Cheap Out-of-State Colleges: Top 24 Most Affordable


If you’re hoping to be far from home for college but are worried about the cost of an

out-of-state school

, you might run into some issues in the application process.

How do you find out-of-state schools that still offer relatively cheap tuition?

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of schools that offer the lowest tuition rates and highest rates of institutional aid to out-of-state students. Keep reading to learn what these schools are!

What Are Cheap Out-of-State Colleges?

First off, it’s important to keep in mind that public colleges are the only schools where the moniker “out-of-state” will have any meaning for you tuition-wise.

Public colleges usually offer far higher tuition rates for out-of-state students than they do for in-state students

, whereas private colleges aren’t concerned with students’ residential statuses.


you’ll only see public colleges on this list

(in other words, schools whose tuition price would be affected based on whether or not you live in the state).

I decided that the cutoff for “cheap” colleges would be

schools with tuition and fees lower than $16,000

. Currently, the

average public school tuition and fees for out-of-state residents is $26,820

, and I wanted to pick schools that cost significantly less than average for students hoping to attend from out of state.

I’ve included the cost for room and board at each of these schools

because tuition and fees are often


than the price of room and board. I’m hoping this will give you a better idea of the real cost of attending these colleges.

I’ll also provide statistics on

how much aid is typically offered to students at each college

so you can see how generous these schools are in helping out students who can’t afford to pay full tuition.

Finally, I’ve included stats for admission rates and enrollment to help you get a better idea of the size and competitiveness of these schools.

I did


include schools with open enrollment

, so these colleges all have some degree of competitiveness (even if their acceptance rates are 90%+).

The 24 Cheapest Out-of-State Colleges

These schools are

listed in order of net cost from lowest to highest

(based on

tuition and fees


room and board—average annual institutional aid

). Though some schools might have higher tuition prices, they make up for it by offering generous financial aid to students.

Note that some schools did not provide info on average financial aid packages for students;

this does not necessarily mean that these schools don’t offer any aid to students


All data below comes from the College Board, and

all costs are for fall 2020



Tuition & Fees

Room & Board

Avg. Aid Package

Net Price

Acceptance Rate

Undergrad Enrollment

Minot State University
$7,896 $7,215 $10,173 $4,938 74% 2,832

Delta State University
$8,121 $7,985 $10,250 $5,856 94% 3,109

West Texas A&M University
$10,672 $7,749 $10,900 $7,521 69% 7,355

Central State University
$8,726 $10,480 $11,352 $7,854 57% 2,033

Southern Arkansas University
$14,020 $6,724 $12,673 $8,071 70% 3,585

Southwest Minnesota State University
$8,908 $8,892 $9,483 $8,317 64% 6,525

Harris-Stowe State University
$10,116 $9,491 $11,146 $8,461 52% 1,630

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
$15,400 $7,980 $14,379 $9,001 72% 2,206

Midwestern State University
$11,531 $9,504 $11,505 $9,530 71% 5,226

Southeastern Oklahoma State University
$16,150 $5,990 $12,408 $9,732 74% 3,135

University of Southern Mississippi
$10,896 $9,638 $10,772 $9,762 97% 11,594

Alcorn State University
$7,907 $9,993 $7,581 $10,319 58% 3,068

Henderson State University
$11,641 $8,558 $9,279 $10,920 91% 3,000

University of Texas of the Permian Basin
$15,461 $9,846 $14,102 $11,205 79% 4,347

University of Minnesota Morris
$15,632 $8,632 $12,805 $11,459 57% 1,499

Dakota State University
$12,606 $7,148 $7,882 $11,757 77% 2,818

University of Nebraska at Kearney
$15,320 $10,322 $12,175 $11,872 85% 4,429

Truman State University
$15,659 $9,185 $12,911 $11,933 63% 4,939

Southwestern Oklahoma State University
$14,595 $6,030 $6,891 $13,734 91% 4,092

Mississippi Valley State University
$6,746 $7,437 $14,183 90% 1,833

Arkansas Tech University
$16,545 $8,472 $10,570 $14,447 95% 11,015

Oklahoma Panhandle State University
$8,958 $6,026 $14,984 93% 1,244

Rogers State University
$16,200 $8,084 $9,685 $15,339 89% 3,583

Youngstown State University
$15,656 $9,700 $9,566 $15,790 68% 11,001


LSU Alexandria looking pretty.



/Wikimedia Commons)

Why Are These Colleges So Cheap for Out-of-State Students?

Why are the tuition prices on this list so low? For a significant number of these schools, there is no difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. With the increasing level of competitiveness in higher education,

less well-known schools are using low prices to entice students to attend


The affordability of a college education has become a huge concern as

tuition prices continue to rise at most schools


The best way for more obscure schools to increase their viability in the higher education market is to lower their price tags.

This gets them on lists of “best value” schools (like this one!) and leads to a strong reputation for caring about the financial struggles of students.

Some of these schools are simply dedicated to reducing the impact of financial concerns on those who choose to attend their college

, whether they’re in state or out of state. For example,

Delta State University charges the same tuition rate for all students

regardless of their residential status, stating that, “These rates are established to increase financial equity, reduce the impact of financial considerations on educational policy and increase uniformity across the university.”

A Final Word: Remember, It’s Not All About Cost

After seeing the low price tags on all these schools, you might be tempted to forgo your other priorities in favor of a loan-free future. However,

there are many factors to consider besides cost in the college search process


Even if you know it will be difficult for you to pay for college, many schools offer generous financial aid packages to those with demonstrated need.

Avoid sacrificing your preferences for location, academic programs, and campus life just so you can spend less money on college.

Before you make a decision based on how expensive a school is,

think about the following


  • How big the school is

    and whether you think you’ll prefer a large or small environment

  • Where the school is located in the country

    and whether it lines up with how far away from home you want to be
  • The school’s

    program strengths

    and whether they align with your own interests—what opportunities do you want to have available to you in college?
  • The

    social scene

    —do you want to be at a

    party school

    or one that caters toward smaller gatherings? Are you interested in Greek life at all?

  • Overall quality of academics

    based on its admissions rate and student feedback
  • The environment beyond the campus—do you prefer

    a large city or a small town


Once you’ve made up your mind about these key factors, you can move on to comparing schools based on financial criteria. It’s OK to compromise on some things, but

be sure you know what’s most important to


so you end up with the best possible college experience


If you’re not sure where to start and need more specific advice, read

our step-by-step guide to the college search process

. You can also look at

some highly reviewed college search websites

to learn more information about schools that interest you.

What’s Next?

Still not sure what you’re looking for in a college?

Read our articles on

whether you should go to a school close to home


whether you should attend a large or small college


Application fees are the first hurdle you’ll have to overcome when paying for college.

Take a look at

this list of colleges that don’t charge any application fees

to see whether you might be able to save some money in the application process.

Many of the schools on this list have fairly small student bodies. Read this article to


what you should expect from a small college environment

and to figure out whether it’s really the best choice for you.

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