The Best Colleges in America with Tuition Under $10,000 a Year

Think you know how much college costs? Think again. Both prospective students and their parents underestimated the average cost of attendance at a four-year public school by about $5,000, according to the 2018 Allianz Tuition Insurance College Confidence Index.

Students and their parents estimated tuition, fees, room, and board would cost a little over $15,000 a year. But the actual cost is $20,770, according to the College Board. The average price tag for an out-of-state student or at a private school is even higher — $36,420 and $46,950, respectively.

Numbers like that are enough to make any parent or hopeful undergrad despair. But there are ways to keep the cost of college down. Some students save by attending lower-cost community colleges, then transferring to four-year schools. Certain private schools have generous aid programs that aim to let all students graduate debt-free. And others keep costs low overall.

While college costs are on the rise, some schools still have relatively affordable tuition. And you don’t have to sacrifice a quality education to get it. We combed through the latest ranking from U.S. News & World Report, these are 10 of the best colleges you can attend that cost less than $10,000 a year in tuition and fees.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

South Building on the campus of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill | Ryan Herron/iStock/Getty Images
  • Tuition and fees: $8,986 (in-state)

UNC landed in the No. 30 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best national universities. For students from North Carolina, tuition is $8,986. But out-of-state students who want to become Tar Heels will pay considerably more — $35,986. The acceptance rate is 24%.


  • Tuition and fees: $8,651 (in-state)

SUNY-Geneseo, a public, four-year school in New York, costs just under $9,000 a year for in-state students. It’s ranked No. 14 among regional universities in the North and was also No. 1 for undergraduate teaching among schools in the region.

Truman State University

  • Tuition and fees: $7,656 (in-state)

U.S. News ranks this medium-sized public, four-year school in Kirksville, Missouri, No. 9 among regional Midwest colleges. Tuition is just under $8,000 for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay $14,440.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

  • Tuition and fees: $7,411

This small public university – enrollment is just 2,428 – in Butte, Montana, is No. 5 among regional colleges of the West, according to U.S. News. In-state tuition is just under $7,500 a year, and the school has a high job placement rate.

Appalachian State University

  • Tuition and fees: $7,303

This public university in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina costs $7,303 a year for in-state students. It’s ranked in the top 10 of regional universities in the South and is also the No. 5 best college for veterans in the region, according to U.S. News.

California State University – Maritime Academy

  • Tuition and fees: $7,056 (in-state)

The smallest school in California’s public university system, the Cal State Maritime Academy in Vallejo has just over 1,000 students who pay about $7,000 a year in tuition if they’re in-state. Majors are offered in subjects like mechanical engineering and marine transportation, and the school has the highest job placement rate of all the Cal State schools. It’s ranked No. 3 among regional colleges in the West.

University of Florida

  • Tuition and fees: $6,381

Undergraduate tuition at Florida’s flagship state university in Gainesville is $6,381 a year. Out-of-state students pay $28,658 a year. It’s No. 35 on the U.S. News ranking of national universities. The acceptance rate is 42%.

Brigham Young University, Provo

  • Tuition and fees: $5,620

BYU is one of the most affordable private universities in the country. The school is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and church members pay lower tuition than non-members, though tuition for the latter group is still relatively affordable. It’s No. 66 among national universities. The university’s campuses in Idaho and Hawaii charge similar tuition.

Berea College

  • Tuition and fees: $560

No, that’s not a typo. Tuition and fees at Berea College really are just $560 a year. Even when you factor in room and board, which costs $6,764, this small, private school (ranked No. 61 among national liberal arts colleges) is cheaper than many public universities. The school is one of just a handful of work colleges in the U.S., and students are required to work 10 to 15 hours per week on campus to help offset the cost of their education.

United States Military Academy

west point cadets
Cadets at West Point | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Tuition and fees: $0

The United States Military Academy – better known as West Point – isn’t like other schools on this list. One of five federal service academies, you pay nothing to attend West Point, but all graduates serve five years as officers in the U.S. Army after completing their education. The highly competitive institution is ranked No. 18 among national liberal arts colleges.

The other service academies – the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, and Merchant Marine Academy – also offer a no- or low-cost education in exchange for a commitment to serve, and are all highly ranked by U.S. News.

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