Cheapest and most expensive states for college tuition
An aerial view of the Golden Dome at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana
The escalating cost of college tuition has been a growing concern for students and their families, with affordability differing from state to state. To identify the cheapest and most expensive states for college tuition in the U.S., MoneyGeek analyzed undergraduate annual tuition data from 2013 to 2023 and found that, while the Northeast is home to most of the states with the highest tuition costs, the South and the Midwest offer some of the most budget-friendly options for higher education.
Here are some key findings from our analysis
A US map showing the states that offer the cheapest and most expensive college tuition
Florida boasts some of the lowest public tuition rates in the country, with in-state students paying $3,877 and out-of-state students paying $14,067 for the 2022-23 academic year. With in-state tuition roughly 62% below the national average ($10,115), residents save $6,000 each year on tuition costs in the Sunshine State.
Oregon has seen the most significant increase in public college tuition from 2013 to 2023 of any state, with in-state tuition costs rising by 117% and out-of-state fees growing by 70%. In-state tuition is so expensive there that residents might find it more cost-effective to pay out-of-state tuition in 24 other states.
The Northeast takes the lead when it comes to expensive public college tuition, with rates 34% higher than other regions. Notably, states like Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have public tuition fees exceeding $21,000 yearly, more than 40% higher than the national average.
When considering private colleges, expect to pay $10,000 (or 67%) more in tuition fees per year. Average tuition for private colleges is around $26,000 per year for 2022-23, but in states like Massachusetts, you could pay up to $46,000.
The South and Midwest boast the lowest tuition costs in the US
A chart showing the 5 States With The Cheapest Public College Tuition Fees
The South and Midwest regions offer some of the most budget-friendly public tuition fees in the U.S. Florida, for instance, charges the lowest in-state public tuition fees in the country at just $3,877 per year, which is 61.7% below the national average of $10,115 — that translates to savings of around $6,000 each year. Georgia also boasts affordable tuition fees, with public in-state tuition at a mere $5,906 per year and out-of-state tuition at $13,115. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, North Dakota and South Dakota have the nation’s two cheapest out-of-state tuition rates, both under $12,000.
Western states have seen notable tuition increases in the past decade
Two charts showing 5 States With The Highest 10-Year Increase In In-State Public Tuition & 5 States With The Highest 10-Year Increase In Out-Of-State Public Tuition
Of the most expensive states for college tuition, Oregon tops MoneyGeek’s list; students there paid $20,000 for in-state tuition and nearly $40,000 for out-of-state tuition for the 2022-23 school year. From 2013-23, Oregon witnessed the steepest increase in public tuition of any state, with a staggering 117% rise in in-state fees and a 70% hike in out-of-state fees. This steep rise in costs may prompt local students to look for more affordable education options in other states, as 24 other states offer lower out-of-state tuition than Oregon’s in-state fees.
Other Western states, such as Wyoming and New Mexico, have also experienced notable public tuition hikes over the past decade. Wyoming’s in-state public tuition increased by 76%, with out-of-state tuition seeing a sharper rise of almost 90%. New Mexico’s in-state tuition also grew by 57%.
Southern states, including Oklahoma and Texas, experienced substantial tuition increases as well. Oklahoma’s in-state public tuition soared 85% over the past decade, ranking second only to Oregon, and Texas’ in-state tuition increased 76%. Out-of-state tuition in both Southern states grew by nearly 50%.
The Northeast is home to some of the nation’s priciest colleges
A chart comparing Public College Tuition Fees By Region (Annual Rates
Public tuition costs in the Northeast are the highest in the nation, averaging around $13,000 annually for in-state students and $26,000 for out-of-state students. Compared to other regions, the Northeast’s in-state public tuition is 38% more expensive, while its out-of-state tuition is 30% higher. In contrast, the West provides the most affordable in-state tuition, averaging $8,450 — 35% cheaper than the Northeast. The Midwest also offers some of the lowest out-of-state tuition rates at $18,126, 30% less than the Northeast’s steep prices.
Among Northeastern states, Vermont is the priciest
A chart showing the 5 Northeast States With The Highest Public College Tuition Fees
Vermont is the costliest state in the Northeast for college tuition, charging in-state students nearly $23,100 and out-of-state students $31,444 for the 2022-23 academic year. With the third-highest average tuition in the nation, Vermont follows closely behind Oregon and Virginia.
The neighboring states of Connecticut and Rhode Island aren’t far behind, taking No.4 and No.5 place in MoneyGeek’s national ranking for most expensive tuition fees. At over $21,100 in annual tuition, these two states charge 40% more than the national average. Students planning to study in these high-cost areas might consider leveraging the best student credit cards — with perks like cash back on educational expenses — to help manage their finances.
Northeastern states also have the highest private tuition costs in the US
States With The Most Expensive And Cheapest Private College Tuition
When choosing between private and public colleges, keep in mind that private institutions typically come with a heftier price tag of about $10,000 — or 67% — more in tuition fees. This premium is based on the average yearly tuition of public colleges ($15,642) and private colleges ($26,045) across the United States. In states like Massachusetts, the private college premium can even skyrocket to $20,000.
However, there are budget-friendly private tuition rates in states like North Dakota and Delaware, where annual tuition falls below $13,000 — nearly half the national average. Parents looking to support their child’s private school education might explore the best personal loans for credit, whether they have good credit or bad credit. MoneyGeek included a full list of the five cheapest and most expensive states for private university tuition below.
MoneyGeek analyzed undergraduate tuition data from College Tuition Compare, spanning from the 2013-14 academic year to the 2022-23 academic year. Our focus was on in-state public tuition, out-of-state public tuition and private college tuition. To assess 10-year changes in tuition costs, we compared data from the 2022-23 academic year to that of the 2013-14 academic year. Wyoming had no private tuition data available, so we didn’t include information about it in our study. To rank the most expensive states for tuition, we averaged the cost of in-state public tuition and out-of-state public tuition for the 2022-23 academic year. For private tuition, the data is based on NCES/IPEDs reported average tuition by the institutions.