Most Affordable Campus Colleges


Getting an Affordable Campus College Education

There are many options when it comes to traditional campus-based colleges. Most of the time we appreciate having such a selection, but sometimes that just makes it more difficult to make a decision. Whether you’re a recent high school grad, leaving home to attend college, or an adult learner returning to the classroom, choosing the right college to attend can be somewhat overwhelming. With some time and research, however, things become a little clearer.

Below we’ve broken down the most important things to think about to help you determine what college best suits your personal interests and academic goals. Learn about the benefits of a campus college, important factors to consider when choosing a college, and the different types of colleges you can choose from. Understanding these categories can help guide you through the process and narrow down your options.

Campus Life: What to Expect

Attending a campus college can be a significant adjustment. You’ll be exploring a new place, meeting lots of new people and learning new things. While college should be fun, juggling all these things at once can be stressful. The biggest adjustments for most students will be time management, socializing and managing finances.

Time Management

One of the best things about a traditional campus college is that there are so many things to do outside the classroom, from extracurricular activities such as clubs and organizations to campus social events to work. These things can greatly enhance the college experience, but they can also easily become distractions. While you should partake in these activities, it’s important to remember why you’re there in the first place—your education. Attending a campus college means you’ll need to manage your time accordingly in order to keep up with everything.

Social Life

Attending a campus college means you’ll constantly be around friends, which tends to blur the lines between home and school, especially if you choose to live on campus. You’ll be encouraged to attend campus-organized events and invited to off-campus parties with friends, on top of going to class, studying and sleeping. Figuring out the best way to balance everything will be important.

Managing Finances

College itself can be expensive, so when you add non-academic costs such as rent, bills and going out to the equation, keeping your finances in order and staying within budget can be a challenge. For some students this may be the most difficult thing about the campus college life.

What Are the Benefits of a Campus College?

There are many benefits to attending a traditional campus-based college. Being physically on campus means that you’ll have easy access to a variety of different services and campus amenities. Additionally, many campus-based colleges and universities strive to create a sense of community so that their students feel at home. When you’re in person, you’ll have access to the following:

Campus Services

When it comes to attending a campus college, there are bound to be some challenges and hiccups along the way, which is why most colleges offer various services to their students. These services are meant to help ease the transition as well as help students through the inevitable roadblocks that will come up. Below are some of the most common services that most colleges offer to students who need help with academic, personal, health or other issues:

Health Centers

Most colleges and universities have on-campus health facilities to treat illness and injuries as well as provide immunizations, conduct medical tests and offer basic medical advice.


Being a college student is stressful. Many students have a difficult time balancing all the new responsibilities while maintaining a decent GPA. Other personal issues can also arise, causing students to feel isolated and depressed. Many colleges provide counseling services to help students through these difficult times and campus-based students can easily drop in between or after classes to find the help they need.

Academic Centers

Most professors hold office hours in which students can drop by to ask questions or get help on class material. Professors, however, aren’t always available right when you need them, which is why most colleges have academic centers where students can find one-on-one tutoring services, study groups and other support to assist them with academic development.

Commuter Services

Some campus-based colleges are commuter schools, which means that a majority of their students don’t live on campus and instead travel to-and-from school when they have class. These schools usually provide special services and support programs to help commuters feel integrated with the campus life and help them make the most of their time when they’re actually on campus.


Despite the social aspect of college, sometimes students have a hard time finding a sense of community at a new school. Many campus-based colleges have various student clubs or organizations on site to help students find their niche. For example, students who like to sing may feel at home joining a campus choir or a cappella group, while dancers might want to join a dance troop. Many colleges also have a variety of religious-, ethnic- or academic-based clubs or organizations.


Sports can play a big role in campus-based college life, particularly at large colleges and universities with varsity-level teams. Whether you’re an athlete yourself or just like watching from the sidelines, campus-based colleges usually offer a variety of club and intramural sports for student-athletes and sports lovers alike.

Choosing a Campus College

There are many different things you should consider before deciding on a college. After all, this is the place where you’ll spend at least two years—it’s important to make sure you pick a college that not only fits within your budget, but is also a place where you’ll be happy and can thrive. The best place to start is by asking yourself what’s important, both academically and personally? Below are some things to consider:

  • Size: Do you learn better in smaller or larger groups? Do you like being part of a large community or do you prefer a more personal environment?
  • Location: How close to you want to be home? Do you want to stay within your comfort zone or do you want to challenge yourself by trying something new?
  • Setting: Do you want the hustle and bustle of an urban campus or do you prefer the quieter environment of a suburban or rural campus? Is college sports a big deal or are you more interested in a campus that’s known for its activism and political environment?
  • Housing options: How are the dormitories set up and what kind of off-campus options are available?
  • Available majors: What are your favorite subjects? Do you want to be able to sample many different subjects or focus on one? What do you want to do after college?

Other things you might want to consider:

  • Sports
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Student body demographics
  • Campus atmosphere

Figuring out what’s most important to you will help make this process easier. From there you can then talk to school counselors and teachers, research online, talk to current students or recent graduates and schedule campus tours to find out which colleges best match your preferences and goals.

Types of Colleges

When it comes to selecting a campus-based college, there are few different options to choose from and the best option will depend on you. Every learner is different and where some thrive others may not.

Public Colleges

Public colleges are funded by state and local governments and typically offer lower tuition rates than private colleges, especially for students who live within the same state. Most public colleges have a broad range of academic offerings in order to meet the needs and interests of a diverse student body.

Private Colleges

Private colleges receive funding from tuition, fees and private sources such as investments or donors. Because these colleges rely on tuition, they usually have a higher sticker price than public colleges. Some of the most prestigious and well-known schools are private such as Stanford, Princeton and Harvard.

Community Colleges

These colleges offer programs two-year programs that lead to an associate degree. They may also offer vocational-technical programs that lead to a certificate. Community colleges cost significantly less than public and private colleges and most have an open admissions process, meaning that anyone who enrolls and has a high school diploma or equivalent will be admitted. Most students who attend community college are commuter students as very few have student housing available.

Four-Year Colleges

These schools offer four-year programs that lead to a bachelor’s degree. Most have offer programs in broad range of disciples, although there are some schools that are specialized—for example, liberal arts colleges or secular colleges. Four-year colleges can be public or private and typically offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

While there isn’t a magic formula for choosing a campus college, having enough information to understand all your different options can help make the selection process less daunting. Consider the information above as well as the following lists for the most affordable small private colleges, large public colleges and large community colleges to help you decide what college is right for you.

Most Affordable Small Private Colleges

Small colleges offer big rewards.

  • Size: 1,000 – 2,000 students
  • Private
  • Tuition: less than $15,000
  • Non-profit
  • 4 year school

Most Affordable Large Public Colleges

Take advantage of in-state tuition at these public colleges.

  • Size: 25,000 – 80,000 students
  • Public
  • Tuition: less than $15,500
  • Non-profit
  • 4 year school