(I’ve updated this post with information available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System in the January of 2016)
Back when I was a freshman attending a rather large state university in Austin, Texas, I ran into quite a few students (relatively speaking) from the state of New York. They told me that they were attending college in Texas because our out-of-state tuition was cheaper than their in-state tuition. I only saw them that one year because the following year, the legislature raised out-of-state tuition and Texas was no longer as appealing to New Yorkers as it once was.
That sort of situation isn’t as common today as it once was but it still happens. Based strictly on an average of all the states’ public universities total cost of attendance (not weighted), students who are residents in six states (New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, and Virginia) could find it cheaper to attend public universities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Minnesota. Of course, that’s assuming the students don’t qualify for any need based aid at their state university. And any cost savings would probably be lost in travel costs and the like making the entire proposition a wash in the end.
However, out-of-state tuition is a major concern of many foreign students who don’t qualify for in-state tuition in any state. The average total cost of attendance for out-of-state residents at public colleges is $32,521, up from $30,779 in 2013. There are 189 public institutions whose total cost of attendance for out-of-state students is less than $30,000 compared to 67 private colleges.
Texas has the most colleges with a total cost of attendance of $30,000 or less with 24 schools, 5 private and 19 public. Georgia had 18 followed by Michigan and Oklahoma with 15 each. Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin all had 12 colleges below $30,000. If you’re just looking at private colleges, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida rank at the top along with Texas. Georgia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota join the top of the list with the most public schools with out-of-state tuition under $30,000.
Of schools with a total cost of attendance (out of state tuition and living expenses) less than $30,000, only 27 qualified as 50-50 schools. There were 24 public and 3 private. Not surprisingly, there are more public schools with a total cost of attendance of less than $30,000 than there are private institutions. However, since private colleges are much more likely to give institutional aid, you can’t assume that the best deal will always be a public school.
The following table lists 256 colleges (public and private) that have a total cost of attendance of less than $30,000 according to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System information as of January 2016. The five-year graduation rate is used for public schools and the four-year rate for the private schools. (This is just some of the information that you will find on the DIY College Rankings College Search Spreadsheet.)
Colleges with Total Cost of Attendance of $30,000 or Less