Student loan debt, the second largest consumer debt category in the United States after home mortgages, hit an all time high of $1.4 trillion in 2019. The financial burden posed by outstanding student loans is largely due to climbing tuition costs.
In the 1999-2000 academic year, the average annual cost of attending a four-year institution was $33,060 at private schools and $12,440 at public schools. As of 2019, average costs hit $49,870 at private schools and $21,950 at public schools, a 51% and 76% increase, respectively.
While the growing student debt crisis is contributing to annual declines in college enrollment, a four-year college education does not have to mean a lifetime of paying off student loans. Across the country, there are schools with relatively low tuition costs, where graduates typically go on to secure well-paying jobs upon graduation.
Using data from the from the U.S. Department of Education, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a range of data at over 6,000 colleges and universities, including tuition costs, graduate employment rates, student debt repayment, and median salaries after enrollment, to identify the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state.
Public schools tend to have lower tuition and therefore more affordable to a broader range of prospective students than private schools, and not surprisingly, the majority of institutions on this list are public. Additionally, most of the schools on this list are not especially selective. Of the 50 schools on this list, only a handful admit fewer than half of all applicants. Here is a look at the hardest colleges to get into.
Of course, while deciding on which school to attend can have an impact on employment and salary prospects in future years, choosing a school may not be as impactful as choosing a field of study. The median salary for majors in some fields is as much as four times higher as the median salary for those who major in other subjects. Here is a list of the highest — and lowest — paying college majors in America.
Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, the images used for Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington did not depict the school listed for that state. The error has been corrected.