2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in Florida

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public colleges and universities also rank highly among the best institutions in many states, Florida included.

Public institutions receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in Florida

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

This site is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Showing 30 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL

    Graduation Rate

    89%

    Enrollment

    53,372

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4477

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $25694

    A public institution located in Gainesville, Florida, University of Florida offers multiple programs. The school grants accredited degrees that prepare learners for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $ 11067, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $ 10075. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, enrollees complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of Florida holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #2

    Florida State University

    Tallahassee, FL

    Graduation Rate

    84%

    Enrollment

    43,569

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4640

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19084

    Located in Tallahassee, Florida, Florida State University educates college students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps students reach their career goals. Undergraduates complete lower-division and upper-division coursework to earn a bachelor's degree. Undergraduates also complete general education classes. Upper-division classes emphasize advanced concepts within the major. The school supports students with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. At the accredited institution, learners qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Florida State University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #3

    University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL

    Graduation Rate

    74%

    Enrollment

    71,881

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4478

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19810

    Located in Orlando, Florida, University of Central Florida often ranks among the best schools. The college offers multiple degree-granting programs. The programs offer academic and technical tracks to help learners meet their career goals. At the school, students typically complete an associate degree in two years, a bachelor's degree in four years, a master's degree in 1-2 years, or a doctoral degree in 3-7 years. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Financial aid helps degree-seekers pay for their education. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #4

    University of Florida-Online

    Gainesville, FL

    Graduation Rate

    75%

    Enrollment

    4,407

    Format

    Online

    In-State Tuition

    $3358

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $15000

    From its campus in Gainesville, Florida, University of Florida-Online grants college degrees as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The school supports enrollees with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Learners at the accredited school can pay for their educational costs with federal student aid programs. University of Florida-Online holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #5

    University of South Florida

    Tampa, FL

    Graduation Rate

    74%

    Enrollment

    50,626

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4559

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $15473

    Located in Tampa, Florida, University of South Florida offers multiple programs as a public institution. The school's accredited programs prepare learners for the workforce. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. Students pay a per-credit fee of around 907 at the school. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Current students receive an average aid award of $ 10924, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $ 10004. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #6

    The University of West Florida

    Pensacola, FL

    Graduation Rate

    48%

    Enrollment

    13,061

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3735

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16004

    Located in Pensacola, Florida, The University of West Florida enrolls students as a public institution. The school's academic and technical programs help students reach a variety of professional goals. Bachelor's programs incorporate lower-division and upper-division requirements. Students also complete general education credits. In upper-division classes, undergraduates learn advanced concepts in their major. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The school charges an average of 390 per credit. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #7

    Florida International University

    Miami, FL

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    58,836

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4721

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16529

    A public institution, Florida International University grants degrees from its campus in Miami, Florida. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 94% of students receive aid, and 26% receive loans. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 67%. The admission rate is 58%. Prospective applicants can contact the admission department for more information about applying. Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #8

    Charlotte Technical College

    Port Charlotte, FL

    Graduation Rate

    98%

    Enrollment

    250

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2809

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11625

    Charlotte Technical College offers 31 certificate programs from its Florida campus. Students often complete a program in weeks or months, rather than years. These short-term credential programs enable students to gain skills quickly, spending a relatively short amount of time in school. Graduates leave programs with specific skills that may make them more marketable in the job market. The school has been accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Students with questions about the application process can contact Charlotte Technical College's admissions department. Graduates pursue careers in their field after completing a program.

    #9

    Florida Gateway College

    Lake City, FL

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    3,018

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2369

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9473

    A public institution located in Lake City, Florida, Florida Gateway College educates students through multiple programs. The school offers accredited programs that prepare learners for the workforce. The institution offers an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $6700, making the average tuition cost after aid $2930. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #10

    Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

    Tallahassee, FL

    Graduation Rate

    55%

    Enrollment

    9,184

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3152

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $14524

    A public institution, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University grants degrees from its campus in Tallahassee, Florida. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. A total of 95% of students receive financial aid and 60% take out loans at the school. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 55%. Hopeful learners can expect admission rates of 33%. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #11

    Florida Polytechnic University

    Lakeland, FL

    Graduation Rate

    50%

    Enrollment

    1,422

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3152

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $3152

    From its campus in Lakeland, Florida, Florida Polytechnic University offers multiple programs as a public institution. Enrollees complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Students receive $9364 in aid on average, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $10846. Learners at the school choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, learners complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Florida Polytechnic University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #12

    University of North Florida

    Jacksonville, FL

    Graduation Rate

    66%

    Enrollment

    16,926

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3996

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16799

    University of North Florida, a public organization located in Jacksonville, Florida, offers multiple programs. Students leave the school with an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Current students receive an average aid award of $ 9402, making the average tuition cost after aid $ 9789. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of North Florida holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #13

    South Florida State College

    Avon Park, FL

    Graduation Rate

    59%

    Enrollment

    2,710

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3135

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11829

    South Florida State College, a public institution in Avon Park, Florida, enrolls learners in multiple programs. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. Students strengthen their knowledge of the field by completing coursework. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. South Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #14

    Chipola College

    Marianna, FL

    Graduation Rate

    49%

    Enrollment

    1,943

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2365

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8195

    Located in Marianna, Florida, Chipola College enrolls students as a public institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. Students who complete an academic or technical program often enter the workforce right away. The school's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The institution reports that 92% of students receive financial aid and 0% take out loans. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 49%. The institution's admission rate is unknown at this time. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. Chipola College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #15

    New College of Florida

    Sarasota, FL

    Graduation Rate

    64%

    Enrollment

    675

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5227

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $27159

    From its campus in Sarasota, Florida, New College of Florida awards degrees and certificates as a top school. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Many schools no longer require admissions tests such as ACT or SAT. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help students apply to the school. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. New College of Florida has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #16

    Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton, FL

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    30,805

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2522

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $14374

    A public institution in Boca Raton, Florida, Florida Atlantic University offers a variety of degree-granting programs. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or a bachelor's degree. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. According to the institution, 87% of students receive aid and 31% receive loans. The institution reports a 56% graduation rate. The admission rate is 75% for incoming students. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #17

    Indian River State College

    Fort Pierce, FL

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    15,236

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2496

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9360

    From its Fort Pierce, Florida campus, Indian River State College enrolls learners in 158 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer students a challenging course of study. The school maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 25-to-1. According to the school, 69% of students receive some form of financial aid. The public school reports a 43% graduation rate. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Some programs let applicants apply without submitting test scores. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements.

    #18

    Gulf Coast State College

    Panama City, FL

    Graduation Rate

    40%

    Enrollment

    4,410

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1750

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7064

    From its campus in Panama City, Florida, Gulf Coast State College offers academic programs as a public institution. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. The programs offer an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Students receive $5016 in aid on average, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $5851. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #19

    Valencia College

    Orlando, FL

    Graduation Rate

    44%

    Enrollment

    45,949

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1984

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7933

    Located in Orlando, Florida, Valencia College operates as a public institution. Learners take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. Students who complete an academic or technical program often enter the workforce right away. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. At the accredited school, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. A total of 80% of students receive financial aid and 14% take out loans at the institution. The public school reports a 44% graduation rate. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. Valencia College has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #20

    Lake-Sumter State College

    Leesburg, FL

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    4,760

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3292

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $13276

    From its campus in Leesburg, Florida, Lake-Sumter State College offers programs as a public institution. The school's academic and technical programs help learners reach a variety of professional goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. This makes it easier to enroll. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs. Lake-Sumter State College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #21

    Palm Beach State College

    Lake Worth, FL

    Graduation Rate

    44%

    Enrollment

    26,666

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2424

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8712

    Located in Lake Worth, Florida, Palm Beach State College attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Students study with experts in many different fields. Academic and technical programs help students reach their professional goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help students apply to the school. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. Palm Beach State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #22

    Florida Gulf Coast University

    Fort Myers, FL

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    15,358

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4191

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $22328

    Florida Gulf Coast University offers programs from its campus in Fort Myers, Florida. Enrollees choose from multiple degree-granting programs. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help learners meet their professional goals. Degree-seekers typically earn an associate degree in two years, a bachelor's degree in four years, a master's degree in two, and a doctoral degree in 3-7 years. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The admissions department can provide additional resources on applying. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Florida Gulf Coast University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #23

    North Florida College

    Madison, FL

    Graduation Rate

    45%

    Enrollment

    1,181

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2280

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9180

    From its campus in Madison, Florida, North Florida College grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The school provides support such as tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. North Florida College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #24

    Saint Johns River State College

    Palatka, FL

    Graduation Rate

    42%

    Enrollment

    6,828

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2067

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8403

    A public institution in Palatka, Florida, Saint Johns River State College offers a variety of degree and certificate programs. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. The accredited institution meets the requirements for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. According to the institution, 65% of students receive aid and 8% receive loans. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 42%. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #25

    Eastern Florida State College

    Cocoa, FL

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    13,937

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1892

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7573

    Eastern Florida State College grants degrees as a public institution from its location in Cocoa, Florida. Learners take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. The cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. At the institution, 79% of students receive aid and 18% receive loans. The public institution reports a 47% graduation rate. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. Eastern Florida State College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #26

    Santa Fe College

    Gainesville, FL

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    12,607

    Format

    In-State Tuition

    $1872

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7418

    Santa Fe College enrolls learners from its Gainesville, Florida campus. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. Admission advisors can help applicants complete the process. Financial aid helps enrollees cover their educational expenses. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #27

    Miami Dade College

    Miami, FL

    Graduation Rate

    33%

    Enrollment

    46,523

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1987

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7947

    From its campus in Florida, Miami Dade College enrolls students in 179 programs. Learners enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The student-to-faculty ratio at the school is 19-to-1. According to the institution, 88% of students receive some form of financial aid. Students in the school's programs graduate at a rate of 33%. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements.

    #28

    Florida State College at Jacksonville

    Jacksonville, FL

    Graduation Rate

    40%

    Enrollment

    22,344

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2095

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7947

    Florida State College at Jacksonville grants degrees as a public institution from its location in Jacksonville, Florida. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 78% of students receive aid, and 20% receive loans. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 40%. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. Florida State College at Jacksonville holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #29

    St Petersburg College

    Clearwater, FL

    Graduation Rate

    33%

    Enrollment

    26,430

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1943

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7774

    A public institution located in Clearwater, Florida, St Petersburg College offers multiple programs. Students complete programs that prepare them for careers and professional advancement. The institution offers an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Students receive $9042 in aid on average, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $2702. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #30

    Pasco-Hernando State College

    New Port Richey, FL

    Graduation Rate

    32%

    Enrollment

    9,886

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $2297

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9272

    Located in New Port Richey, Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College educates students as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution offers coursework that gives students the chance to gain relevant knowledge and skills. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Pasco-Hernando State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Why Choose a Public College or University in Florida?

    Deciding whether to attend a private or public institution is usually one of the first steps for students trying to choose the right college.

    Some students may select a private university because they prefer smaller class sizes, allowing them to build rapport with professors. However, choosing a public or private institution often comes down to academic options and finances.

    There are 28 member colleges in the Florida College System, including 12 public four-year universities. Public colleges and universities in Florida receive government funding, which allows them to offer discounted tuition to state residents. Private colleges, on the other hand, primarily rely on tuition, donors, and private funding.

    Consequently, the average tuition rate at private, four-year colleges is usually significantly higher than at public four-year colleges. While in-state tuition is more affordable for state residents, Florida is also a member of the Academic Common Market (ACM).

    The ACM gives students the option to pursue a program of study in another state at participating ACM institutions. While most of the consortium allows student participation at undergraduate and graduate levels, Florida only allows graduate-level participation.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Florida

    Pros

    • Check Circle
      Public four-year colleges are less expensive than private colleges, especially for in-state students.
    • Check Circle
      Public four-year colleges tend to attract a more diverse student body.
    • Check Circle
      Government funding gives public colleges and universities in Florida the ability to provide various research facilities and labs.
    • Check Circle
      Public four-year colleges provide more degree program options than most private colleges.

    Cons

    • X Circle
      Private colleges and universities generally offer more financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students than public colleges.
    • X Circle
      Larger class sizes makes it more difficult for students to engage in one-on-one communication with professors.
    • X Circle
      Large class sizes can make it difficult for some students to feel engaged and motivated.
    • X Circle
      Administrative tasks like transferring credits and securing a place in popular courses can be more difficult at larger institutions.

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Universities in Florida

    There are distinct differences between nonprofit and for-profit universities. Nonprofit universities receive government funding and endowments, which they invest back into college operations. All public universities are nonprofits.

    For-profit colleges are privately owned. They operate education businesses focused on making money.

    There are 207 for-profit universities in Florida. There are both pros and cons to for-profits. These universities offer fewer admission requirements, more academic flexibility, online classes, and skills-based training.

    However, for-profit colleges can be expensive, provide fewer support services, and have lower graduation rates. Additionally, lack of accreditation can make it difficult for graduates to enter the job market. This leads to disproportionately high rates of student debt among for-profit college graduates.

    You can check a university’s website or call the school’s admissions office to determine if a university is a nonprofit or a for-profit school. This information is also available via the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in Florida?

    Tuition at the most and least expensive public institutions in Florida varies by a couple of thousand dollars for state residents.

    In 2020-2021, one of the least expensive public institution tuition and fee rates for in-state students was $2,963 at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. Among the most expensive was the New College of Florida, with in-state tuition and fees of $6,916 for 2022-2023.

    Additionally, in-state versus out-of-state tuition is significant. The average cost including tuition and required fees at public four-year colleges and universities in Florida was $4,463 for undergraduate state residents in 2019-2020. Out-of-state students paid $18,514, on average, for tuition and fees. Room and board averaged $10,774.

    Private university tuition typically remains the most expensive option for students in Florida. In 2019-2020, tuition and fees at private institutions averaged $27,381. Other costs students should consider in their budgets includetextbooks and supplies, technology fees, parking, travel, and miscellaneous expenses.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Florida

    How many public colleges and universities are there in Florida?

    There are 40 public four-year colleges and universities in Florida. Twelve of these institutions make up the State University System of Florida. The system employs over 60,000 faculty and staff and has an annual operating budget of over $8.5 billion. Florida established statewide governance in 2003 to operate, regulate, control, and manage all public four-year colleges.

    Sixty-five percent of Florida’s high school graduates begin their postsecondary education at a state college. Eighty-two percent of first-year and sophomore minority students in the state attend a school in the Florida College System.

    The best public schools in Florida offer honors and early college/dual enrollment programs. Additionally, adult learners can take college courses for personal and professional development or career preparation.

    What is the most expensive public college or university in Florida?

    New College of Florida was among the most expensive for state residents in 2022-2023, with an in-state tuition of $6,916. Also, Florida International University had an in-state undergraduate tuition of $6,168, for 2021-2022. Tuition for state residents at the most and least expensive public universities in Florida only varies by a few thousand dollars.

    However, out-of-state students pay many thousands more. For example, the cost of tuition and fees at New College of Florida for out-of-state students was $29,944 for the 2022-2023 school year.

    Student expectations, costly administrative overhead, and increasing expenses for educating and housing students contribute to the ever-increasing cost of college.

    What is the least expensive public college or university in Florida?

    In 2020-2021, the in-state tuition of $2,963 at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City was among the least expensive rates.

    However, with a tuition and fees cost of $14,984, it isn’t one of the most inexpensive public colleges annd universities in Florida for out-of-state students. Broward College in Fort Lauderdale is among the least expensive public universities for non-residents, with tuition and fees of $8,952.

    Also, remember, affordable college doesn’t only depend on tuition rates. The most and least expensive public schools in Florida offer financial aid packages that can significantly reduce the cost to attend college.

    Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can help students qualify for various financial aid packages.

    What is the biggest public college or university in Florida?

    While public four-year colleges typically have larger campuses and more students, there are both big and small public schools in Florida.

    The University of Central Florida (UCF) leads the state, with a 2021 fall enrollment of 70,406 students. UCF offers 106 bachelor’s degree programs, 95 master’s degree programs, and 31 research doctorate programs.

    UCF also has an accredited College of Medicine and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. What’s more, the number of incoming National Merit Scholars ranked UCF among the top 25 universities in the country. The college has an operating budget of $2.1 billion, and UCF researchers received $211 million in funding for fiscal year 2021.

    Is a public university right for me?

    Ultimately, a quality education, student academic services, and financial aid opportunities are top reasons most students pick a specific university. However, school size, social life, student diversity, and the location also determine if a public university is right for you.

    One big difference between private colleges and public universities in Florida is the learning environment.

    Public four-year colleges and universities usually have bigger campuses and larger classes than private colleges. Self-driven, independent learners may find that a public college suits them. On the other hand, students who do better with more classroom engagement and assistance may opt for a private college.