Get matched with vetted scholarships and enter our
By signing up, I agree to Scholarships360’s Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Scholarship Rules.
Start typing in the text field above
Load More
Advertiser disclosure

Student-centric advice and objective recommendations

Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.

Top Public Universities in the US

Written by Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Updated: December 11th, 2023

Public universities offer a world-class education at a price point that is often much lower than private schools. Public schools, especially state schools, tend to be on the bigger side, and they offer substantial tuition discounts to in-state students. Some states also have tuition reciprocity agreements, which allow students to receive tuition discounts for out-of-state schools. Check out our list of public schools below and compare your options by size, cost, grad rate, admissions rate, and more:

Read More
Get Started

Join for exclusive scholarships, personalized matching, and application tracking. 0% Spam, 100% Free.

487 colleges
Sort by
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

Atlanta, GA • Public, City

Atlanta, GA

Public, City

16% acceptance rate
16,566 undergraduate students
92% graduation rate
$14,820 average per year after aid
Learn More
Get Started

Join for exclusive scholarships, personalized matching, and application tracking. 0% Spam, 100% Free.

Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Public, City

Gainesville, FL

Public, City

30% acceptance rate
34,044 undergraduate students
91% graduation rate
$3,679 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Public, City

Berkeley, CA

Public, City

14% acceptance rate
31,811 undergraduate students
93% graduation rate
$15,240 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of California-Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Public, City

Los Angeles, CA

Public, City

11% acceptance rate
32,122 undergraduate students
92% graduation rate
$11,627 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public, City

Ann Arbor, MI

Public, City

20% acceptance rate
32,063 undergraduate students
94% graduation rate
$17,086 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College

United States Merchant Marine Academy

Kings Point, NY • Public, Suburb

Kings Point, NY

Public, Suburb

25% acceptance rate
1,006 undergraduate students
81% graduation rate
$6,627 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of California-San Diego

La Jolla, CA • Public, City

La Jolla, CA

Public, City

34% acceptance rate
33,339 undergraduate students
89% graduation rate
$14,895 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Virginia-Main Campus

Charlottesville, VA • Public, Suburb

Charlottesville, VA

Public, Suburb

21% acceptance rate
17,041 undergraduate students
94% graduation rate
$20,507 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of California-Irvine

Irvine, CA • Public, City

Irvine, CA

Public, City

29% acceptance rate
29,438 undergraduate students
84% graduation rate
$9,691 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public, City, Need-Blind

Chapel Hill, NC

Public, City, Need-Blind

20% acceptance rate
19,722 undergraduate students
90% graduation rate
$13,263 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Seattle, WA • Public, City

Seattle, WA

Public, City

53% acceptance rate
31,367 undergraduate students
84% graduation rate
$10,933 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of California-Davis

Davis, CA • Public, Suburb

Davis, CA

Public, Suburb

49% acceptance rate
31,637 undergraduate students
87% graduation rate
$14,920 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Maryland-College Park

College Park, MD • Public, Suburb

College Park, MD

Public, Suburb

52% acceptance rate
30,368 undergraduate students
88% graduation rate
$17,500 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Purdue University-Main Campus

West Lafayette, IN • Public, City

West Lafayette, IN

Public, City

69% acceptance rate
37,658 undergraduate students
83% graduation rate
$9,127 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public, City

Champaign, IL

Public, City

60% acceptance rate
33,889 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$15,483 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI • Public, City

Madison, WI

Public, City

60% acceptance rate
33,506 undergraduate students
89% graduation rate
$16,708 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

New York, NY • Public, City

New York, NY

Public, City

51% acceptance rate
15,483 undergraduate students
74% graduation rate
$1,936 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

William & Mary

Williamsburg, VA • Public, Suburb

Williamsburg, VA

Public, Suburb

37% acceptance rate
6,521 undergraduate students
91% graduation rate
$18,650 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA • Public, Suburb

San Luis Obispo, CA

Public, Suburb

33% acceptance rate
21,090 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$20,633 average per year after aid
Learn More
Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

The University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Public, City

Austin, TX

Public, City

29% acceptance rate
40,506 undergraduate students
88% graduation rate
$17,519 average per year after aid
Learn More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
  • 25
  • Next Next Page Icon
About the Data

We sort colleges on our lists according to their Scholarships360 Top Colleges Index Score. This score is calculated using up-to-date information taken directly from the College Scorecard. Additional information is sourced from the colleges themselves, as well as other publicly available information. If you see an error, feel free to contact us.

What you should know about public universities

Public universities are funded by the federal government, which allows them to charge lower tuition, especially to in-state students. They typically have student populations on the larger side, and oftentimes have larger enrollment in each class as well.

The larger size of public universities comes with advantages and disadvantages. Students may receive less of a personalized education at public schools. However, they often have more resources at their disposal, especially if they are doing research or anything that involves collaboration, laboratories, or other infrastructure.

Apply to private schools too!

Many students see the tuition cost at private colleges and write them off as too expensive. While it’s true that private schools do tend to charge more for tuition than public schools do, it’s important to remember they also tend to be more generous with financial aid. The only way to know the true cost of a private school is to gain admission and read through your financial aid award letter.

Related: Differences between public and private schools

Other college lists to explore

Frequently asked questions about public universities

What's the hardest public university to get into?

UCLA and UC-Berkeley have the two lowest acceptance rates of any public schools as of 2023, with UCLA at 11% and UC-Berkeley at 14%. These are two of the most prestigious public schools in the country, but there are many other quality public universities for students to consider.

Are public schools cheaper than private schools?

Public schools tend to charge lower tuition than private schools. Especially for in-state students, they often end up being the cheapest option. However, the price difference is not as big as it looks on paper. Private schools tend to be more generous with financial aid, so many students end up only paying a portion of the sticker price you see listed on private colleges’ websites.

Get Started

Join for exclusive scholarships, personalized matching, and application tracking. 0% Spam, 100% Free.

3 reasons to join scholarships360

  • Automatic entry to our $10,000 No-Essay Scholarship
  • Personalized matching to thousands of vetted scholarships
  • Quick apply for scholarships exclusive to our platform

By the way...Scholarships360 is 100% free!

Join For Free