Special Report

How Much College Students Should Set Aside For Groceries This Year in Every State

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If you have spent any time grocery shopping in the past year, then you already know that food is getting more expensive. Inflation has been hitting just about everyone’s pocketbooks, and it is especially troublesome for college students. 

The price of going to college has increased dramatically in recent decades. Over the past 50 years, the average cost of tuition has risen at nearly five times the rate of inflation, according to 2020 data from the nonprofit group College Board. And textbooks and other necessary college expenses are not getting any cheaper. (Here are colleges with the biggest tuition hikes.)

On top of that, the price of food has skyrocketed over the past year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, grocery prices soared a whopping 13.1% between August 2021 and August 2022, with prices for basic commodities like eggs up 38%. Similarly, the price of flour was up 22.7%, chicken 17.6%, and milk 15.6%. The reasons behind this inflation are manifold, from avian flu in the U.S. affecting eggs to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affecting wheat exports.

The average American spends about $402 per month on groceries, and college students tend to spend about 27% less per month on groceries than the average adult, according to online education publication My eLearning World. Of course, considering that the cost of living is different in each state, a student in California would spend a different amount from a student in Mississippi.

To find the 20 most expensive states for college students to buy groceries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed My eLearning World’s list, Here’s How Much More College Students Will Spend on Groceries This School Year. The site used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the average grocery cost for college students in each state. 

24/7 Wall St. listed additional data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The additional data includes total fall enrollment in each state in degree-granting postsecondary institutions for the 2020 school year, the most recent year available. Two more measures are the average cost, including tuition, required fees, room, and board, for the 2020-2021 school year at four-year private universities and at public institutions for in-state students. The costs listed are prior to student aid. 

On average, based on My eLearning World’s calculations, college students will spend about $294 per month on groceries this year, or $2,352 for a full school year – about $270 more than they spent last year.

Being a college student has never been especially cheap, but with just about all prices — from tuition to housing to groceries — it has never been more expensive. (To help students with some of the costs, here are colleges that promise zero student debt.)

Here’s what college students can expect to pay on groceries this year in every state, from least to most expensive.

50. New Hampshire
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $787
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $29,103 — 10th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $29,222 — 2nd highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 188,545 — 19th lowest

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49. Kansas
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,493
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $35,339 — 15th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,082 — 16th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 193,119 — 21st lowest

48. Idaho
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,674
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $15,180 — the lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $16,518 — 4th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 122,997 — 13th lowest

47. Utah
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,683 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $15,911 — 2nd lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $14,653 — 2nd lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 395,572 — 16th highest

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46. Arkansas
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,683 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $33,614 — 12th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $18,262 — 13th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 149,294 — 16th lowest

45. South Dakota
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,719
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $35,229 — 14th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $17,177 — 7th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 50,849 — 5th lowest

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44. Texas
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,728
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $49,884 — 15th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $18,325 — 14th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 1,601,399 — 2nd highest

43. Nevada
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,782
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $40,241 — 23rd lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $18,065 — 12th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 116,660 — 12th lowest

42. Virginia
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,828
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $35,404 — 16th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $25,761 — 9th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 555,755 — 10th highest

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41. Arizona
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,873
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,862 — 4th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,681 — 12th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 600,103 — 8th highest

40. New Mexico
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,918
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $36,770 — 18th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $17,113 — 6th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 110,095 — 11th lowest

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39. Missouri
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,963
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $38,798 — 21st lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,394 — 20th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 342,618 — 20th highest

38. Kentucky
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $1,982
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $36,275 — 17th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,317 — 19th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 261,413 — 25th highest

37. Indiana
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,009
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $48,211 — 17th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $20,572 — 23rd lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 410,949 — 14th highest

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36. Montana
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,063
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $41,908 — 23rd highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $16,931 — 5th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 45,461 — 4th lowest

35. Louisiana
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,072
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $55,526 — 9th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $20,031 — 22nd lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 243,507 — 25th lowest

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34. Illinois
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,090 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $49,783 — 16th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $26,252 — 7th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 681,988 — 5th highest

33. Michigan
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,090 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $41,790 — 25th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,777 — 11th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 490,081 — 12th highest

32. Colorado
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,090 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $36,878 — 19th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,288 — 20th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 362,267 — 18th highest

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31. North Dakota
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,090 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,624 — 5th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $18,057 — 11th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 51,308 — 6th lowest

30. Nebraska
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,181
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $34,984 — 13th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,352 — 19th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 135,026 — 14th lowest

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29. Ohio
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,217 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $47,535 — 18th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,860 — 17th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 654,555 — 7th highest

28. North Carolina
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,217 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $49,893 — 14th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $17,779 — 9th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 557,673 — 9th highest

27. Connecticut
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,235
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $58,707 — 5th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $28,425 — 3rd highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 186,717 — 18th lowest

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26. New Jersey
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,244 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $52,442 — 13th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $28,335 — 4th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 392,343 — 17th highest

25. Maryland
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,244 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $58,134 — 8th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,380 — 18th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 348,054 — 19th highest

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24. Tennessee
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,262 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $41,411 — 24th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $20,639 — 24th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 316,270 — 23rd highest

23. Wyoming
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,262 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: N/A
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $14,584 — the lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 30,943 — 2nd lowest

22. Iowa
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,271 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $45,382 — 21st highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,788 — 21st lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 208,220 — 23rd lowest

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21. Oklahoma
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,271 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $39,822 — 22nd lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $17,283 — 8th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 189,214 — 20th lowest

20. Florida
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,425
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $41,843 — 24th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $15,543 — 3rd lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 1,027,331 — 4th highest

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19. California
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,488
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $53,680 — 12th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,015 — 15th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 2,579,991 — the highest

18. Maine
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,497
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $53,955 — 11th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $20,677 — 25th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 69,838 — 9th lowest

17. Oregon
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,524
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $58,711 — 4th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,517 — 13th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 203,759 — 22nd lowest

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16. Delaware
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,570
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $25,743 — 6th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,862 — 10th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 58,678 — 7th lowest

15. Wisconsin
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,624
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $47,063 — 19th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $17,875 — 10th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 318,858 — 22nd highest

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14. Rhode Island
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,660
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $61,692 — 3rd highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $26,946 — 6th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 77,087 — 10th lowest

13. Minnesota
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,705
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $45,775 — 20th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $21,858 — 23rd highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 395,705 — 15th highest

12. Alabama
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,723 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $27,966 — 7th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $20,993 — 25th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 292,181 — 24th highest

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11. Vermont
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,723 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $63,371 — 2nd highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $30,752 — the highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 39,646 — 3rd lowest

10. Georgia
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,732
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $43,626 — 22nd highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $18,711 — 15th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 547,389 — 11th highest

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9. Pennsylvania
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,760
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $58,356 — 7th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $26,040 — 8th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 667,515 — 6th highest

8. Washington
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,769
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $54,047 — 10th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $21,027 — 24th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 334,059 — 21st highest

7. Massachusetts
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,805
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $65,784 — the highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $28,317 — 5th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 473,731 — 13th highest

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6. South Carolina
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,850
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $37,629 — 20th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $23,181 — 16th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 235,009 — 24th lowest

5. Mississippi
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,959
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $28,263 — 8th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,221 — 17th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 163,054 — 17th lowest

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4. West Virginia
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $2,995
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,303 — 3rd lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $19,312 — 18th lowest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 137,742 — 15th lowest

3. New York
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $3,502 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $58,423 — 6th highest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $24,231 — 14th highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 1,182,412 — 3rd highest

2. Alaska
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $3,502 — tied
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $28,362 — 9th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,185 — 21st highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 22,106 — the lowest

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1. Hawaii
> Est. college student grocery costs, 2022-23 school year: $4,171
> 2020-21 Avg. private college tuition, fees, room and board: $32,948 — 11th lowest
> 2020-21 Avg. in-state public college tuition, fees, room and board: $22,012 — 22nd highest
> Fall 2020 College enrollment: 59,693 — 8th lowest

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