Finding an affordable college to attend just got a little bit easier. At Affordable Colleges Online we’re dedicated to helping you find the most affordable colleges in the fields you desire. We know how important a college degree is in today’s job market so we’ve analyzed the data and come up with this list of the most affordable colleges with the biggest return on investment. Check out the results and visit the university websites to find out which college is right for you. To find out how these colleges made our top-50 list be sure to read our selection methodology.
Highly respected and trusted data sources were used, including IPEDS, NCES, Carnegie Classification and Payscale. Special thanks to Payscale.com, who has pioneered a methodology of collecting statistically accurate, individualized salary reports, unmatched by any other information provider.
Ranked #1, The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world’s premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report’s top public universities, the Institute enrolls over 21,000 students within its 6 colleges. Georgia Tech is the nation’s leading producer of engineers as well as female and minority engineering Ph.D. graduates. Holding more than 848 patents and receiving approximately $689 million in research and development expenditures, Georgia Tech ranks among the nation’s top ten universities (without a medical school) in research expenditures.
Top-ranked SUNY New Paltz provides one of the nation’s most open, diverse, and artistic environments in order to prepare students to excel in rapidly changing times. The tradition of intellectual discovery is enhanced by a location of stunning natural beauty, in a dynamic college town, with easy access to New York City. The unusually wide array of professional and liberal arts majors fosters a rich academic milieu in which 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, selected through a competitive admissions process, can develop to their highest potential. New Paltz has been recognized as a “green” school with environmentally-friendly buildings and campus-wide recycling programs. With award-winning faculty members, SUNY New Paltz has been recognized for its value.
Named the No. 2 best public university by U.S. News and World Report, University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. The school’s suburban campus features bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in health professions, engineering, education, psychology, social sciences, and more.
Texas A&M is the nation’s sixth-largest university, with more than 50,000 students enrolled in more than 120 undergraduate degree programs. However, it has the “feel” of a much smaller campus, thanks to the friendliness personified by the entire Aggie community in College Station. Its high-achieving students are challenged by a rigorous curriculum that is complemented by numerous study-abroad, internship and undergraduate research opportunities. With more than 800 student organizations on campus, they also are given a host of opportunities to develop leadership skills that serve them well after graduation. Home to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the campus also features entertainment venues, landmarks, a visitor’s center, and more.
Through its missions of learning, discovery, and engagement and dedication to the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on approach to education. Virginia Tech offers over 70 undergraduate degree programs and 150 master’s and doctoral degree programs to more than 30,000 students while managing a research portfolio of more than $450 million. Through a combination of competitive tuition and fee rates and increased funding for student financial aid Virginia Tech is consistently named a ‘best value’ on several national rankings.
Considered a “Public Ivy” and one of the world’s great liberal arts universities, the College of William & Mary blends the intimacy of a liberal arts college with the reach of a research university. Founded by Royal Charter in 1693, it is the second oldest college and the first university in the country. W&M offers 30 undergraduate and 10 graduate programs in arts & sciences, business, education, law, and marine science and its programs regularly place near the top of college rankings. Today, enrollment stands at just over 8,000 full-time (graduate and undergraduate) students with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio, among the lowest of public universities.
Named the West’s best public master’s-level university for two decades by U.S. News and World Report, Cal Poly is a comprehensive polytechnic campus of about 18,000 students on California’s Central Coast. One of the California State University’s 23 campuses, Cal Poly provides a renowned Learn by Doing education aimed at producing innovative professionals and future industry leaders literate in science and technology as well as the liberal arts. With graduates who hold a 97% employment rate, Cal Poly is a nationally-ranked university located on California’s Central Coast. Admissions are highly competitive with rates below 10% for the freshman class.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy was made for sea-loving students. Graduates go on to serve the maritime industry after a physically rigorous and mentally challenging academic program. Graduate programs, continuing education, and maritime training are also available.
The University of Maryland is home to more than 90 majors, 800 clubs and organizations, 20 NCAA Division I teams, and 25 programs ranked in the top 10 nationally. The suburban campus offers students numerous opportunities including internships at the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA.
Often referred to as Missouri S&T, Missouri University of Science and Technology is a public, state-sponsored college situated in Rolla. Offering more than 65 degree programs, S&T is one of the nation’s leading technological research universities. Students may choose from engineering, business, sciences, the humanities and liberal arts, as well as pre-professional advising. Numerous athletic teams compete in NCAA Division II programs and non-athletes can participate in ROTC or countless other clubs and organizations. Missouri S&T has received numerous national accolades for being a “best investment” college, as well as a premier technological institution.
Located in the heart of Seattle, UW is one the top research universities in the country. Colleges in arts and sciences, education, environment, nursing, engineering, public affairs and more give students a wide variety of programs from which to choose. A large undergraduate research program encourages students to conduct their own studies and experiments, and to work closely with faculty in creating new knowledge.
Brigham Young University was established in 1875 to provide higher education under the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bachelor’s degrees are available in 193 programs with an additional 62 and 26 master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively. BYU is home to numerous libraries, museums, theatres and concert halls.
Stony Brook University is a dynamic public university on the North Shore of Long Island in New York State. Placed in the top 1% of universities worldwide by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Stony Brook is a smart choice for your future. The school offers first-rate opportunities for undergraduate research and more than 200 majors, minors and combined-degree programs.
What starts at The University of Texas at Austin changes the world. UT Austin is among the top public research universities in the nation, awarding approximately 12,000 degrees each year while charging lower tuition than most of our peer schools and continually innovating the classroom experience. The faculty and students are at the heart of game-changing research in the sciences and humanities and students receive a top-tier education in a city regarded as one of the coolest places to live.
Located in West Lafayette, Purdue also has several regional campuses from which to choose. Purdue offers more than 200 majors and programs and gives first-year students the opportunity to join a Learning Community to share in the college experience together.
A world-class institution, Binghamton University offers students a broad, interdisciplinary education with an international perspective and one of the most vibrant research programs in the nation. Ranked among the elite public universities in the country, Binghamton challenges students academically, not financially, in its unique, best-of-both-worlds environment. The students, both undergraduate and graduate, work one-on-one with an exceptional faculty and groundbreaking scholars. They take advantage of special academic opportunities like combined degrees, foreign language study groups and an unparalleled international education program.
Students at the University of Connecticut can choose form 102 undergraduate majors, 88 graduate fields of study, and five professional degree programs. Located in a beautiful rural setting, there are more than 500 clubs and organizations in which students may be involved.
Located on the shore of Lake Mendota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is home to numerous parks and more than 150 miles of trails for runners, bikers, and hikers. Degrees are available in genetics, dairy science, wildlife ecology, international business, numerous concentrations in education and engineering, plus various certificate programs. Extracurricular activities are available for nearly every interest.
At Umass Amherst, students may choose from a wide range of academic programs and unique concentrations or design their own major through the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration program. Students are involved in programs that impact day-to-day student life, such as the Student Government Association and Student Leadership Council.
This private university has small class sizes and degrees that focus on aviation, engineering, and business. Embry-Riddle’s main campus is located at Daytona Beach, Florida with a residential campus in Prescott, Arizona and has more than 130 satellite campuses worldwide designed to meet the needs of civilian and military working adults.
CU-Boulder was founded in 1877 and is the flagship university of the state. The college embraces diversity and offers a wide range of resources for every student and interest. More than 150 areas of study are available to CU-Boulder’s nearly 30,000 students.
JMU is frequently recognized as one of the top universities in the country. With degree opportunities in communications, intelligence analysis, justice studies, education, quantitative finance, and more, students have a broad range of choices. Located between farmlands and mountain ranges in the Shenandoah Valley approximately two hours from Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va., JMU is a unique geographic location to live and work.
One of only two polytechnic universities in California, Cal Poly Pomona embraces a learn-by-doing philosophy, turning theory to practice in every academic discipline. The university recognizes that students who solve classroom challenges today have an advantage as professionals solving real-world problems tomorrow. Cal Poly Pomona, nestled in 1,438 rolling acres is located about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles and enjoys a suburban setting with all the luxuries of a major metropolitan area.
George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.
The University of Florida is one of the nation’s most academically diverse public universities with 16 colleges, more than 100 undergraduate majors, and almost 200 graduate programs. Through its new January-through-August Innovation Academy, it offers a minor in innovation. In the coming year, UF Online will offer full four-year online bachelor’s degree programs. UF is located in Gainesville.
The College of New Jersey is ranked as one of the most competitive schools in the country and has earned national recognition for the excellence it displays through its students, faculty, and academic programs. Students are encouraged to broaden their horizons through TCNJ’s 150+ extracurricular organizations. An award-winning First-Year Experience and freshman orientation program ensures that students are successful.
Located in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina, NC State offers research opportunities to its undergraduate population, helping to put their studies to practice and allowing them to be more competitive in the job market and when applying to graduate school. More than 34,000 students attend this globally-recognized university.
A major research university, Texas Tech is proud to maintain the feel of a smaller institution. Graduate and undergraduate enrollments are at record levels. The faculty and students are winning international acclaim and they are recruiting and hiring top-flight faculty in a variety of disciplines. The goal at Texas Tech is simple: become one of the nation’s great research universities.
Started as a small private academy in 1743, the University of Delaware has grown to serve more than 20,000 graduate and undergraduate students with associate, bachelor, master, doctoral, and dual graduate programs. UD has state-of-the-art academic and public facilities and offers 21 intercollegiate athletics programs as well as 300 student organizations. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has identified UD as a research university with very high research activity, making UD one of the premier research institutions in the nation.
Auburn is one of the few universities to hold land, sea, and space grants and is among the largest universities in the South. Auburn’s 25,000 students can choose form 140 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in architecture, forestry, veterinary science, interior design, and more. New and continuing students benefit from the college’s academic coaching and counseling and Study Smart program.
SJSU’s beginnings were as a normal school, training teachers to educate the children of the new frontier. Now, the university offers students 134 bachelor’s and master’s degrees with 110 concentrations. Located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, students enjoy SJSU’s varied athletics, recreation, entertainment, arts, culture, and student activities.
WSU has earned national recognition for many of its programs, including its community engagement, research activity, and awards for many of its specific academic colleges. In addition to the main Pullman campus, WSU’s 26,000 students also attend classes in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and globally through eLearning, online degrees, and additional opportunities.
With 100 majors and more than 800 student organizations, students are certain to find coursework and activities of interest here. Iowa State is located in the scenic town of Ames and serves more than 30,000 students. The university’s learning communities, a nationally-rated program that assists students through their first years of college life, boast a 70% new student participation.
Oregon State University is Oregon’s leading public research university, with more than 26,000 students in 13 colleges and nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Oregon State attracts more top students than any other university in Oregon, with more than 2,000 undergraduates participating in research projects every year. The median income of Oregon State alumni is 50 percent greater than the median income of college graduates nationwide.
Since 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has been a national leader in preparing world-class engineers and scientists. Award-winning undergraduate education is enhanced by graduate education and research and development in areas of critical need to South Dakota, the nation, and the world. Our graduates design, construct, and operate the most modern technology to meet today’s complex challenges and are held in the highest regard by their fellow leaders in industry, consulting, government, health, research, and education.
UNC was the nation’s first public university, opening its doors in 1795. Located in the college town of Chapel Hill, UNC is nationally-ranked for its research and offers its 29,000 students a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. Campus recreation helps to round out students’ education with art galleries, an outdoor education center, intramural sports, and more.
The University of Rhode Island (URI) is the largest university in the nation’s smallest state. That means offers the cutting-edge research, discovery, and experiences typically found at much larger institutions, alongside the friendly, student-centered atmosphere of smaller institutions. In 2009 and 2011, The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine ranked URI top in New England for “best return on investment.” In 2013, the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges name URI onto fate national’s most eco-friendly campuses for the fourth consecutive year. And in 2008, URI was listed in The Princeton Review’s Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement.” With more than 100 degrees, interdisciplinary programs, and leading problem solvers, URI inspires its students to provide a constant flow of big ideas to respond to the world’s changing needs.
UMBC is a public honors university with about 10,000 students choosing from 42 undergraduate majors, 37 master’s programs, and 24 doctoral programs. Located 15 minutes from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., UMBC offers a long list of clubs and activities to help round out students’ education.
With an aim to become a model comprehensive university, Cal State Fullerton offers students educational experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Located in Orange County, the university has partnerships with public and private organizations to provide its 37,000 students the best degree programs possible. Services are available for freshmen as well as students needing additional assistance to make the most of their college experience.
Established in 1870, The Ohio State University has been ranked among the top public universities in the U.S. With 175 undergraduate majors and a total enrollment of nearly 65,000, OSU offers a wide range of learning and extracurricular activities to its students. The university’s athletic program is the largest self-supporting athletics program in the country.
At OU, undergraduate students have the unique opportunity to work alongside professors and industry leaders to conduct research projects. Small class sizes add to students’ educational experience, in addition to the more than 450 clubs and organizations available. Located in small-town Norman, the university population still enjoys all the benefits of a big city with a 20-minute drive to Oklahoma City.
UAHuntsville serves about 7,700 students, offering 71 degree programs ranging from bachelor’s degrees to Ph.D. programs. With a student/faculty ratio of 16:1, students enjoy a close relationship with their professors. The university also offers professional and continuing education courses for working professionals looking to improve their marketability in the workforce.
San Diego State University, the region’s largest university, is a major public research institution offering bachelor’s degrees in 89 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 21 areas. With nearly $130 million in annual research funding, a commitment to excellence in diversity and a nationally recognized veterans’ program, the university provides opportunities for transformative educational experiences including undergraduate research, internships and study abroad. Within minutes of downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean, SDSU enjoys a scenic location.
The University of Mary Washington is a premier, selective public liberal arts and sciences university in Virginia, highly respected for its commitment to academic excellence, strong undergraduate liberal arts and sciences program, and dedication to life-long learning. The university, with a total enrollment of more than 5,000, features colleges of business, education and arts and sciences, and three campuses, including a residential campus in Fredericksburg, Va., a second one in nearby Stafford and a third in Dahlgren, Va., which serves as a center of development of educational and research partnerships between the Navy, higher education institutions and the region’s employers.
Located 60 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, UGA was founded in 1785. It serves about 35,000 students, including those attending extended campuses. More than 600 student organizations are available to students and athletes compete in the NCAA Division I program.
LSU is home to numerous nationally-ranked programs. With degree programs in agriculture, veterinary medicine, mass communication, education, engineering, business, and more, students are certain to find a program of interest. Students can enjoy the many museums, music venues, theatres, student organizations, and recreational activities in and around the university.
Oregon Tech, the only public institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest, provides a rigorous, practical education while using cutting-edge application for real-world solutions. To foster student and graduate success, the university provides an intimate, hands-on learning environment, focusing on application of theory to practice. Oregon Tech offers degree programs in engineering, health technologies, management, and the arts and sciences. When you graduate, you won’t just find a job, you’ll launch your career.
A major national research university, Iowa educates more than 30,000 students. A Big Ten athletic school, more than a million visitors flock to the university each year to attend athletic events, participate in conferences and educational programs, or to enjoy cultural and art exhibitions. Students choose from more than 100 areas of study including seven professional degrees.
UB was founded in 1846 and is a flagship institution in the State University of New York system. The student body consists of nearly 30,000 students studying more than 100 undergraduate degrees, 205 master’s degrees, 84 doctoral degrees, and 10 professional degrees. At this research-intensive public university, students may also choose from a wide range of extracurricular activities.
Consistently ranked a good value, Ramapo College of New Jersey offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include nursing and social work. In addition, Ramapo College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels and six graduate programs. Undergraduates choose to concentrate their studies in one of five schools with more than 700 course offerings and 40 academic programs. Ramapo College boasts an average student/faculty ratio of 18:1 and average class size of 23, affording students the opportunity to develop close ties to the College’s exceptional faculty.