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The Best States for College Tuition

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 7/13/2010

What are the best states for college tuition? This article answers that question by listing some of the cheapest states and showing how much students can expect to pay there.

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    This article is about the best states for college tuition; that is, which states have the lowest tuition for public colleges. This can be somewhat difficult to determine, because many states don't charge the same rate for every college. In addition, public schools charge different rates depending on whether the student resides in or out of state. In state students typically pay much lower rates than out-of-state students, who are often charged rates near those of private schools.

    Just because a state does not charge much for tuition doesn't mean its colleges are sub-standard. Many top public schools are quite affordable. This is because public schools are funded by the state in addition to the students. In terms of quality of teaching and research opportunities, state schools are often top notch. There are however issues with class size, particularly in larger schools.

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    The Top States

    • Nevada. The University of Nevada: Reno has one of the cheapest in state tuitions, at $5,561. The school is pricey, though, for students from out of state - tuition is $18,851. Room and board is also costly, at $10,599.
    • Florida. Florida State University, the state's flagship university, costs only $4,566 for in-state tuition. Once again, out-of-state tuition is fairly expensive at $19,011. The University of Florida is also a very good value. In 2006, it was ranked the top value university in the country. There are a number of other inexpensive colleges in Florida, making it perhaps the best state for affordability.
    • Wisconsin. Wisconsin state schools are renowned for their high quality education and low in-state tuition. The University of Wisconsin - Madison costs $8,310 for state residents and $23,059 for out-of-state. There are also a number of other branches of the University of Wisconsin which cost less than UW Madison.
    • North Carolina. UNC Chapel Hill is a very good value, costing only $5,625 per year for residents. This elite university admits only 32% of applicants, and is consistently ranked one of the top values in America. Non-residents can expect to pay, though: out of state tuition runs $23,513.
    • West Virginia. West Virginia University, a well-regarded school, charges $5,304 per year. Out-of-state tuition, too, is relatively inexpensive at $16,402.
    • Oregon. Oregon State University and Oregon University are both excellent values. They cost $6,727 and $7,428, respectively, per semester.
    • Washington. The two flagship universities, the University of Washington and Washington State University, are very affordable - they cost seven to eight thousand dollars a year. However, it isn't their tuition that makes them special. Both schools have recently implemented a program to offer free tuition to some students. In order to qualify, students must be state residents and qualify for Federal Pell or State grants.
    • California. Though many of the state schools in California are fairly expensive, there are several good deals to be had. And of course the cost must be compared to cost of living, which is high in California. Top values include schools like UCLA, San Diego State University, and California State University: Long Beach.
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    As you can probably see, the best states for college tuition have very inexpensive college rates. However, in order to qualify for reduced rates students must be residents of the state. There are typically rules in place to prevent students from claiming the state as their home residence without having lived there before college; these rules generally require several years of residence. Since public colleges charge so much more for out of state residents, often times the best state for college tuition is your own. However, it may make sense to move to a specific state if you are interested in going to school there. Also, many public schools are a very good value even at out of state rates. Visit the sites below to find more information about the best states for college tuition.

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