When you’re looking at colleges, the last thing you want is to overpay or to get too far into debt on your way to a good education. It’s tough enough to get a job as it is with a college degree, after all — there’s no need to overcomplicate things any further.
We were curious: exactly which states had the lowest college tuition costs? Using College Board data about in-state college tuition and fees from 2016-17, we put together the above map showing the locations of the cheapest states to get a college education.
The annotated list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.
The fact remains that some states are just able to make college more affordable than others. Some states have specific programs in place to make college easier to pay for students; other colleges are just located in states where the cost of living tends to be cheaper, which will certainly also make your college cheaper, but also has the potential to lower the quality or value of that education.
Using data from College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, we put together a list of each state’s average in-state and out-of-state tuition costs.
Then we ranked each state based on which had the lowest average in-state costs, which got us our final list of the Best States for In-State Tuition.
That’s it! For those looking for a simpler, less colorful version of the map at the top of this article, we’ve got you covered:
Does your state make the top ten states for in-state tuition costs? Read on to the full list to find out.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $5,060
Five Year % Change: 15%
Description: Wyoming, the land of mountains and wide-open spaces and, if movies are to be believed, about a hundred thousand cowboys. Wyoming ranks at the very top of our list for college tuition fees — apparently the state’s remarkably square shape is symbolic of the fact that they don’t cut any corners when it comes to the costs of a college tuition.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $6,360
Five Year % Change: 6%
Description: America’s lopsided goatee, Florida is well known for being the place you have to drive through in order to get to Harry Potter World. It’s also got some of the lowest college tuition rates in the US, which doesn’t make up for how hot and muggy it is down there, but it does help.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $6,410
Five Year % Change: 2%
Description: Montana, also known as “Big Sky Country” or as “That One Square-ish State That Has a Face on One End.” A land full of glaciers, mountains, and a variety of climates, Montana also boasts the 3rd lowest in-state tuition costs on our list.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $6,580
Five Year % Change: 17%
Description: In addition to having some of the lowest income inequality in the nation and some of the highest levels of Mormons, Utah also has the 4th lowest in-state tuition fees in the US.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $6,620
Five Year % Change: 14%
Description: Yet another Mountain State with remarkably low college tuition and fee rates, New Mexico was one of the last states brought into the US. Originally known for its oil and natural beauty and also its oil, today New Mexico is most well-known for all the aliens that the government is hiding from us there.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $6,910
Five Year % Change: 7%
Description: Boy, there is just something about these Mountain States, huh? A beautiful state in the Great Basin region of America, Nevada is also located partially within the Mojave Desert, which was of course popularized as the primary setting for the video game Fallout: New Vegas.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $7,010
Five Year % Change: 16%
Description: While technically part of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho straddles the lines between the Cascades and the Midwest. Idaho’s official nickname is “The Gem State,” so called due to the amount of Idahoans that enjoy bedazzling their own items of clothing.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $7,130
Five Year % Change: 23%
Description: Some fast facts about Alaska: 1) it’s big, 2) it has the 8th lowest college tuition rates in the nation, and 3) it is bigger than every country in the world combined, and also the moon.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $7,200
Five Year % Change: 19%
Description: North Carolina is perhaps best known as the home of both the Research Triangle as well as NASCAR, which are perhaps the two most diametrically opposed things to have ever existed in all of creation. Tuition rates are rising across the nation, but with a 19% change, NC is one of the states being hit hardest by these rising costs.
Average In-State Tuition and Fees: $7,410
Five Year % Change: 23%
Description: Mississippi, best known for its eponymous river and for being the thing that everyone sounds out when they’re counting seconds. Mississippi is currently home to a thriving campus arts and literature scene, particularly in places like Oxford, which might account for some of the 23% five year change in in-state tuition costs.
You’ll find our extended table below with all of our findings, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
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