The states with the highest—and lowest—average tuition

Cost varies widely across the nation

The cost of attendance at public institutions varies by thousands of dollars from state to state, according to an analysis by Trade-Schools.net.

Researchers compared data from the College Board on the average tuition by state for resident and nonresident students.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the average tuition for a single year of college at a public institution was $23,893 for out-of-state students and $9,410 for in-state students.

But those averages hide a wide degree of variation from state to state.

For out-of-state public tuition:

  • The most expensive states are Vermont, Michigan, Connecticut, Virginia, and Delaware, with costs ranging from $29,250 to $35,710; and
  • The least expensive states are South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, and Minnesota, with costs ranging from $10,510 to $18,580.

For in-state public tuition:

  • The most expensive states are New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois, with costs ranging from $13,190 to $15,160; and
  • The least expensive states are Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Florida, and Utah, with costs ranging from $4,890 to $6,360.

Trade-schools.net also suggests several contextual factors that help explain tuition prices in each state, such as:

  • Higher general costs of living in certain states, like Connecticut;
  • Whether the school is located in the South (less expensive) or the North (more expensive); and
  • Whether the school is in a rural setting (less expensive) or an urban setting (more expensive).

(O'Connell, The Street, 1/9; Trade-schools.net, accessed 1/12). 

It's important for students to get the facts about affordability


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