In-State Tuition Isn’t Always a Bargain


Everyone’s got an eye on the bottom line when planning for college, and staying in your home state is often a top money-saving strategy. But be sure to compare true costs when looking at in-state schools to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Case in point: Pennsylvania. There are surely some local bargains in the Keystone State, but there are also some shockers. The average in-state tuition nationwide was $9,139 for the 2014-2015 school year according to The College Board’s research, but freshmen at two PA schools—University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University Park—were paying nearly double that.

In fact, a lot of you living in the Northeast face some pricey in-state schools. The top 10 list of most expensive public colleges, compiled by U.S.News & World Report, also includes institutions in:

    • New Hampshire (UNH, $16,552)
    • New Jersey (NJIT, $15,602)
    • Maine (Maine Maritime Academy, $17,120)
    • Vermont (University of Vermont, $16,226)

Elsewhere in the country, in-staters are paying top-of-the-line fees in:

    • Colorado (Colorado School of Mines, $16,918)
    • Illinois (UIUC, $15,602)
    • Virginia (Virginia Military Institute, $15,518; and College of William and Mary, $17,656)

The good news is that these high-priced in-state schools are often highly ranked. It’s up to you to determine whether there’s enough value there to justify the higher price.

In-State Bargains
But just as there are sticker-shock schools, there are also bargains to be found. U.S. News covers the other end of the spectrum by noting the 10 least expensive public universities, where tuition averages $4,893. This is especially great news if you’re in North Carolina, where three schools charge less than $5,300 per year.

Other low-price states include:

    • North Dakota (Bismark State College, the lowest at $4,222)
    • Kansas (Fort Hays State University, $4,469)
    • Wyoming (University of Wyoming, $4,646)


This article was written by Sarah Engel

Sarah Engel is a staff editor for Sarah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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