You’re a high school senior. An enormous mountain of student loan debt looms before you. Many choose to cross their fingers and hope that they’ll get a good job after they graduate and be able to pay it off quickly. Others look for ways to go into as little debt as possible by applying for scholarships and living frugally. Why scale that mountain if you don’t have to?
That’s where the valiant quest for a high quality and cheap education comes in. Luckily, the holy grail of cheap colleges is relatively easy to find. In this post, I’ll go through your best options including those for best free colleges, best cheap colleges, and best cheap Ivy League!
The Best Free Colleges
Yes, there are some places where you can actually go to school for free! These are the ultimate cheap colleges. Here are your options!
Location: Berea, Kentucky
Berea College was founded by abolitionists and reformers and is routed in the Christian values of love, human dignity, equality, and peace. It was the first Southern school to admit everyone – whether they were black or white, female or male. They give each student a full scholarship but the students are required to work 10-15 hours a week in different places across the campus which is common among some cheap colleges. They have 32 different majors including a dual degree program in engineering, visual arts, and the humanities. They take around 1,612 undergraduates every year with 7.1% of those being international students.
Deep Springs College
Location: Inyo County, CA
This school only admits 11-15 male students every year, but they’re currently planning to start educating women as well, so check their website if you’re interested. The students who are admitted spend two years working on a cattle and alfalfa farm that’s located near the California-Nevada border. The college believes in group decision making and studying year-round. The benefit for the work-study positions is that all students pay nothing in tuition, room or board. Deep Springs is also a great path to the Ivy League because of its rigorous academics. Of those transferring between 2007 and 2011, half transferred to Yale, Brown, or the University of Chicago. Others ended up at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, Oxford, Harvard, and Princeton. This track record is unique among the cheap colleges.
Military Service Academies:
Locations: NY, MD, CT, CO
From West Point to Kings Point there are five great military service schools where you can get a great free education. There is the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, and the United States Cost Guard Academy in New London. Each school has different requirements but generally you get a free education in return for a term of service to the military. You also generally get funds to cover books and other expenses and government perks like a great medical car plan, and low rates. Plus, they’re the only ones of the cheap colleges to guarantee you a job after graduation.
College of the Ozarks
Location: Point Lookout, MO
College of the Ozarks is a Christian college that tries to develop citizens that are well-education, patriotic, and hardworking. Debt is openly discouraged here, all students work on campus and no tuition is charged. In addition, no federal, state, or private loans are given out. That makes it stand out among the cheap colleges.
Alice Lloyd College
Location: Pippa Passes, KY
Tuition at Alice Lloyd College is $10,980 however the average need-based grant is $8,783. In fact, students in Alice Lloyd’s service program go to college for free. The catch? They must work 10 horus a week or 15 hours if they want to get room and board free as well. Not a bad deal as far as cheap colleges go.
Location: Glen Cove, NY
This is a school that is highly specialized. They have one major – Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Thanks to the generosity of the Institute’s founder, all U.S. citizens receive full tuition scholarships for all four years. There also aren’t any lab, library or other course fees to pay. The school is well known for Full-tuition scholarship covering all four years are awarded to all accepted students who are U.S. citizens or Green Card holders.
CUNY’s Teacher Academy
Location: 9 different locations in the CUNY system
This is a program that provides free tuition to anyone who wants to become a NYC math or science middle or high school teacher. NYC needs hundreds of math and Science Teachers and in addition to helping them get an education, they also have special recruitment, certification, and compensation benefits on offer. These include housing subsidies. This is one of the few cheap colleges that will give you a job upon graduation.
Macaulay Honors College at CUNY
Location: New York, NY
Macaulay provides students with a full tuition scholarship, a laptop computer, an opportunities fund for global research, study, service, and internships, and a cultural passport to NY arts and cultural venues. Many students also receive housing support. The college accepts talented New Yorkers and gives them a great education. If you’re from New York, this is the best of the cheap colleges.
The Best Cheap Colleges
If you’re going to get an education you might as well get a high quality cheap education. The U.S. is lucky to have a number of cheap colleges available for you to go to. This is your ultimate guide to the best cheap colleges that you can go to.
Brigham Young University
Location: Provo, Utah
You luck out at Brigham Young if you’re a Mormon. As the school is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tuition for Mormons is only $2,500. If you’re not a Mormon, however, it’s still a cheap $5,000. While the school has a reputation for great graduates, prospective students should be aware of their strict honour code which makes BYU students promise not to live with members of the opposite sex, drink, swear, or smoke. That makes the school significantly less competitive than some other schools of similar quality since not every student looking for cheap colleges wants to agree to a strict honor code. They give degrees in such diverse fields as education, engineering, law, nursing, and fine arts, among many others.
Location: Houston, Texas
Rice University isn’t terribly well known – but it should be. It’s ranked 19th in the nation by US News’ College Ranker. They have a strong science program and pledge to meet 100% of a student’s proven needs qualifying it for this list of cheap colleges. Tuition certainly isn’t cheap with the rate pegged at $40,566 for the 2014-2015 year, but only 30% of their students have borrowed money when they graduate and the average debt is only $17,856, which is much less than the average.
University of Virginia
Location: Charlottesville, VA
The University of Virginia takes educating students seriously and tried to help them from taking on too much debt. The prestigious school charges in-state tuition of only $12,998 per year and out-of-state tuition of $42,184. However, the average scholarship or grant award is $18,635, making going to school there fairly affordable and earning it a place among our cheap colleges. It’s also very well respected with a rank of 23 out national universities by the US News Ranking. It’s well known for its Business/commerce, Internatioal Relations, Biology, Economics, and Psychology programs.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
UNC is an extremely well-respected university and offers an in-state tuition of only $8,374 per year and out-of-state tuition and fees of $33,624. The average needs-based financial aid package is $14,866. UNC-Chapel Hill is ranked 30 by US News College Ranking. It’s well known for it’s small class sizes and programs in Communications and Media Studies, Psychology, Biology, Business Administration and Economics.
University of Texas – Austin
Location: Austin, TX
Aside from the fun of living in one of the coolest and weirdest towns in the US, in-state residents pay only $9,798 for tuition while out-of-state students pay $34,722. Financial aid averages out at $8,713, but out-of-state scholarship winners can sometimes qualify to pay the instate rate. If you want to go here, consider taking Business, Management, Marketing, Communication, Journalism, Engineering, Social Sciences, or Biology.
Colorado School of Mines
Location: Golden, CO
Colorado School of Mines is a state Engineering school that offers a great return on investment. Tuition is $16,918 in-state and $33,598 out-of-state with average Financial Aid usually $5,354. However, students make a great average salary upon graduation. Out of all the cheap colleges, this one is the best one for anyone wanting to go into the mining industry.
Location: College Station, TX
Texas A&M is an amazing university and it also fits our definition of a cheap college. In-state tuition is $9,180 and out-of-state tuition is $26,356, however average financial aid is $9,539. It’s definitely a much better deal for student who are Texas residents, but this school is a great college which is known for it’s strength in Business, Engineering, Agriculture, and Biology, among other majors.
Binghamton University – SUNY
Location: Binghamton, NY
Binghampton offers in-state tuition of $8,619 and an out-of-state tuition of $20,259. However, financial aid is $7,521. That makes for a fairly cheap college experience at a great school. Binghamton is known for its English, Engineering, Business and Psychology programs.
California State Polytechnic University Pomona
Location: Pomona, CA
Cal State at Pomona is one of the great cheap colleges, and has some of the lowest fees around. In fact, in-state tuition costs are only $6,350 whereas out-of-state tuition is $17,510. Since average financial aid is $9,018 that makes for a cheap college experience for both in and out-of-state students. What’s more, Pomona is a great school which is known for its Business Administration, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Psychology programs.
Best Cheap Colleges – Ivy League Schools and Prestigious Schools
Some students get sticker shock over tuition prices at Ivy League and other prestigious schools, but you shouldn’t let the official tuition price scare you. Only the wealthiest pay the listed price, everyone else pays much less. In fact, if you’re looking for cheap colleges, and you have the grades and extracurricular activities to get into a prestigious school, then you should definitely apply. Depending on your family income and your academic accomplishments, you can often get a great financial aid package. Most of the time, it will be less expensive than in-state tuition at a top public university. Here are some cheap colleges that will provide you with great deals.
Location: Cambridge, MA
Everyone’s heard of MIT. It’s the best place to study science, math, computer science, engineering – pretty much anything technical. They also have a great business school. The cost of tuition is $45,016, which seems expensive until you hear that the average need-based award is $37,657. In fact, this gem among cheap colleges ensures that students from families that earn $75,000 or less, will get scholarship funding to attend MIT tuition-free.
Location: Cambridge, MA
Harvard University is home to an interesting phenomenon – their average student aid award is more than their tuition price. That’s right. Tuition is $43,938 and the average financial aid package is $44,781. Families that make less than $65,000 per year aren’t expected to pay anything towards their education. That makes the king of colleges also, the undisputed king of cheap colleges.
Location: New Haven, CT
Yale has a tuition charge of $45,800 but that’s not so bad when you consider that their average aid is $44,268. Yale sets tuition price each student pays based on their family income. In fact, families that make less than $65,000 per year aren’t expected to pay anything towards their child’s Yale education. If you are looking for cheap colleges, why not go to Yale?
Location: Ithaca, NY
Tuition at Cornell is $47,286 and average financial aid is $37,681. However, if your family has an income below $60,000 and assets of less than $100,000 then you don’t have to pay anything. They also have a loan initiative which includes a commitment to keep student loans to a minimum. In addition, they try to match any other offer you receive from another Ivy League university.
Location: Stanford, CA
Tuition at Stanford is $44,757 and average financial aid is $41,650. Similarly to other Ivy Leagues, they state that parents with an income below $60,000 will require zero parent contribution for their child to attend Stanford. For parents with incomes below $100,000 and typical assets for this income range, the parents should expect to have all tuition charges covered.
Location: Durham, NC
Tuition at Duke is $47,488 and average financial aid is $39,275. Duke expects students to contribute at least $2,600 towards their education in first year, but does not expect a parental contribution if parents make less than $60,000. Their financial aid package consists of work study, limited student loans, scholarships and grants.
Location: Providence, RI
Tuition at Brown is $27,434 and average financial aid is $38,738. For families with income below $60,00 and assets less than $100,000 there is no parental contributions expected. Families with incomes below $100,000 the loan component of their financial aid package is replaced with scholarships, and for families with income below $150,000, reduced loans are awarded. Even families with incomes above $150,000 get offered scholarships, grants, and loans. You wouldn’t think that Brown would be on a list of cheap colleges, but surprise, surprise!
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