Think you can’t afford higher education in the US? Think again. If you’re looking to earn your degree from a US University and got a little scared researching what it could cost – fear not. We did some digging ourselves and found seven of the cheapest colleges in the US for domestic or international students.
With runaway tuition, families are paying significantly more now than they were in prior decades. U.S. News data shows that tuition and fees for the 2022-2023 school year cost an average of about $39,700 at ranked private schools. Average tuition for out-of-state students attending ranked public colleges comes to about $23,000, and average in-state tuition at public institutions is about $10,400.
Benefits of Studying in the US
For international students seeking quality education, there are many reasons why studying in the US is beneficial. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:
- Many academic opportunities as there are a myriad of institutions to choose from
- Improved career prospects by having a degree from an accredited American university
- Opportunity to gain a diverse cultural perspective
- Ability to become fluent in English
- Large international student support group
- International experience to place on your CV
Before We Get Started: Important Notes About These Affordable US Universities
The following information and tuition fees refer solely to undergraduate degrees, but many of these universities offer graduate degrees, as well. You can learn more about each school by clicking on the links.
Just remember that there might be additional mandatory fees beyond tuition, like annual enrollment fees and costs for course materials. You’ll also need to take housing and commuting expenses into account when choosing where to study.
If you need help figuring out how to manage your personal finances during your degree, read these 9 smart tips to get started.
Let’s get you started on the path to reaching your educational goals!
Affordable Universities in the US
1. University of the People
University of the People is the world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited online university. With a groundbreaking online learning model and instructors from the world’s foremost academic institutions, UoPeople offers the opportunity for high-quality, accessible, and affordable American degree programs.
The university offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, and health science, as well as master’s degree programs in business administration and education. Classes are taught by globally leading faculty, who volunteer from well-renowned universities such as NYU and UC Berkeley.
Annual tuition for international students: University of the People is tuition-free, which means there is no charge for teaching or instruction. There are relatively minimal assessment fees associated with each course.
Annual Tuition Fees*: $0
* The University of the People is tuition-free, but there are some fees associated with earning degrees, which typically range between $2,000 to $4,000.
Estimated total fees for the associate degree: $2,460
Estimated total fees for the bachelor’s degree: $4,860
Estimated total fees for the MBA: $2,940
Estimated total fees for the Master’s in Education: $3,180
Percentage of international students: 54%
Also See: Top 50 Universities In Africa
2. The City University of New York
The City University of New York – also known as CUNY – is a public university system in New York City that includes 26 individual institutions, where students can learn from award-winning faculty. Among those institutions are Baruch College, Hunter College, Brooklyn College, City College of New York, and more.
Committed to providing accessible, high-quality education to New Yorkers since 1847, CUNY offers affordable tuition rates to all students.
Among its current initiatives are programs for adult students, Latino faculty growth, and innovative workforce training.
Annual tuition for international students: $18,600
Percentage of international students: Unknown
3. California State University, Long Beach
Established in 1949, California State University, Long Beach – also known as Long Beach State, or “The Beach” – is the third-largest campus of the California State University system, which has 23 branches across the most populous state.
With a campus located only 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean and a 40-minute drive from Hollywood, students enjoy a variety of science-focused programs (chemistry, astronomy, and environmental science, among others) and art programs (theater, film, design, dance, and music), alongside degree options in liberal arts, education, business administration, health and human services, engineering, and mathematics.
Annual tuition for international students: $18,726
Percentage of international students: 6.4%%
4. Alcorn State University in Mississippi
Alcorn University was founded in 1871 in Claiborne County, Mississippi, with a goal to provide education to descendants of previously enslaved African Americans. Today, it offers more than 50 degree programs to over 4,000 students with diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The university also collaborates with educational institutions from around the globe. Among others, it lets students spend a semester in South America or Africa, participate in videoconferencing sessions with organizations from around the world, and take action to improve the lives of people living in developing countries.
Students and graduates are called Alcornites. According to the university’s website, if you’re an Alcornite, you’re “an individual with both the knowledge and the character to achieve your dreams… for your career, for your family, for your community.”
Annual tuition for international students: $7,290
Percentage of international students: 2.8%
5. Minot State University in North Dakota
Founded in 1913 in Minot, North Dakota, Minot State University ensures a student-teacher ratio of 14:1, making it the place to go if you want to enjoy the small-town feeling where everybody knows your name – in a big town university campus.
At Minot State University, you can choose from 60 undergraduate programs – as diverse as information systems, science, social work, education, finance, and criminal justice.
Annual tuition for international students: $7,896
Percentage of international students: 12%
6. South Texas College
Established in 1993, South Texas College offers both undergraduate degree and certificate programs. It is credited for transforming life paths and communities in the Hidalgo and Starr counties, as 67% of its students are the first in their families to attend a university.
Committed to creating social and economic mobility in these communities, South Texas College maintains a 22:1 student-teacher ratio, creates cross-disciplinary learning experiences, and promotes cost efficiency in higher education.
Annual tuition for international students: $7,830
Percentage of international students: Less than 1%
7. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York
Established in 1859, Cooper Union is known as one of the most challenging universities to get into, as its programs in architecture, fine arts, and especially engineering, are highly celebrated.
At the same time, Cooper Union is committed to equal opportunities, and practices “need-blind admission”—meaning the team considering an applicant’s merits has no idea of their financial status as they decide whether or not to admit them.
Until 2014, every student accepted into Cooper Union received a full scholarship covering the annual $44,550 tuition. Though this is no longer the policy, every student still gets a 50% scholarship. International students need to pay an additional $1,005 per semester, but it’s still one of the more affordable institutes of higher learning in the United States.
Annual tuition for international students: $22,635
Percentage of international students: 17.5%
8. University of Holy Cross ($13,236)
The University of Holy Cross is an above-average private liberal arts college located in New Orleans.
Popular majors at this institution with a fairly completive admission rate include Nursing, Biology and Business.
9. Tennessee Wesleyan University ($13,183)
Founded in 1857, Tennessee Wesleyan is a private college based in Athens, Tennessee.
The most popular majors taken at this small-sized university include Nursing, Business and Accounting.
10. Calumet College of Saint Joseph ($13,290)
Founded in 1951, Calumet is a private institution based in Whiting, Indiana, with additional campuses in Chicago and Indiana.
The most popular majors at this college include Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration, Business, and Liberal Arts and Humanities.