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With National Decision Day rapidly approaching on May 1st, high school students across the country are in the final hours of the college admissions process (our college counseling tutors can help with admissions. Struggling with Calculus? Get. Calculus tutoring today). As students weigh their options, factors such as location, educational quality, and reputation will influence their decisions. But according to the education research firm EAB, price is the main reason why many students ultimately don’t choose their top-choice school.

The rise in college tuition has far outpaced inflation and wages since the 1980s. Adding in school fees, room, and board, students can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars before receiving their bachelor’s degree. With student loan debt reaching a record $1.46 trillion, incoming freshmen (more than ever) are considering the sticker price, financial aid packages, and potential return on investment of different colleges to determine which is the best fit.


Some students take advantage of lower in-state tuition and opt for a public university within their home state. Historically, many public universities were founded as “land grant institutions” under the Morrill Act of 1862, with the purpose of educating students within the state on matters of economic interest—specifically agriculture and mechanic arts. Although academic offerings and student populations have significantly expanded since the act first went into effect, many public universities today carry out the same mission of providing economic and social benefits to the state and prioritize the education of its residents.


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While in-state students at public universities benefit from discounted tuition and fees, out-of-state students face list-price tuition—the tuition the schools advertise—that is on par with private institutions. The average out-of-state tuition advertised by public 4-year universities in the U.S. is $24,854, compared to $29,478 for private 4-year institutions. But these numbers vary widely across states and institutions. Looking at list-price tuition, private tutoring and fees, public universities in the Great Plains region offer more affordable options for out-of-state students, whereas universities in coastal states post higher prices.


The public schools with the highest list-price tuition also tend to be more selective, as reflected by the average SAT score of incoming freshmen. Nationwide, the average combined SAT score for the 2017-2018 school year was 1060 (527 Math & 533 Reading). Notably, all of the top 50 most expensive 4-year public schools have an estimated combined SAT score that exceeds the national average.


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At first glance, students might think that they need to decide between graduating with less debt from a less selective school or with more debt from a more selective school. But according to Dr. David H. Feldman and Dr. Robert B. Archibald, both professors of economics (take a look at our microeconomics tutors and macroeconomics tutors) at the College of William & Mary, this is not necessarily true.


“Because of increases in financial aid and tuition discounting, there is a growing gap between average list price and average net price,” explained Archibald. According to their research, only about half of students at public universities pay list price. Furthermore, many students’ net price—the price paid after taking into account scholarships, grants, and other aid—often deviates from the average net price by large amounts. This means that for students from low-income families, the sticker price of an institution shouldn’t necessarily turn them away.


“I think people just presume that attending a highly ranked school means tons of debt. It doesn’t,” explained Feldman. “The net price for students at highly ranked colleges is inversely correlated with family income. For low-income families (people in the bottom half of the income distribution), attending many elite schools...is free or close to free.” Research from The Hamilton Project—an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution—also suggests that for low-income students, the out-of-pocket costs are actually lowest at the most competitive institutions.


Despite increases in financial aid, many students are still subject to the rising sticker prices. To find which public colleges and universities post the most expensive tuition for out-of-state students, private tutoring service HeyTutor analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES-IPEDS) for the 2017-2018 academic year. HeyTutor looked only at 4-year public institutions, which they grouped into the following categories based on undergraduate enrollment:


  • Large schools: more than 20,000 students

  • Midsize schools: 5,000 - 20,000 students

  • Small schools: less than 5,000 students


While the difference in tuition for in- and out-of-state students varies by university, the median difference across all schools analyzed is 2.3—meaning that out-of-state students not receiving financial aid typically spend more than twice what in-state students without aid pay. Here is the full list of the most expensive universities for out-of-state students (in order of list-price tuition and fees):

The most expensive large public colleges & universities
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25. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Tuition and fees: $31,014 out-of-state / $13,230 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 27,193

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 27%

  • SAT Math: 590-690

  • SAT Reading: 590-670


Located in Blacksburg, VA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is more commonly known as Virginia Tech. About 57 percent of the student population is male, contrasting with the national trend of female enrollment outnumbering male enrollment. The most popular academic programs at Virginia Tech are related to business and engineering. In addition to its reputation for high quality academics, students cheer on the Hokies at football and basketball games throughout the year.


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24. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Tuition and fees: $31,194 out-of-state / $15,074 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 33,955

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 11%

  • SAT Math: 710-790

  • SAT Reading: 630-710


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a Big Ten school and the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system. (the best private tutors in Chicago are on HeyTutor) This university boasts more than 150 different undergraduate offerings, but business and engineering-related programs are the most popular. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has the highest SAT math scores on this list. Students from out of state pay about twice as much as in-state students to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (



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23. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Tuition and fees: $31,390 out-of-state / $12,970 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 22,317

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 20%

  • SAT Math: 560-650

  • SAT Reading: 580-660


A public research university founded in 1794, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville is home to ten undergraduate colleges that span subjects such as business, architecture, nursing, and arts and sciences. The most popular majors are logistics, materials, and supply chain management; psychology; and kinesiology and exercise science. The gender breakdown at this university is evenly split, and one in five students at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (tutors in Nashville) comes from out of state.



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22. University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Tuition and fees: $31,962 out-of-state / $11,862 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 26,362

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 50%

  • SAT Math: 580-670

  • SAT Reading: 590-660


Situated in the heart of South Carolina’s capital, the University of South Carolina-Columbia is the largest university in the state. Half of undergraduates at the university come from out of state, the highest percentage on this list. Finance, exercise physiology, biology (biology tutors in Charlotte) and public health are the most common majors, and the university is highly ranked for its programs in international business and exercise science. (check out the best tutors in Columbia, South Carolina)



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21. University of Massachusetts-Amherst

  • Tuition and fees: $33,477 out-of-state / $15,411 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 23,388

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 18%

  • SAT Math: 590-690

  • SAT Reading: 590-670


The University of Massachusetts-Amherst (tutors in Boston) has expanded significantly since it was initially founded as a land-grant institution to teach scientific agriculture. While the university has remained in its rural setting, academic offerings have expanded to many branches of humanities, science (science tutors Boston), engineering, business, health, and more. Today, some of the most popular majors at UMass-Amherst include psychology, biology (biology tutors in Boston), public health, and communications.



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20. University of Maryland-College Park

  • Tuition and fees: $33,606 out-of-state / $10,399 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 29,868

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 27%

  • SAT Math: 650-750

  • SAT Reading: 630-720


The University of Maryland-College Park is a Big Ten school and the largest university in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Its proximity to the nation’s capital offers ample opportunities for students to undertake research projects and internships that serve the university’s mission of advancing “knowledge in areas of importance to the State, the nation, and the world.” Some of the most popular majors at the University of Maryland-College Park are computer science, economics, biology, and criminology.



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19. Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Tuition and fees: $33,656 out-of-state / $13,624 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 23,663

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 6%

  • SAT Math: 520-620

  • SAT Reading: 550-640


Located in Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is an urban campus that evolved from the merger of the Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia. Today’s students continue this legacy of pre-professional training, especially in the health sciences. The most popular majors at VCU are psychology, business, and biology. Only 6 percent of undergraduates at VCU are from out of state.



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18. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

  • Tuition and fees: $33,664 out-of-state / $18,436 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 40,835

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 37%

  • SAT Math: 580-680

  • SAT Reading: 580-660


Located in State College, PA, Penn State is another Big Ten school, well-known for its football team, top-ranked business school, and extensive research programs. The most popular academic programs are related to engineering, business, computer science, and social sciences. One in ten students at Penn State is from a foreign country, and 37 percent are from states outside of Pennsylvania.



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17. George Mason University

  • Tuition and fees: $34,370 out-of-state / $11,924 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 25,010

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 18%

  • SAT Math: 540-640

  • SAT Reading: 560-650


George Mason University (GMU) is located in Fairfax, VA and boasts ten schools and colleges spanning different areas of study. The most popular majors are psychology, criminal justice, information technology, and accounting. As a research university, GMU offers many opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research through the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR).



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16. University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Tuition and fees: $34,783 out-of-state / $10,533 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,358

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 36%

  • SAT Math: 660-760

  • SAT Reading: 620-690


The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the premier academic institutions in the Midwest. One of its longest and deepest traditions is the Wisconsin Idea, which posits that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. This philosophy helps guide the university and serves as the foundation for its commitment to public service. At the undergraduate level, the most popular majors are biology, economics, computer science, and psychology. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is also a Big Ten school with a robust athletics program.



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15. Indiana University-Bloomington

  • Tuition and fees: $34,845 out-of-state / $10,533 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 33,429

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 36%

  • SAT Math: 570-680

  • SAT Reading: 570-670


Based in Bloomington, Indiana University is a major hub not only for education, but also for research, sports, and fine arts. This university is home to 12 different schools and colleges, including a world-class music school and a business school. Business, public administration, and kinesiology are the most common majors. Like many other schools on this list, Indiana University-Bloomington is also a Big Ten school.



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14. University of Arizona

  • Tuition and fees: $35,307 out-of-state / $11,877 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 34,101

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: not reported

  • SAT Math: not reported

  • SAT Reading: not reported


Based in Tucson, the University of Arizona was founded in 1885. Since then, the university has expanded to 34,101 undergraduates, and more than a third of those students take a portion of their classes online. The most common majors are psychology, physiology, and interdisciplinary studies. The university’s 100% Engagement initiative also extends learning beyond the classroom by encouraging students to pursue experiential learning opportunities such as research projects, internships, study abroad, or service learning.



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13. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Tuition and fees: $35,538 out-of-state / $10,974 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,331

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: not reported

  • SAT Math: 600-730

  • SAT Reading: 590-690


The main campus for the University of Washington is located in downtown Seattle, offering students access to numerous opportunities for internships, entertainment, and cultural experiences. The most popular areas of study are in psychology and communications. UW-Seattle prides itself on its diversity with more than half of the student population identifying as minorities.



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12. University of Colorado Boulder

  • Tuition and fees: $36,220 out-of-state / $12,086 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 29,056

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 43%

  • SAT Math: 570-680

  • SAT Reading: 580-660


Situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Colorado Boulder is a public institution known for its strong research focus. The University of Colorado Boulder houses the Fiske Planetarium, a Museum of Natural History, and several institutes dedicated to the study of bioscience, aerospace, and energy. Business, psychology, and economics are the most popular majors. The percentage of undergraduates from out of state is 43 percent.



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11. Texas A&M University-College Station

  • Tuition and fees: $36,606 out-of-state / $11,234 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 53,065

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 4%

  • SAT Math: 570-690

  • SAT Reading: 570-670


Texas A&M-College Station sits between three of the largest metro areas in Texas: Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Austin. Originally founded as an agricultural and mechanical (A&M) college, the university has expanded its offerings to include topics in business, science, humanities, and more. However, some of the most popular academic programs remain engineering, business, and agriculture. Texas A&M-College Station has the largest student population on this list (53,065 undergraduates) and only 4 percent are from out of state.



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10. The University of Texas at Austin

  • Tuition and fees: $36,744 out-of-state / $10,398 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 40,492

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 8%

  • SAT Math: 600-740

  • SAT Reading: 620-720


The University of Texas at Austin has the lowest in-state tuition on this list, at $10,398. The university offers a wide array of academic programs, and the most popular majors are biology, economics, and computer science. Outside of the classroom, students at UT-Austin can be found cheering on the Texas Longhorns at football games, visiting one of the university’s art and history museums, or getting involved in Greek life. Demographically, more than half of the students at UT-Austin identify as minorities.



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9. Michigan State University

  • Tuition and fees: $39,406 out-of-state / $14,460 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 38,996

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 15%

  • SAT Math: 550-670

  • SAT Reading: 550-650


Michigan State University (MSU) is a Big Ten school located in East Lansing. Like many other schools on this list, MSU was originally founded as an agricultural college that later expanded its academic offerings. Today, the most popular majors are advertising; logistics, materials, and supply chain management; and economics. In addition to watching the Michigan State Spartans in football and basketball games, students are heavily involved in Greek life and more than 900 other organizations.



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8. University of California-Los Angeles

  • Tuition and fees: $41,275 out-of-state / $13,261 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,002

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 15%

  • SAT Math: 600-740

  • SAT Reading: 620-710


One of the ten schools in the University of California system, UCLA is located in the Westwood Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, about 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean. UCLA has the largest student population among California schools on this list. UCLA is highly diverse, with 73 percent of students identifying as non-white. Sociology, political science, and psychology are the most common majors at UCLA.




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7. University of California-Irvine

  • Tuition and fees: $41,752 out-of-state / $13,738 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 29,307

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 2%

  • SAT Math: 590-700

  • SAT Reading: 580-650


Located in the heart of Orange County and a few miles from Disneyland, UC-Irvine was founded in the 1960s under the California Master Plan for Higher Education. The campus at UC-Irvine is known for its Brutalist architecture, research institutes, and central park. The most popular majors are biology, business, and computer science. Only 14 percent of the student population identifies as white and only 2 percent of undergraduates are from other states.



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6. University of California-Riverside

  • Tuition and fees: $41,931 out-of-state / $13,917 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 20,073

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 1%

  • SAT Math: 540-660

  • SAT Reading: 550-640


Located in Southern California, UC-Riverside became part of the University of California system in 1954. The university is known for its highly diverse student body and prides itself on being a member of the University Innovation Alliance, an organization which improves educational access for students from underrepresented communities. Some of the most popular majors are business, biology, and experimental psychology. Only 1 percent of students at UC-Riverside are from out of state and more than 14,000 students are commuters, according to the university’s website.



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5. University of California-San Diego

  • Tuition and fees: $42,032 out-of-state / $14,018 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 28,587

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 6%

  • SAT Math: 610-730

  • SAT Reading: 600-680


UC-San Diego is located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. The campus is known for its diverse architectural styles, public art, and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. UC-San Diego also houses the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a leading center for marine research. The most popular majors include economics, business/managerial economics, and research and experimental psychology. Despite strong academics, only 6 percent of students are from out of state.



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4. University of California-Berkeley

  • Tuition and fees: $42,184 out-of-state / $14,170 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,574

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 18%

  • SAT Math: 630-760

  • SAT Reading: 630-720


Located just outside of San Francisco in Berkeley, UC-Berkeley is the second oldest university in the University of California system. The university is highly competitive, with an 18.3 percent admission rate. It is known for its top-notch business school, research opportunities, and activism. Ten percent of students are from foreign countries and 18 percent are from out of state. The most popular majors include economics, computer science, and cellular biology.



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3. University of California-Davis

  • Tuition and fees: $42,433 out-of-state / $14,419 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 30,066

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 5%

  • SAT Math: 570-700

  • SAT Reading: 560-660


The UC-Davis campus is located 15 miles outside of Sacramento. The campus contains an airport, an arboretum, and a collection of bronze sculptures known as Eggheads. The university is also well-known for its commitment to sustainability. Some of the most popular majors at UC-Davis are business/managerial economics, economics, and research and experimental psychology. Although only 5 percent of undergraduates are from out of state, 16 percent come from foreign countries.



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2. University of California-Santa Barbara

  • Tuition and fees: $42,465 out-of-state / $14,451 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 22,186

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 6%

  • SAT Math: 590-720

  • SAT Reading: 600-680


The most expensive branch of the University of California system, UC-Santa Barbara charges $42,465 per year for students who do not reside in California. With such a hefty price tag, only 6 percent of students are from out of state. The campus setting is suburban and located about two hours north of Los Angeles. Sociology, experimental psychology, and econometrics and quantitative economics are the most popular majors.



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1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

  • Tuition and fees: $47,476 out-of-state / $14,826 in-state

  • Undergraduate enrollment: 29,821

  • Percentage of undergraduates from out-of-state: 44%

  • SAT Math: 670-770

  • SAT Reading: 660-730


Topping the list of the most expensive public universities for out-of-state residents is the University of Michigan. Despite the high price tag of $47,476 per year, 44 percent of undergraduate students are from out of state. The most popular majors are computer science, business, and economics. Outside of its stellar academics, much of university life centers around athletics, especially football and basketball. The University of Michigan is a Big Ten school, and its football team is the winningest program in the history of college football, according to the NCAA.


Methodology

Unless otherwise noted, all educational statistics (including those used in the school descriptions) are from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES-IPEDS). All statistics are either for Fall 2017 or for the 2017-2018 school year, the most recent data available. Only public, four-year colleges and universities were considered. For correlation analyses, only those universities with no missing values for any variable were evaluated.


Schools were grouped into the following categories based on undergraduate enrollment:

  • Large schools: more than 20,000 students

  • Midsize schools: 5,000 - 20,000 students

  • Small schools: less than 5,000 students







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