States with the most (and least) expensive college tuition

In the past, attending an in-state public university was commonly considered the path to obtaining a high-quality education at a reasonable price. However, stark increases in tuition at public four-year universities have challenged that assumption. In 2018, the average total cost for tuition, school fees, room, and board for public universities was $20,050 per year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, that’s about twice as high as the rate 25 years earlier.

Since the 1980s, the increase in college tuition has far outpaced inflation and wage growth. In recent years, rising tuition has coincided with declining state and local support for higher education. Historically, public universities have been funded through two main sources: tuition, which is paid by students and their families, and educational appropriations, which are funded through state and local sources. Today, tuition makes up a higher percentage of total higher education funding than in years past.

According to the State Higher Education Finance FY18 report released by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), the total amount of educational revenue per student has been gradually increasing since 2012 following the Great Recession. However, the overall increase largely comes from an increase in net tuition revenue per student, while educational appropriations per student have declined. In 2018, educational appropriations were $7,853 per full-time enrolled (FTE) student, far below the peak of $9,765 per FTE in 2001.

As state and local support for higher education decline, the prices that students pay go up. But according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity, “The cost shift from states to students has happened over a period when many families have had trouble absorbing additional expenses due to stagnant or declining incomes.” The result is that students now have a much greater likelihood of taking on debt.

In the wake of these trends, it’s not surprising that incoming college freshmen are more price-conscious than ever before. Interestingly, there is often a large gap between the prices that colleges advertise and what people pay, which is why students should look at net price rather than the published sticker price of attendance. Net price takes into account the published in-state tuition rate, as well as financial aid through grants and scholarships.

Across the U.S., the average net price for attending a public university is $14,558, about 72 percent of the average published total price of attendance. However, some states have more financially accessible public universities than others. For example, the average net price for attending a public university in West Virginia is about half as much as attending a public university in New Hampshire. With about three out of four undergraduates enrolled in a public university, understanding these costs can help with future college and financial planning.

To find the most and least expensive states to go to public school as a full-time undergraduate, tutoring agency HeyTutor analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics and the SHEEO report. Here’s what they found:

States with the most expensive public colleges

1. New Hampshire

Average net price: $22,090
Average total price: $30,425
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $17,287
Average room & board: $13,138
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 79%
State & local appropriations per student: $3,064

2. Pennsylvania

Average net price: $21,130
Average total price: $30,201
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $15,449
Average room & board: $14,752
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 73%
State & local appropriations per student: $4,228

3. Vermont

Average net price: $18,591
Average total price: $29,796
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $16,862
Average room & board: $12,934
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 87%
State & local appropriations per student: $3,034

4. Massachusetts

Average net price: $18,416
Average total price: $27,054
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,269
Average room & board: $13,785
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 43%
State & local appropriations per student: $8,329

5. South Carolina

Average net price: $18,179
Average total price: $26,736
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,576
Average room & board: $13,160
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 66%
State & local appropriations per student: $5,104

6. Ohio

Average net price: $17,927
Average total price: $25,868
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $11,681
Average room & board: $14,187
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 59%
State & local appropriations per student: $5,458

7. Colorado

Average net price: $17,783
Average total price: $26,113
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,040
Average room & board: $14,073
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 69%
State & local appropriations per student: $4,412

8. Virginia

Average net price: $17,638
Average total price: $27,226
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $13,789
Average room & board: $13,437
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 64%
State & local appropriations per student: $5,139

9. Connecticut

Average net price: $17,320
Average total price: $27,452
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,903
Average room & board: $14,550
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 50%
State & local appropriations per student: $11,408

10. South Dakota

Average net price: $17,151
Average total price: $23,504
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $9,929
Average room & board: $13,575
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 68%
State & local appropriations per student: $5,145

States with the most affordable public colleges

1. West Virginia

Average net price: $10,389
Average total price: $21,289
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,558
Average room & board: $12,731
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 64%
State & local appropriations per student: $4,680

2. New Mexico

Average net price: $10,877
Average total price: $20,436
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $7,811
Average room & board: $12,626
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 24%
State & local appropriations per student: $9,637

3. Alaska

Average net price: $11,340
Average total price: $22,889
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $7,573
Average room & board: $15,316
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 26%
State & local appropriations per student: $17,355

4. New York

Average net price: $11,393
Average total price: $25,679
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $9,144
Average room & board: $16,535
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 37%
State & local appropriations per student: $10,064

5. Indiana

Average net price: $11,755
Average total price: $22,925
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,667
Average room & board: $12,258
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 61%
State & local appropriations per student: $6,378

6. Utah

Average net price: $12,254
Average total price: $20,418
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,339
Average room & board: $12,080
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 47%
State & local appropriations per student: $6,748

7. California

Average net price: $12,336
Average total price: $28,058
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $11,030
Average room & board: $17,029
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 20%
State & local appropriations per student: $9,762

8. North Carolina

Average net price: $12,542
Average total price: $21,474
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $8,408
Average room & board: $13,066
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 34%
State & local appropriations per student: $8,584

9. Washington

Average net price: $12,830
Average total price: $24,709
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,507
Average room & board: $14,202
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 46%
State & local appropriations per student: $6,787

10. Texas

Average net price: $12,838
Average total price: $23,167
Average tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,062
Average room & board: $13,105
Tuition percentage of total education revenue: 40%
State & local appropriations per student: $7,172

Methodology & full results

The pricing data used in this analysis is from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES-IPEDS). The average net price is for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates paying the in-state tuition rate who were awarded a grant or scholarship aid from federal, state or local governments, or the institution. For each institution, the average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state or local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total published price of attendance. Apart from net price, the other pricing statistics shown reflect what is published by the universities.

For each state, weighted average pricing statistics were calculated using each institution’s estimated full-time equivalent enrollment. Only public, four-year, degree-granting institutions were included. Additionally, online institutions were removed from the analysis.

Data on education revenue and appropriations are from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. All data shown is for the 2016-2017 school year, which is the most recent data available on net price from the NCES.

This article first appeared on Heytutor.com.