, there is no stopping the upward movement of Idaho State University.


This is a building at New Mexico Highlands University campus.

Sited in the very colorful city of Las Vegas, NMHU is close to the various tourist attractions that dot the city’s landscape. Its campus has been featured on two occasions in Hollywood productions as its architectural buildings make it a prime location for Western movies. NMHU encourages all its students to enjoy the great outdoors and provides camping, hiking and skiing gear at no cost.


Football pitch at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

The home of the Rowdy Rangers as they are nicknamed is a small liberal arts university which first opened its doors over 100 years. Its grounds cover almost 400 acres of land space and three communities. Courses offered include Spanish, Social work and Computer Science, just to name a few.


Pack Pride Flags at Arkansas State University

Covering over 1,320 acres, Arkansas SU is the university with the largest land mass on this list. The years after its opening have seen it grow into a destination university with over 150 degrees on offer. It is unanimously noted to be the economic and cultural engine of Northeast Arkansas and has over 81,000 alumni dispersed all over the world and they include a college president, several NFL players, a governor, several House of Representative members and a host of others.


Palm trees and school monument at Pensacola Christian College. 

Drum Roll please as we announce the most affordable college in America; it’s Penascola Christian College. This is the only privately-run college on this list and it is located in the beachside community of Penascola, Florida. For a small college, it boasts quite a robust curriculum from Graphic Design to Pre-Med. It also has a quite diverse student population as well with 54 countries represented at PCC.

We would love to hear your preferences when considering a college; is affordability a criterion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

1Direct cost of attendance is the summation of the costs paid directly to the college namely; tuition, admin fees, room and board charges. The figures cited were obtained from the colleges’ websites using the most expensive options for the 2018 – 19 academic year.
2DCA means direct cost of attendance.

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