What Are The Most Affordable Colleges in the Nation?

There are many tools available to help you find the most affordable institutions.

The cost of college is a huge factor when trying to decide which college you are going to attend. You have tuition but you also have to figure in your room and board, your meals, books, and, other supplies necessary to be successful in class. Finding the most affordable college differs for each student, depending on what they are going to school for. Obviously, a 4-year college is going to be more expensive than a 2-year college or vocational school. Room and board is also a big deciding factor. To live in the dorms, it can cost as much as 20% of your total tuition costs. Choosing a college that is close to home could save you a lot of money. The tools listed below are meant to narrow down your search for the most affordable colleges based on your major, institution type, etc.

The average cost of attendance for the 2011-12 academic year, for an in-state university, was $15,000. This price includes tuition, room, board, books and incidental expenses. However, even with this information, it is hard to know exactly how much it will cost to attend a college until you receive your financial aid letter from the school. The implementation of a new federal law that requires every college that receives federal aid to post a “net price calculator” that gives an estimate of your actual cost of attendance after grants and scholarships are factored in, at least gives you an idea of what your costs are going to be. Of course, this price is subject to change at any time. Your best bet would be to contact a financial aid officer at universities you’re interested in and they’ll be happy to give you more information about price.

We all understand how hard it is to make this decision. That’s why the U. S. College Affordability and Transparency Center offers several tools to help prospective students find the most affordable college to suit their needs:

College Navigator

By using the College Navigator you can compare colleges by certain criteria, such as how much it will cost, what majors or degree programs are offered, graduation rates, even the size of the school.

Net Price Calculators

The net prices given by the net price calculator include the tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and the total amount that will be necessary to attend that college for a year. There are many available online and are very beneficial when determining your budget in college.

College Affordability and Transparency List

Another way to find the most affordable colleges for you is to check out the College Affordability and Transparency List. Very easy to use, simply select which type of institution you’re looking for, whether you’re searching for high or low tuition/net prices and violà, a list appears that fits your criteria. Additionally, this list will show you schools where costs are rising the fastest.

College Scorecard

The College Scorecard tool gives information about specific schools and their costs. By using this tool, it is easier to find all the information you need to make your decision, all in one place. This Scorecard helps you keep track of the schools you have chosen to compare, and their costs.

These are only a few of the interactive tools that the website has to offer. There are many things to consider when choosing the right college. Unfortunately, money is usually the biggest factor of all. Without scholarships or grants, students are sometimes forced to choose an institution that is not their first choice because of a lack of affordability. However, some of these cheaper schools still provide great education.

According to CNNMoney.com, the College Affordability and Transparency Center has named South Texas University, in Rio Grande Valley, TX, the cheapest in the nation. STC offers a Bachelor of Applied Technology, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, and Associate of Science. Tuition runs $2,366 and the net price is $1,317.

Next, is the University of Texas-Pan American, in Edinburg, TX, with tuition fees of $4,304 and the net price of $1,646. This institution offers baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees.

The third cheapest in the nation is Indian River State College. Tuition is $1,983 and net prices are $2,138. IRSC started out as a Junior College, then was named a Community College, and, finally is considered a State College. Indian River State College offers students 9 Bachelor’s Degree programs to choose from. This institution also offers a program for adults who did not graduate to earn the credits they are lacking to get their GED.


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