Colleges With the Cheapest and Most Affordable Out-Of-State Tuition

You could attend school in a different state for less than $500 a year. Explore our list of affordable out-of-state colleges to find one that fits your budget.
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Jordan Stewart-Rozema writes data-driven education content focusing on higher education trends, student finances, and alternative education pathways such as coding bootcamps. She previously worked to promote online learning and media literacy educati...
Published on March 12, 2024
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Lyss Welding is a higher education analyst and senior editor for BestColleges who specializes in translating massive data sets and finding statistics that matter to students. Lyss has worked in academic research, curriculum design, and program evalua...
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Data Summary

  • Check
    The most affordable out-of-state tuition is less than $500 a year.
  • Check
    The most affordable out-of-state colleges typically charge $7,000-$9,000 per year.
  • Check
    Three out of the top five out-of-state colleges on our list are tribal colleges.
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    Two out of the top 10 are HBCUs.
  • Check
    Colleges in Puerto Rico boast some of the most affordable out-of-state tuition.

According to a 2023 research brief by the Institute for College Access and Success, 1 in 5 college students goes to school out of state.Note Reference [1] But out-of-state tuition is often much higher than in-state rates — almost three times higher, on average.

If you're hoping to leave home for college but aren't sure how you'll afford the cost of out-of-state tuition, you may be relieved to hear that some schools buck the trend and keep rates low even for out-of-staters. Read on to learn more about the colleges charging the cheapest out-of-state tuition and which states are most affordable for out-of-state students.

Public Universities With the Most Affordable Out-of-State Tuition

If you're hoping to move to a new state for the next phase of your education but want to keep the costs down, browse our list below for some of the cheapest public schools for out-of-state students.

This list only includes accredited public U.S. colleges and universities that primarily award bachelor's degrees. Our list uses information from the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard.Note Reference [2]

All tuition data is from the 2021-2022 school year, the most recent year available from the U.S. Department of Education.

1. Haskell Indian Nations University

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $480

Haskell Indian Nations University is a public tribal university located in Lawrence, Kansas — about a 45-minute drive west of Kansas City — that serves American Indian and Alaska Native students. Learners need to either belong to a federally recognized tribe or claim eligibility through their ancestry. The university currently enrolls about 1,000 students.

The school offers eight associate programs and four bachelor's programs in elementary teacher education, American Indian studies, business administration, and environmental science.

2. United States Merchant Marine Academy

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $780

The United States Merchant Marine Academy is a federal service academy for students who want to become officers in the U.S. Merchant Marines and Armed Forces. The school is located in Kings Point, New York, just outside of New York City, and sees an annual enrollment of close to 1,000 students.

All students must complete a "Sea Year" experiential learning requirement where they gain hands-on experience working on commercial or military ships. Graduates will earn a BS degree, a Coast Guard license, and an officer's commission in the Armed Forces. Graduates must either serve in the U.S. reserves as they work in the commercial maritime industry or serve in the Armed Forces.

3. Sinte Gleska University

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $3,154

Sinte Gleska University is one of the best colleges in South Dakota for those who want to get a good deal on out-of-state tuition. This tribal college is located in the small town of Mission, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. The school has roughly 500 full-time and 850 part-time Native students, as well as about 200 non-Native students. Students are between 25-34 years of age on average.

Lakota studies are integrated into all students' experiences at Sinte Gleska. Students must take courses in Lakota language and Lakota history and culture as part of their core degree requirements.

4. Institute of American Indian Arts

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $5,321

Located just a few minutes outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts enrolls roughly 870 students from close to 100 federally recognized tribes.

This arts institute offers undergraduate degrees in studio arts, performing arts, museum studies, Iindigenous liberal studies, creative writing, and cinematic arts and technology. The school also offers three graduate programs in creative writing, studio arts, and cultural administration, along with a handful of certificate and continuing education programs.

The institute's Museum of Contemporary Native Arts includes over 10,000 contemporary artworks by Native artists in its permanent collection.

5. University of Wisconsin Flex Program

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $6,750

The University of Wisconsin Flex Program is a self-paced, competency-based program offered entirely online. Students sign up for a 12-week subscription to the program and are allowed to take as many courses as they want throughout that period. Students take assessments when they feel ready and receive credit for the course when they pass the assessments.

The program offers one associate degree option, four certificate options, and five bachelor's degree options in business administration, biomedical sciences diagnostic imaging, biomedical health sciences, information science and technology, and nursing.

6. Mississippi Valley State University

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $7,068

Mississippi Valley State University is a historically Black university (HBCU) located in the small town of Itta Bena, Mississippi. Out-of-state students get a great deal: MVSU doesn't charge an out-of-state tuition rate. About one-quarter of the school's roughly 2,000 students are out-of-state or international learners.

Students can select from 36 undergraduate and graduate programs, including one of only seven accredited graduate environmental health programs in the country. The student-to-faculty ratio is 12 to 1, and the institution has almost 100 full-time faculty and close to 50 part-time faculty.

7. Elizabeth City State University

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $7,326

Elizabeth City State University is another HBCU of just over 2,000 students located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. ECSU offers 27 bachelor's programs and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1. Out-of-state tuition is just $2,500 per semester, with an in-state tuition of just $500 per semester.

Founded in 1891 as a teacher training school for Black students, ECSU has graduated over 20,000 students throughout its long history. The school's academic focus areas include health sciences, education, and aviation.

8. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $7,495

Located in the small town of Pembroke, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers over 100 undergraduate and over 50 graduate programs. Even with a student population of over 8,000, the institution is able to maintain a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14 to 1.

When the school first opened, it was dedicated to the education of Native American teachers. UNC Pembroke is officially designated "North Carolina's Historically American Indian University," and students can visit the Museum of the Southeast American Indian on campus to learn more about Indigenous culture in the region.

9. Wayne State College

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $7,618

If the low out-of-state rate isn't enough incentive to apply to Wayne State College, wait until you hear this impressive graduate outcome statistic: The school claims that out of nearly 600 graduates surveyed in 2020-2021, a whopping 99.8% were employed or in graduate school.

Located in Wayne, Nebraska, a little over 100 miles north of Omaha, this state college enrolls just under 4,000 undergraduate students and offers over 130 academic programs. Students can earn their degrees online, with three online bachelor's programs and six online master's programs.

10. Peru State College

Annual Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $7,680

If you're looking for a small-town feel, this may be the school for you: Peru State College is located in the small town of Peru, Nebraska, which had a total population of just 648 people as of the 2020 census.Note Reference [3] The school's student body is almost three times that size, at almost 1,800 students in 2022.

Affordability is another reason Peru State College might top your list. In addition to the low out-of-state tuition rate, the institution claims that 99% of its first-year students were awarded financial aid for the 2021-2022 school year. Students at Peru State can select from over 70 undergraduate majors and 13 online undergraduate program options.

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

20+ Most Affordable Out-of-State Colleges: Full List

You can find even more affordable out-of-state public colleges in the table below. While the least expensive schools come in under $1,000 per year, most cost $7,000-$9,000 for out-of-state students.

Nebraska and North Carolina top the list of states with the most choices: Each state is home to three schools in our list of the top 20 affordable out-of-state schools in the country.

Most Affordable Out-of-State Public Colleges
School State Annual Out-of-State Tuition
Haskell Indian Nations University KS $480
United States Merchant Marine Academy NY $780
Sinte Gleska University SD $3,154
Institute of American Indian Arts NM $5,321
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Flex WI $6,750
University of Wisconsin-Parkside Flex WI $6,750
Mississippi Valley State University MS $7,068
Elizabeth City State University NC $7,326
University of North Carolina at Pembroke NC $7,495
Wayne State College NE $7,618
Peru State College NE $7,680
Mississippi University for Women MS $7,756
Chadron State College NE $7,874
Minot State University ND $8,164
Alcorn State University MS $8,176
Oklahoma Panhandle State University OK $8,234
Delta State University MS $8,360
Western Carolina University NC $8,367
Colorado State University Global CO $8,400
Eastern New Mexico University NM $8,688
Granite State College NH $9,015
Source: U.S. College ScorecardNote Reference [2]

A Deeper Look

Are Online Colleges Cheaper Than Campus Options?

Online options have become a popular choice in recent years, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrolling in an online college program can be a great way to attend an out-of-state school without physically relocating — and maybe without paying out-of-state tuition. Many online programs charge the same rate to every student regardless of where they live. This may make going to an out-of-state school more affordable.

However, online programs aren't always the cheaper option. A 2020 Quality Matters report comparing the cost of online and on-campus programs found that many schools charge roughly the same amount for both types of programs.Note Reference [4]

Cheapest States to Attend College

For the cheapest out-of-state tuition at a public institution, head inland. The Dakotas and Wyoming are home to some of the least expensive state schools for out-of-state students, beating out the next few options by $4,000 or more. The most expensive states — Michigan and Vermont — charge more than three times the out-of-state tuition rate in South Dakota.

See how states compare in the map and table below.

Table: Cheapest States to Attend College: Ranked from Lowest to Highest

Sort Results by:
Cheapest States to Attend College: Ranked from Lowest to Highest
Rank State Out-of-State Tuition and Fees for Public Institutions
1 South Dakota $13,194
2 North Dakota $13,973
3 Wyoming $14,669
4 Florida $18,344
5 New York $20,304
6 Mississippi $20,848
7 New Mexico $21,952
8 Nebraska $21,953
9 Arkansas $21,981
10 Oklahoma $22,125
11 Utah $22,244
12 Missouri $22,812
13 West Virginia $22,915
14 Georgia $23,345
15 Louisiana $23,395
16 North Carolina $23,452
17 Nevada $23,550
18 Kansas $23,967
19 Tennessee $24,381
20 Idaho $24,754
21 Minnesota $25,238
22 Kentucky $25,325
23 Alaska $25,414
24 Texas $25,419
25 Arizona $26,025
26 Pennsylvania $26,426
27 Ohio $26,881
28 Wisconsin $27,024
29 Maryland $27,111
30 Alabama $27,145
31 Montana $27,435
32 Iowa $28,257
33 Indiana $29,269
34 Illinois $29,350
35 New Jersey $29,681
36 Maine $30,099
37 Washington $31,410
38 Colorado $31,699
39 New Hampshire $32,035
40 Hawaii $32,043
41 Massachusetts $32,291
42 Delaware $32,419
43 Rhode Island $32,910
44 South Carolina $33,217
45 Oregon $34,292
46 California $34,454
47 Virginia $36,674
48 Connecticut $37,414
49 Michigan $40,004
50 Vermont $41,914
Source: National Center for Education StatisticsNote Reference [5]

Did You Know...

Puerto Rico boasts some of the most affordable colleges.

Puerto Rico has beaches, mountains, rainforests — and some of the lowest college prices around. The most affordable colleges in Puerto Rico range from $2,000-$7,000 in annual tuition, with most in this group coming in around $5,000.


  1. How Many Students Go Out-of-State for College? (PDF) The Institute for College Access and Success. October 2023. (back to footnote 1 in content ⤶)
  2. College Scorecard. U.S. Department of Education. October 2023. (back to footnote 2 in content ⤶)
  3. Peru City, Nebraska. United States Census Bureau. February 2024. (back to footnote 3 in content ⤶)
  4. 2020 CHLOE 4 Report. Quality Matters. March 2020. (back to footnote 4 in content ⤶)
  5. Table 330.20. Average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board charges for full-time students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution and state: Academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22. National Center for Education Statistics. May 2023. (back to footnote 5 in content ⤶) 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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