10 Low-Cost Public Colleges for In-State Students

Kelsey Sheehy

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Staying in-state for college can net students thousands of dollars in savings - as long as they opt for a public school.

Resident tuition and required fees at public universities averaged $8,539 for the 2013-2014 school year, compared with $19,465 for nonresidents, according to data reported by 403 ranked public colleges in an annual U.S. News survey.

[Learn how to get in-state tuition at out-of-state colleges.]

Not only is in-state tuition cheaper than that charged out-of-state students, it is also a fraction of the more than $30,000 average tuition and fees at private universities. Students staying close to home also save on costly airfare and travel expenses.

Oklahoma residents get a particularly good deal on in-state tuition. Five universities in the Sooner State charged less than $5,200 for 2013-2014 tuition and fees, including Northeastern State University and the University of Central Oklahoma, placing them among the 10 least expensive public schools for in-state students.

[Discover 10 ways to save on college costs.]

Tuition and fees at these 10 public universities averaged just $4,876 for 2013-2014, almost half the national average. The University of Wyoming charged just $4,404 for resident tuition and fees, making it the least expensive public college in the country. Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina also charged less than $4,500. The five military academies, which forgo tuition and fees in return for a service commitment, were excluded from this list.

The schools on this list are a bargain even before grants and scholarships are figured in, but that is not the case at all state schools. Pennsylvania is home to the two most expensive public schools in the country - the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania State University. Both schools had a sticker price of close to $17,000 for 2013-2014.

[Find out how to calculate college costs after grants and scholarships.]

Below are the public universities with the lowest tuition and fees for in-state students during the 2013-2014 school year. Due to ties, more than 10 schools appear on this list. Most schools fell in the bottom one-fourth of their ranking category and were designated as Rank Not Published. U.S. News calculates a numerical rank for these schools, but does not publish them. Unranked colleges, which did not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a ranking, were not included in this list.

School name (state) 2013-2014 in-state tuition and fees U.S. News rank and category
University of Wyoming $4,404 161, National Universities
Elizabeth City State University (NC) $4,428 21, Regional Colleges (South)
Louisiana State University--Alexandria $4,617 RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Sul Ross State University (TX) $4,764 RNP, Regional Universities (West)
Northeastern State University (OK) $4,858 RNP, Regional Universities (West)
Northwestern Oklahoma State University $5,054 RNP, Regional Universities (West)
Cameron University (OK) $5,055 RNP, Regional Universities (West)
Coppin State University (MD) $5,076 RNP, Regional Universities (North)
University of Central Oklahoma $5,092 75, Regional Universities (West)
Rogers State University (OK) $5,144 RNP, Regional Universities (West)
University of North Carolina--Pembroke $5,144 80, Regional Universities (South)

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find tuition data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2013 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The tuition and fees data above are correct as of Jan. 14, 2014.