The states with the highest—and lowest—average tuition

College Board recently published its report on the average 2017-2018 tuition by state for resident and nonresident students.

We analyzed the data from College Board and found that the cost of attendance at public four-year institutions varies by thousands of dollars from state to state.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the average tuition for a single year of college at a public institution was $25,370 for out-of-state students and $9,928 for in-state students, according to our calculations.

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

For in-state public tuition:

  • The most expensive states are New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois, with costs ranging from $13,620 to $16,070; and
  • The least expensive states are Wyoming, Florida, Utah, Montana, and New Mexico, with costs ranging from $5,220 to $6,920.

For out-of-state public tuition:

  • The most expensive states are Vermont, Michigan, Virginia, California, and South Carolina, with costs ranging from $38,990 to $31,350; and
  • The least expensive states are South Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, North Dakota, and New York, with costs ranging from $12,480 to $19,500.

Tuition prices may vary between states due to factors like different costs of living between states as well as between urban and rural areas.

Also see: The 10 states where tuition feels most expensive

Since 2011, the price of tuition has risen for public four-year universities each year, finds College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2017 report. And across the last decade, in-state tuition for public four-year universities has risen at an average rate of 3.2%, College Board reports.

And as tuition prices rise, many colleges and universities face increased public scrutiny around costs, writes Megan Adams, an academic affairs expert at EAB. Detractors have been quick to blame the so-called “amenities arms race” for the ballooning costs. In reality, the main driver of college costs is one of higher education’s core functions: teaching students, Adams explains. Institutions spend more per student on instruction than on any other category of expenses, she adds (College Board report, accessed 1/19).

Read more: Why it's important for students to get the facts about affordability


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