Special Report

The States with the Most (and Least) Affordable Colleges

The States with the Least Affordable Colleges

10. Washington
> Average tuition and fees: $10,811
> Pct. 5 year change: 58.2% (3rd highest)
> Pct. students in-state: 84% (9th highest)
> Cost of out of state: $25,189 (14th highest)

Between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, average published tuition in Washington decreased slightly. However, over a five-year period, tuition and fees went up by nearly 60%, one of the largest spikes in the country. The University of Washington increased its tuition by even more — 69% — over the same period. Located in Seattle, the school is one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast, and known as a cutting-edge research university. U.S. News & World Report rated the school 16th among all public universities. According to reports from earlier this year, rising tuition has come from massive cuts in state higher-education spending.

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9. Rhode Island
> Average tuition and fees: $10,922
> Pct. 5 year change: 33.1% (13th highest)
> Pct. students in-state: 44% (2nd lowest)
> Cost of out of state: $26,646 (8th highest)

Tuition and fees at public universities has declined by 2% from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014 for in-state students. In July, Rhode Island passed a budget that froze tuition by allocating $6 million to state schools, according to the Providence Journal. However, Rhode Island remains one of the most expensive states in the nation for college students. Not only in-state students face a high cost of attendance at Rhode Island’s public universities. Out of state students pay more than $26,000 on average to attend the state’s schools. These students accounted for 56% of the all first-time freshmen at public universities this year, trailing only Vermont.

8. South Carolina
> Average tuition and fees: $11,138
> Pct. 5 year change: 14.8% (11th lowest)
> Pct. students in-state: 79% (22nd lowest)
> Cost of out of state: $27,198 (6th highest)

At the University of South Carolina, students from out of state pay more than twice what state residents pay — $28,528 compared with $10,816. Another South Carolina university, Clemson is more expensive for all students, but is among the top 25 public schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Median household income in South Carolina was relatively low at $43,107 in 2012, just ahead of Louisiana and Tennessee. Despite low incomes and the high cost of higher education in South Carolina, college attendance is up. Over a 10-year period, South Carolina saw one of the highest increases in full-time enrollment at public institutions, up 36.8% between 2001 and 2011.

7. Delaware
> Average tuition and fees: $11,261
> Pct. 5 year change: 27.9% (19th highest)
> Pct. students in-state: 60% (6th lowest)
> Cost of out of state: $27,818 (4th highest)

While the cost of attending a public four-year university in Delaware is among the highest in the nation, attending a private university in the state is actually quite inexpensive. On average, tuition at a four-year, private non-profit university is just $14,407, fourth-lowest in the nation. Additionally, while the cost of attending a public university in the state is high, just 60% of students at these schools are state residents, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Out-of-state students spend quite a bit to attend Delaware’s public schools, paying an average of $27,818 in tuition plus fees. Also, while the cost of a public education is high, Delaware’s residents are among the wealthiest in the nation, with a median household income of over $58,000 last year.

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6. Michigan
> Average tuition and fees: $11,600
> Pct. 5 year change: 19.6% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. students in-state: 91% (4th highest)
> Cost of out of state: $31,463 (2nd highest)

University of Michigan students who are not state residents pay a $25,715 premium, resulting in the highest tuition and fees in the country. Even though the cost may be worth it — U.S. News ranks the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor fourth among public universities — most university students in Michigan are state residents. In the fall of 2011, there were over 400,000 full-time students enrolled in two- or four-year institutions, among the highest enrollment in the U.S. According to MLive, the state’s higher education budget has dropped by over 11% since Governor Rick Snyder was elected. As of 2011, Michigan spent under $4,000 per public fully enrolled student, one of the lowest figures in the nation.

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