How Schools Are Making College More Affordable

While higher education is a costly proposition, many colleges around the country are coming up with ways to help students get a degree without breaking the bank.

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College Is Expensive

No two ways about it — college is expensive, and the cost is only climbing.
Moderate annual cost (1)

In-state public: $22,826

Private college: $44,750

3 in 5

Students who borrow to cover college costs (2)

$1 trillion

Estimated outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. (3)

Keeping Tuition Low

One of the most tried-and-true ways of lowering your college costs is by attending an in-state school. But several institutions around the country are making out-of-state students feel more welcome:

Least expensive public colleges for out-of-state students (tuition and fees) (4)

School name, state: Tuition and fees (2012-2013)

Minot State University, ND: $5,921

West Texas A&M University, TX: $7,630

Bemidji State University, MN: $8,106

Mayville State University, ND: $8,436

Northern State University, SD: $9,133

Midwestern State University, TX: $9,188

Louisiana State University—Alexandria, LA: $9,244

South Dakota State University, SD: $9,350

University of South Dakota, SD: $9,650

Missouri Southern State University, MO: $9,654

National out-of-state average: $19,100 (4)

National in-state average: $8,300 (4)

Out-of-state average for 10 cheapest: $8,631 (4)

Regional Coverage

For students who want to leave home but not go too far away, many colleges participate in regional exchanges in which in-state tuition is available for students from nearby states. Look at some select states included in exchanges.

What’s your region? (5)


Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia

  • Southern Regional Education Board Academic Common Market
  • Regional Contract Program


Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin

  • Midwest Student Exchange


Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming

  • Western Undergraduate Exchange
  • Western Regional Graduate Program
  • Professional Student Exchange Program


Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

  • New England Regional Student Program

Booking It

Textbook costs have surged in the past decade. Students and colleges alike are looking for ways to blunt the impact.


Average annual spending per student on textbooks (6)


Rise in price of textbooks between 2002 and 2013, nearly three times the rate of inflation (6)

Some professors include open-source textbooks in their class curriculum. Such books are written by faculty and peer-reviewed, as traditional books are, but they’re free online and to download. And they’re typically available in print for $20-$40.

University of Minnesota professor Irene Duranczyk uses an open textbook for her statistics course. The traditional book is $180. The open source version? Free. (6)

Three Is the Magic Number

Taking a cue from European programs, many American colleges now offer a three-year bachelor’s degree, cutting at least a year off the standard college cost.

Select colleges offering three-year degree programs: (7)

Ashland University: OH

Baldwin-Wallace College: OH

Thomas More College: KY

Urbana University: OH

Wentworth Institute of Technology: MA

American University: DC

Bluffton University: OH

Grace College: IN

Lesley University: MA

St. John’s University: NY

Mount St. Mary’s University: MD

Nichols College: MA

Sterling College: VT

University of Akron: OH

Ursuline College: OH

Chatham University: PA

Hartwick College: NY

Lake Forest College: IL

Lipscomb University: TN