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    Top Colleges for Affordability in 2024

    Welcome to Scholarships360’s comprehensive list of the top colleges for affordability in America! We know that the cost of higher education is shockingly high, and to many students, a college degree may not even seem like a possibility. With so many colleges out there and so many high tuition rates, it can seem overwhelming. That’s why we put together this guide of the top colleges for affordability across the country.

    One important thing to remember is that for many students, an in-state public college is the most affordable option. With in-state tuition discounts, these schools will often end up charging a fraction of the tuition you’ll find elsewhere. One of the flaws with one-size-fits-all rankings is that they don’t account for individual students’ circumstances, including state of residency. That being said, the colleges on this list all have a great track record for offering affordable, quality education to students from any state. 

    Washington DC
    Rhode Island
    South Carolina
    West Virginia
    How we chose

    To assemble our list of the best colleges for affordability, we ranked each four-year, in-person institution according to two key factors: Net Price and Average Student Debt. We took the schools with the lowest costs and debt levels, then we eliminated every institution with a graduation rate below the national average. All of this data was sourced from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard dataset. Here’s why we chose to look at these two data points:

    • Net Price: Tuition costs can look overwhelming, but many students end up paying significantly less once financial aid is factored in. Net Price looks at the price that students are paying once their aid has kicked in. Looking at this statistics rather than tuition helps level the playing field between schools with low tuition and schools with higher tuition but stronger financial aid.
    • Average Student Debt: One of the best ways to gauge affordability is to take a look at how much students have to take out in debt to afford a school. If students are leaving with higher debt, it means the school didn’t meet as much of their need.

    Keep in mind that even though some of these schools may have a high tuition cost, they also offer great financial aid. So, if you are able to gain admission, wait until you get your financial aid package to decide whether it is an affordable option for you.

    Note: We assessed each college based on data available in the College Scorecard. However, the Scorecard was missing data from some schools. We were unable to consider schools with missing data which may have otherwise qualified. U.S. Military Academies were among the schools we were unable to consider due to lack of data.

    The Data
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is the Ivy League affordable?

    Ivy League schools have high tuition, but they also tend to offer great financial aid to students who get in. If you think you might qualify for admission at an Ivy League college, don’t be deterred by the price. If you do gain admission, there’s a good chance that you’ll receive a financial aid package that makes it feasible.

    It’s also worth noting that Ivy League degrees typically unlock higher earning potential than degrees from other institutions. This means that even if you do have to take out substantial loans in order to attend, it could be a worthwhile investment.

    How were these colleges selected?

    We took a student-centric approach to choose these Top Affordable Colleges. Each of these schools have low net price and student debt levels. We also took graduation rate into account to ensure that each college offers a quality education.

    Is college a good investment?

    As you look into college options and consider taking out loans to fund your education, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether college is a responsible financial decision. The colleges on this list are more affordable than most, but many students will still have to take out loans to attend.

    Before you decide to enroll, it’s a good idea to use the College Scorecard to look at 10-year salaries for graduates in your chosen major. Some majors might lead to higher-paying jobs that could justify taking out large student loans. Others may have a lower payoff and be difficult to pay back once you’ve graduated.

    Remember, even if college is not financially viable at the moment, you can always choose to attend in the future. You can also increase your earning potential now through less expensive programs like apprenticeships, bootcamps, certificate programs, and more.

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