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by Heytutor Blog
I'm an experienced writer with 10+ years writing experience. Topics include; Educations, Politics, Technology & Other

States with the most (and least) expensive college tuition

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo


In the past, attending an in-state public university was commonly considered the path to obtaining a high-quality education at a reasonable price. However, stark increases in tuition at public four-year universities have challenged that assumption. In 2018, the average total cost for tuition, school fees, room, and board for public universities was $20,050 per year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, that’s about twice as high as the rate 25 years earlier. 


Since the 1980s, the increase in college tuition has far outpaced inflation and wage growth. In recent years, rising tuition has coincided with declining state and local support for higher education. Historically, public universities have been funded through two main sources: tuition, which is paid by students and their families, and educational appropriations, which are funded through state and local sources. Today, tuition makes up a higher percentage of total higher education funding than in years past.


According to the State Higher Education Finance FY18 report released by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), the total amount of educational revenue per student has been gradually increasing since 2012 following the Great Recession. However, the overall increase largely comes from an increase in net tuition revenue per student, while educational appropriations per student have declined. In 2018, educational appropriations were $7,853 per full-time enrolled (FTE) student, far below the peak of $9,765 per FTE in 2001.



As state and local support for higher education decline, the prices that students pay go up. But according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity, “The cost shift from states to students has happened over a period when many families have had trouble absorbing additional expenses due to stagnant or declining incomes.” The result is that students now have a much greater likelihood of taking on debt. 


In the wake of these trends, it’s not surprising that incoming college freshmen are more price-conscious than ever before. Interestingly, there is often a large gap between the prices that colleges advertise and what people pay, which is why students should look at net price rather than the published sticker price of attendance. Net price takes into account the published in-state tuition rate, as well as financial aid through grants and scholarships.



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Across the U.S., the average net price for attending a public university is $14,558, about 72 percent of the average published total price of attendance. However, some states have more financially accessible public universities than others. For example, the average net price for attending a public university in West Virginia is about half as much as attending a public university in New Hampshire. With about three out of four undergraduates enrolled in a public university, understanding these costs can help with future college and financial planning.


To find the most and least expensive states to go to public school as a full-time undergraduate, tutoring agency HeyTutor analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics and the SHEEO report. Here’s what they found:

States with the most expensive public colleges


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. New Hampshire

  • Average net price: $22,090

  • Average total price: $30,425

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $17,287

  • Average room & board: $13,138

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 79%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $3,064



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Pennsylvania

  • Average net price: $21,130

  • Average total price: $30,201

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $15,449

  • Average room & board: $14,752

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 73%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $4,228



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Vermont

  • Average net price: $18,591

  • Average total price: $29,796

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $16,862

  • Average room & board: $12,934

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 87%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $3,034



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Massachusetts

  • Average net price: $18,416

  • Average total price: $27,054

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,269

  • Average room & board: $13,785

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 43%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $8,329



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. South Carolina

  • Average net price: $18,179

  • Average total price: $26,736

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,576

  • Average room & board: $13,160

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 66%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $5,104



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Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Ohio

  • Average net price: $17,927

  • Average total price: $25,868

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $11,681

  • Average room & board: $14,187

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 59%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $5,458



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Colorado

  • Average net price: $17,783

  • Average total price: $26,113

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,040

  • Average room & board: $14,073

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 69%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $4,412



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Virginia

  • Average net price: $17,638

  • Average total price: $27,226

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,789

  • Average room & board: $13,437

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 64%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $5,139



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Connecticut

  • Average net price: $17,320

  • Average total price: $27,452

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,903

  • Average room & board: $14,550

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 50%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $11,408



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. South Dakota

  • Average net price: $17,151

  • Average total price: $23,504

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $9,929

  • Average room & board: $13,575

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 68%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $5,145


States with the most affordable public colleges


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. West Virginia

  • Average net price: $10,389

  • Average total price: $21,289

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,558

  • Average room & board: $12,731

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 64%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $4,680



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. New Mexico

  • Average net price: $10,877

  • Average total price: $20,436

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $7,811

  • Average room & board: $12,626

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 24%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $9,637



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Alaska

  • Average net price: $11,340

  • Average total price: $22,889

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $7,573

  • Average room & board: $15,316

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 26%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $17,355



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. New York

  • Average net price: $11,393

  • Average total price: $25,679

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $9,144

  • Average room & board: $16,535

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 37%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $10,064



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Indiana

  • Average net price: $11,755

  • Average total price: $22,925

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,667

  • Average room & board: $12,258

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 61%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $6,378



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Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Utah

  • Average net price: $12,254

  • Average total price: $20,418

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,339

  • Average room & board: $12,080

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 47%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $6,748



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. California

  • Average net price: $12,336

  • Average total price: $28,058

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $11,030

  • Average room & board: $17,029

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 20%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $9,762



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. North Carolina

  • Average net price: $12,542

  • Average total price: $21,474

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,408

  • Average room & board: $13,066

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 34%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $8,584



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Washington

  • Average net price: $12,830

  • Average total price: $24,709

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,507

  • Average room & board: $14,202

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 46%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $6,787



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Texas

  • Average net price: $12,838

  • Average total price: $23,167

  • Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,062

  • Average room & board: $13,105

  • Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 40%

  • State & local appropriations per student: $7,172


Methodology & full results

The pricing data used in this analysis is from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES-IPEDS). The average net price is for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates paying the in-state tuition rate who were awarded grant or scholarship aid from federal, state or local governments, or the institution. For each institution, the average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state or local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total published price of attendance. Apart from net price, the other pricing statistics shown reflect what is published by the universities. 


For each state, weighted average pricing statistics were calculated using each institution’s estimated full-time equivalent enrollment. Only public, four-year, degree-granting institutions were included. Additionally, online institutions were removed from the analysis. 


Data on education revenue and appropriations is from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. All data shown is for the 2016-2017 school year, which is the most recent data available on net price from the NCES.



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