Special Report

Most Expensive States to Get a College Education

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The economic impact of the pandemic paused the relentless increase in college costs in the 2020-2021 school year. That ended this year, as university costs resumed their march higher. For states where a college education was already steep, a university education creeped up again. (This is the cost of college the year you were born.)

To determine the 26 most expensive states to get a college education, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Global Student Costs, a report compiled by DealA, a Singapore-based free coupon website for online shoppers. DealA used several college-related cost data, such as tuition fees and dormitory cost, from several sources, to arrive at an overall student cost score, with those with lower scores being more expensive.

According to U.S. News data, the average cost of tuition and fees to attend a public college in-state is $10,388 for the 2021-2022 year, about 73% less than the average sticker price at a private college at $38,185. The average cost for out-of-state students at public colleges is $22,698.

The five most expensive states on the list — Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire — are all in New England. All of those states, except for Vermont, are home to Ivy League universities, among the most prestigious, and costliest, in the nation. (These are the most and least educated states.)

Vermont is the costliest state in two categories, public tuition fees and private tuition fees, leading to the lowest overall student score, indicating it is the costliest state to get a college education.. Public tuition fees at Vermont schools are more than $4,000 higher than those schools in No. 2 Rhode Island. Private tuition fees at colleges in the Green Mountain State are more than $3,000 higher than the institutions at runner-up Massachusetts.

New York has the costliest room and board at its colleges, setting students and their families back $10,180. Hawaii has by far the highest cost of living score at 193.3, more than 45 points higher than second-place New York.

Click here to see the most expensive states to get a college education
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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26. (tie) Illinois
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 94.3
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,143
> Public tuition fees: $11,523
> Private tuition fees: $22,053
> Overall student cost score: 5.1/10

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25. (tie) Wisconsin
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 96.4
> Average cost of student accommodation: $5,497
> Public tuition fees: $11,394
> Private tuition fees: $26,421
> Overall student cost score: 5.1/10

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24. Ohio
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 91.3
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,869
> Public tuition fees: $12,024
> Private tuition fees: $20,779
> Overall student cost score: 5/10

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23. Alaska
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 127.1
> Average cost of student accommodation: $5,843
> Public tuition fees: $15,412
> Private tuition fees: $14,086
> Overall student cost score: 4.75/10

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22. (tie) Indiana
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 90.6
> Average cost of student accommodation: $5,634
> Public tuition fees: $21,753
> Private tuition fees: $22,375
> Overall student cost score: 4.64/10

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21. (tie) South Carolina
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 93.6
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,399
> Public tuition fees: $15,574
> Private tuition fees: $19,163
> Overall student cost score: 4.64/10

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20. Kentucky
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 93.1
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,156
> Public tuition fees: $17,391
> Private tuition fees: $19,314
> Overall student cost score: 4.59/10

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19. Colorado
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 105.3
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,541
> Public tuition fees: $16,246
> Private tuition fees: $17,431
> Overall student cost score: 4.08/10

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18. Washington
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 111.6
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,725
> Public tuition fees: $11,513
> Private tuition fees: $21,522
> Overall student cost score: 3.93/10

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17. Nevada
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 106.3
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,358
> Public tuition fees: $16,478
> Private tuition fees: $18,584
> Overall student cost score: 3.88/10

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16. (tie) Arizona
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 103.2
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,610
> Public tuition fees: $12,256
> Private tuition fees: $19,745
> Overall student cost score: 3.78/10

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15. (tie) Delaware
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 107.9
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,906
> Public tuition fees: $17,054
> Private tuition fees: $14,819
> Overall student cost score: 3.78/10

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14. (tie) Maine
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 115
> Average cost of student accommodation: $5,323
> Public tuition fees: $14,356
> Private tuition fees: $30,946
> Overall student cost score: 3.52/10

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13. (tie) Virginia
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 101.8
> Average cost of student accommodation: $6,390
> Public tuition fees: $18,133
> Private tuition fees: $19,572
> Overall student cost score: 3.52/10

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12. Hawaii
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 193.3
> Average cost of student accommodation: $5,785
> Public tuition fees: $13,411
> Private tuition fees: $22,777
> Overall student cost score: 3.16/10

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11. New Jersey
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 115.2
> Average cost of student accommodation: $9,052
> Public tuition fees: $13,967
> Private tuition fees: $19,158
> Overall student cost score: 3.01/10

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10. Pennsylvania
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 102.5
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,127
> Public tuition fees: $17,931
> Private tuition fees: $25,596
> Overall student cost score: 2.19/10

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9. Maryland
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 124
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,305
> Public tuition fees: $14,873
> Private tuition fees: $23,599
> Overall student cost score: 2.14/10

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8. California
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 142.2
> Average cost of student accommodation: $8,426
> Public tuition fees: $12,419
> Private tuition fees: $22,718
> Overall student cost score: 2.09/10

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7. (tie) New York
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 148.2
> Average cost of student accommodation: $10,180
> Public tuition fees: $14,314
> Private tuition fees: $22,378
> Overall student cost score: 1.68/10

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6. (tie) Oregon
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 130.1
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,573
> Public tuition fees: $16,467
> Private tuition fees: $22,954
> Overall student cost score: 1.68/10

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5. New Hampshire
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 109.9
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,480
> Public tuition fees: $19,727
> Private tuition fees: $26,306
> Overall student cost score: 1.63/10

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4. Connecticut
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 121.6
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,491
> Public tuition fees: $17,907
> Private tuition fees: $27,294
> Overall student cost score: 1.33/10

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3. (tie) Massachusetts
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 135
> Average cost of student accommodation: $8,587
> Public tuition fees: $15,747
> Private tuition fees: $32,039
> Overall student cost score: 0.92/10

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2. (tie) Rhode Island
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 117.2
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,858
> Public tuition fees: $24,171
> Private tuition fees: $28,620
> Overall student cost score: 0.92/10

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1. Vermont
> Cost of living index score (US=100): 117
> Average cost of student accommodation: $7,980
> Public tuition fees: $28,793
> Private tuition fees: $35,484
> Overall student cost score: 0.67/10

Methodology

To determine the most expensive states to get a college education, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Global Student Costs, a report compiled by DealA, a Singapore-based free coupon website for online shoppers. 

DealA sourced the cost of living index for each state as of 2021 from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The U.S.’s cost of living is 100, and lower index values mean lower cost of living and vice versa. The average cost of public and private college tuition for the academic year 2021-2022 in each state was sourced from College Tuition Compare. The average annual cost of a college dormitory room for full-time students at degree-granting postsecondary institutions is for the academic year 2018-19 and was sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics.

DealA gave each state a normalized score out of 10 points for each of the criteria, then calculated the average score out of 10 for each one to arrive at an overall student cost score, with those with higher scores being less expensive.

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