AC Online List: Most Affordable Large Public Colleges

Students looking for an affordable college education may want to consider attending a public university. From Hawaii to Vermont, every state in the nation supports at least one public university system. Many systems have several campuses, each with its own identity. Some large states, such as California and Texas, have more than one public university system. Public universities tend to be large institutions with excellent facilities, diverse student bodies, world-class professors and Division I sports teams.

Public universities in each state are funded in part by state taxpayers. While the amount of taxpayer subsidies varies from state to state, the overall result is to lower tuition costs below that of private universities. As the cost of attending private college continues to increase beyond the rate of inflation, the lower cost of public universities has become more attractive than ever.

No college is one-size-fits-all, but large public universities try to meet most students' needs by offering a wide range of benefits, such as:

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, but only $8,893 for state residents at public colleges. Somewhere in between is tuition for out-of-state residents attending public universities, which averages $22,203.

As mentioned previously, public universities receive a large portion of their operating funds from state and also federal taxes. This subsidy, along with the economies of scale associated with large institutions, allow public universities to set tuition rates that are affordable to the average student. Financial aid, loans and scholarships are also available at public universities. The end result is that public university students tend to graduate with less debt than those who attend private colleges.

Public universities generally offer a wide variety of degree programs, from anthropology to computer science to theater studies. Many have affiliated medical and law schools as well. Students learn from professors who are at the top of their field and are renowned researchers, writers and experts. Academic choices abound at public universities and students have access to many majors, minors and concentrations. This type of environment is especially beneficial for students who are not sure what major they'd like to pursue. At public universities, students can explore a broad range of subjects to find what interests them the most.

Public universities can also offer more choices in the way education is delivered, such as online, in the evening or in the summer. This flexibility makes it easier to work and attend college or to schedule individualized internships, study abroad and travel. Many large public universities offer specialized programs, such as honors program, that permit students to learn in smaller groups from the best professors. They are also more likely to offer dual-degree programs where students can graduate with both a bachelor's and master's degree.

In addition to receiving government funding, public universities collect tuition and benefit from endowments. They tend to receive significant support from individuals and businesses in their region, both alumni and community supporters. The combination of these resources provides these institutions with the financial leverage to build and expand their facilities on an ongoing basis.

Consequently, many of the larger universities in the United States are home to cutting edge research facilities, science labs, teaching hospitals and libraries. Public universities offer significant physical resources, including state-of-the-art dorms, performing arts centers and sports facilities. Student centers, activity facilities and social spaces tend to be numerous, comfortable and inviting.

A broad range of educational options and excellent facilities attract a broad range of students and faculty. Students at large public universities study alongside others with different ideas, opinions, abilities and lifestyles. Students and faculty come from other countries and cultures, creating a unique mix of talent and worldviews that enrich everyone's experience.

Most public universities are also research universities. In fact, the U.S. public university system attracts researchers from all over the world who wish to work with award-winning faculty. Because of their excellent facilities and world-class faculty, public universities tend to be awarded a fair share of available research grant money. This means students have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research as part of their education.

Many students find they need to work while attending college as a way to supplement their income. Because of their large size, opportunities for student employment abound at public universities. Furthermore, because large schools usually boost the local economy and create jobs, opportunities for off-campus work also tend to be plentiful.

A public university's sports teams tend to play a large part in the school's identity, particularly at NCAA Division I schools. The university community rallies around its teams and students are excited to attend games, pep rallies and homecoming activities. Sports can create a sense of unparalleled camaraderie across the school's community.

State schools generally enjoy excellent reputations with employers. In fact, a Wall Street Journal article reports that "State universities have become the favorite of companies recruiting new hires because their big student populations and focus on teaching practical skills gives the companies more bang for their recruiting buck." As a result, employers are forging deeper relationships with public universities to aid their recruiting efforts.

Read More

The Most Affordable Large Public Colleges

Attending a public college is a great way to get a world-class education at a lower cost than through a private school, and larger schools mean more opportunity for academic exploration. The schools below educate thousands of students by offering robust programs ranging from physics to business administration and fine art, and are found all across the United States.

$ 9,208

Arizona State University

University Drive and Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85287

Arizona State University is a school located in Tempe, Arizona. The school has a variety of high quality accredited academic programs. The school features a number of campuses focusing on different specialties throughout the Tempe and Phoenix area. The school offers classes in a variety of different areas including anthropology, physics, philosophy and sociology.

$ 7,296

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama, Auburn University, AL 36849

Enrollment at Auburn University is more than 25,000, and students who are at the school are able to choose from more than 140 different degree options. They have programs for undergraduates, graduates, and even professional degrees at the school. Students will find majors in agriculture, education, business, nursing, liberal arts, and more at this university in Auburn, Alabama.

$ 7,912

Ball State University

2000 University Ave, Muncie, IN 47306

In Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University is offering 180 undergraduate majors, as well as 100 master’s degree programs and doctoral degree programs. The school is able to offer education in a variety of different areas including nursing, education, and telecommunications. Campus life is fun and full of activities for those who attend the school.

$ 3,724

Boise State University

1910 University Dr, Boise, ID 83725

Boise State University is a public university located in the heart of metropolitan Boise, Idaho. The school has an enrollment of more than 22,000 students, which help to make Boise State a culturally diverse campus. Students will be able to choose from a number of different majors and areas of study at the school including everything from accounting to visual arts.

$ 5,472

California State University-Fullerton

800 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831-3599

Cal State Fullerton is one of the top teaching and research universities in the nation today, and they are able to offer affordable programs for undergraduates and graduates. Located in the city of Fullerton in Orange County, this California State University offers a great campus, plenty of activities for students, and many different areas of study.

$ 5,472

California State University-Long Beach

1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0115

Driven by research, great professors and staff, and a body of students ready to learn, California State University at Long Beach remains one of the best schools in the West. Great weather, a great location, and many academic programs help to make the university a top choice. Some of the popular programs include business, engineering, and education.

$ 9,716

Central Michigan University

106 Warriner Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859

Central Michigan University, founded in 1892, is in the town of Mount Pleasant. While the school was originally for teachers and business education, it has grown to become the fourth largest Michigan institution and one of the 100 largest universities in the country. The school offers programs in business admin, fine arts, medicine, graduate studies, and more.

$ 6,307

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

102 Administration Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0100

Colorado State University in Fort Collins has a beautiful campus and a great community. The school offers many activities onsite and in the area that students can enjoy, and they will have a rich academics program as well. The school offers more than 250 different programs for undergraduates and graduate students.

$ 5,130

CUNY Hunter College

695 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065

Students who want to live and go to school in one of the largest and busiest cities in the world may want to attend Hunter College, located right in the heart of Manhattan. Founded in 1870, CUNY Hunter College features a range of academic programs that cover everything from nursing to women’s studies.

$ 5,130

CUNY Queens College

65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367

CUNY Queens College is located in Queens, New York, and it offers plenty for students to love. The school, founded back in 1937, is a part of the City University of New York system and offers research opportunities as well as great educational opportunities. Some of the academic choices at the campus include general education, social sciences, and math and natural sciences.

$ 3,348

East Carolina University

East 5th Street, Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Greenville, North Carolina is the home of East Carolina University, a school that has a wonderful athletics program as well as strong academic programs. Students will find many areas of study from which they can choose including business, health sciences, and art. They have programs for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees.

$ 7,409

Eastern Michigan University

202 Welch Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Eastern Michigan University serves more than 23,000 students in their undergrad, graduate, specialist, doctoral, and certificate programs. They have study areas that cover arts, science, business, and much more. The school, located in Ypsilanti, features a wonderfully diverse student body, as well as many campus activities and organizations for the students.

$ 3,580

Florida International University

11200 S. W. 8 Street, Miami, FL 33199

Florida International University, located in sunny, beautiful, and vibrant Miami is the only public research university in the city that can offer bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. Some of the courses of study from which students will be able to choose include business, architecture, health sciences, arts, journalism and law.

$ 3,100

Florida State University

222 S. Copeland Street, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1037

Students who are seeking a great campus and who want to have the perfect undergraduate experience in a state with wonderful weather would do well to consider Florida State University. The school, located in Tallahassee, features a many great programs for medicine, arts and sciences, communications, criminology, education, and many other fields.

$ 9,620

George Mason University

4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444

Fairfax, Virginia is home to a very popular university that has programs and training for graduates and undergrads in a variety of different fields. Students will be able to take courses for accounting, anthropology, criminology, economics, history, and much more. George Mason University has a great location in VA, and is only a short distance from Washington, D.C.

$ 5,826

Georgia State University

33 gilmer st, Atlanta, GA 30303-3083

Georgia State University is one of the top 100 public universities for doctoral degrees, and is a leader in research. The school has more than 250 different degree programs and 100 fields of study. The school, in Atlanta, GA, was founded in 1913. The school currently has nearly 32,000 students enrolled.

$ 9,716

Grand Valley State University

1 Campus Dr, Allendale, MI 49401-9403

Grand Valley State, University is a school located in Allendale, MI. The school has many different avenues of study for students. Some of the most popular options for those students include archeology, accounting, criminal justice, education, engineering and finance. In all, they have more than 200 areas of study at the school.

$ 8,433

Indiana University-Bloomington

107 South Indiana Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405-7000

Indiana University, in Bloomington IN, has been around since 1820, and has a long and storied history. They are one of the top schools in the country and have a beautiful campus on nearly 2,000 acres. They offer educational programs for journalism, library and information science, technology, nursing, music, business, and more.

$ 7,437

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

425 University Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5143

Indianapolis, Indiana is the home of Indiana University-Purdue University-Indiana. Named one of the best colleges in the Midwest, the school features more than 200 different programs from which students will be able to choose. The location, right in the heart of the downtown area, is convenient for students and faculty.

$ 6,408

Iowa State University

3410 Beardshear Hall, Ames, IA 50011-2030

In the heart of Ames, Iowa sites Iowa State University. The school started as an agricultural college in 1858, but now includes a diverse range of academic programs from which students can choose. The university offers 100 bachelor’s degree programs, 112 master’s degree programs, and 83 doctoral degrees. They also offer a professional degree in veterinary medicine.

$ 6,936

Kansas State University

Anderson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506

K-State, founded in 1863, was one of the first land grant colleges in the United States. The school is one of the top research universities in the country, and it is working to become even more prominent. Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS features undergraduate study programs, as well as graduate study programs. They have more than 24,000 students from all around the world.

$ 3,494

Kennesaw State University

1000 Chastain Rd, Kennesaw, GA 30144-5591

The students who attend Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA will find that they have a great campus with student activities and onsite services, as well as a great number of choices when it comes to their academics. The school is able to offer graduate and undergraduate courses of study in many different areas including the arts, business, and science.

$ 9,346

Kent State University at Kent

Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, OH 44242-0001

Since 1910, Kent State University in Kent, Ohio has been providing high quality education for students. The school features a large and diverse student body as well as a number of academic programs, which will help the students to pursue their dreams. Popular programs include the arts, digital science, and architecture.

$ 4,558

Louisiana State University and Agricultural Mechanical College

156 Thomas Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2750

LSU, or Louisiana State University, is one of the most popular schools in the country with some of the best academic programs available. Students will be able to take courses in art and design, engineering, science, humanities, and more. The LSU campus is located in the city of Baton Rouge.

$ 3,809

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Speer Blvd and Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80217-3362

Metropolitan State University in Denver offers many different types of bachelor and master’s degree programs. The campus is in the downtown area and it very convenient for students and faculty. Founded in 1965, the university now enrolls close to 23,000 students. The campus has real cultural diversity and it offers many areas of study including 55 majors, 90 minors, and 40 certificate programs.

$ 12,769

Michigan State University

, East Lansing, MI 48824-1046

Michigan State University has been operating for more than 150 years, providing students with many different types of opportunities in various fields of study. Some of the options for study include agriculture, accounting, anthropology, forensic science and nursing. The beautiful and historic campus of MSU is located in East Lansing, MI.

$ 5,256

Middle Tennessee State University

1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Founded back in 1911, Middle Tennessee State University started as one of three state normal schools for training teachers. Today, the school has a great campus in Murfreesboro, TN and offers academic programs in a number of different fields including liberal arts, communication, business, education, and much more. They offer bachelor’s degrees, as well as master’s degrees, and doctorates.

$ 5,153

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

2101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27695-7001

North Carolina State University at Raleigh has more than 34,000 students today, and they are pursuing a wide range of academic programs including social sciences, design, veterinary medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and more. The Raleigh campus offers plenty of recreational and cultural activities for the students to engage with as well.

$ 6,514

Northern Arizona University

Knoles Drive, Babbitt Administrative Center, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4132

In Flagstaff, Arizona, Northern Arizona University remains one of the strongest schools in the state. They offer undergraduate, graduate, and master’s degree programs, and it is possible to find courses of study for business, management, education, the social sciences, and more. The school also offers doctoral programs, not to mention a recreation center and plenty of campus activities.

$ 7,605

Northern Illinois University

1425 W. Lincoln Hwy., Dekalb, IL 60115-2828

Chartered in 1895, the university educated its first students in 1899. At that time, it was the Northern Illinois University was actually a State Normal School for teachers. Now, the university offers programs for undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral candidates in a number of areas. Some popular majors include kinesiology, journalism, and communications.

$ 10,037

Ohio State University-Main Campus

190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210

The main campus for The Ohio State University is found in Columbus, and the school offers a wide variety of different classes and courses of study. Some of the popular options include health, chemistry, and linguistics, arts & sciences, and engineering. Students will have many options when they go to school at Ohio State.

$ 9,936

Ohio University-Main Campus

020 Chubb Hall, Athens, OH 45701-2979

Ohio University’s main campus is in Athens, OH, and features a number of organizations and programs for student enrichment. The diverse campus is also the home to many different academic programs including business, fine arts, education, communication, and more. The school offers studies for undergraduates as well as for graduates.

$ 4,303

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

107 Whitehurst, Stillwater, OK 74078-1015

Situated in Stillwater, OK, Oklahoma State University features a great campus with plenty of activities and organizations for students to enjoy. The school has great educational opportunities as well. Some of the prominent fields for study include arts and sciences, engineering, human sciences, and agricultural sciences. They have graduate study programs as well.

$ 4,027

Old Dominion University

5115 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23529

Norfolk, VA is home to Old Dominion University, one of the most popular schools in the state. ODU was founded in 1930 as a division of William and Mary, but became an independent university in 1962. The school has a number of courses for undergraduate study and it is one of the top 100 universities for graduate schools in education.

$ 6,228

Oregon State University

1500 S.W. Jefferson, Corvallis, OR 97331

OSU, or Oregon State University, is one of the top research universities in the northwest, and it only about 90 miles south of Portland. The school is on a 400-acre main campus in the city of Corvallis, and it offers a number of fields of study for those who attend. Some popular options include agricultural science, engineering, forestry, and liberal arts.

$ 15,124

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

201 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802-1589

Pennsylvania State University’s main campus is in University Park, PA and offers a robust athletics and education program on a great campus. Founded all the way back in 1855, the university offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in a variety of different fields including arts and architecture, nursing, engineering and education.

$ 6,156

Portland State University

724 SW Harrison, Portland, OR 97201

The 50-acre campus of Portland State University is in downtown Portland, OR. The school has a beautiful campus and a great location, both of which help to foster learning. PSU offers more than 220 undergraduate, master’s programs and doctoral degree choices for students to pursue. It is the largest and most diverse university in Oregon.

$ 8,893

Purdue University-Main Campus

Hovde Hall of Administration, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040

The main campus of Purdue University is in West Lafayette, Indiana, and it has been in existence since 1869. The school offer nearly 200 different majors, and it is possible to pursue careers in engineering, healthcare, business, law, visual arts and design, writing and communication, and more. The Big Ten university has more than 30,000 undergraduate students.

$ 10,104

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

83 Somerset St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281

As one of the oldest schools in the nation, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ still provides students with the best in education. The school features more than 100 undergraduate programs of study, and they provide a great emphasis on science and the arts. The school also features a number of graduate programs.

$ 5,472

San Diego State University

5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA 92182

Situated just outside one of the most vibrant cities in the country, San Diego State University features a wide range of different programs on a beautiful campus. The school has programs for undergrads and graduates who are pursuing many different areas of study. Some of the popular programs include aerospace engineering, physics, television, film and new media, and sociology.

$ 5,472

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

San Francisco State University began in 1899 as a two-year teacher training college, but today, they offer a wide range of different degrees and areas of study including fine arts, music, science, and public health. The campus offers a great location so students will be able to enjoy all of the arts and culture the city has to offer.

$ 5,472

San Jose State University

1 Washington Sq, San Jose, CA 95192-0001

Situated on 154 acres in the downtown area of San Jose, the San Jose State University has a wonderful campus and a convenient location. The university offers more than 134 different bachelor’s degrees, as well as 110 master’s degrees. Popular programs include the behavioral sciences program, computer engineering, and creative arts.

$ 5,270

Stony Brook University

310 Administration Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794

Stony Brook University is recognized for its innovative programs, groundbreaking discoveries and integration of research with undergraduate education. Sitting on 1,039 acres on the beautiful North Shore of Long Island, 60 miles east of Manhattan, the school is home to more than 24,000 culturally diverse students.

$ 13,006

Temple University

1801 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6096

Temple University features more than 100 undergraduate programs amongst their nine different campuses. They also feature graduate and professional degrees. Temple University has a great main campus that embraces art and culture, and students will always have plenty of activities from which to choose. The campus is located in Philadelphia, PA.

$ 5,297

Texas A&M University-College Station

805 Rudder Tower, College Station, TX 77843-1244

Located in College Station, Texas, the famed Texas A&M University is able to offer students a number of benefits. The school is the sixth largest in the country and is home to more than 50,000 students. Some of the popular programs at the university include architecture, liberal arts, business, and science. They have great graduate programs as well.

$ 5,226

Texas State University-San Marcos

601 University Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666

When it comes to athletics and academics, it is hard to surpass Texas State University in San Marcos. The school offers a great campus and plenty of opportunities for recreation and study. The university features some wonderful academic programs including agriculture, criminal justice, economics, health and wellness, psychology, and much more.

$ 4,699

Texas Tech University

Broadway and University Avenue, Lubbock, TX 79409-5005

More than 30,000 students are enrolled at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. The school has a wonderful faculty as well as some of the best academic programs, including more than 150 undergraduate programs. Some of the areas of study at the school include education, business communication, humanities and cultures, and natural resources.

$ 8,600

The University of Alabama

739 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0166

Home of the Crimson Tide, the University of Alabama has more to offer than just athletics. The school has been a fixture in the state since its founding in 1831 as the first public collect in the state. Located in Tuscaloosa, the school offers a number of different majors from art and biology to marketing and religious studies.

$ 7,224

The University of Tennessee

527 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996

The University of Tennessee features a main campus in Knoxville, but it has others in Chattanooga and Martin, as well as the Health Science Center. UT is one of the top public universities in the country, and it is the largest research institution in the state. The school has eleven colleges and provides more than 300 programs for graduate, undergrad, and professional degrees.

$ 8,878

The University of Texas at Arlington

701 S. Nedderman Dr., Arlington, TX 76013

With enrollment at more than 33,000, the University of Texas at Arlington remains one of the most popular public universities in the state of Texas. The school has a reputation as being one of the premier research universities in the country. They have programs for undergrads and graduates in engineering, business, art, and much more.

$ 9,794

The University of Texas at Austin

2400 Inner Campus Drive, Austin, TX 78712

With a total weighted rank score that puts them at #8 on our list, The University of Texas at Austin is one of the top educational facilities in Texas. The school has a long and storied history, founded all the way back in 1883. Those who are going to the school will be able to achieve a variety of different graduate and undergraduate degrees, as well as law degrees.

$ 4,626

The University of Texas at San Antonio

One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249-1644

UTSA, or the University of Texas – San Antonio, features a great campus near the heart of the city. It sites on 725 beautiful acres. The school has more than 30,000 students in a variety of different programs. Some of the popular academic areas for students include architecture, business, engineering, and science.

$ 5,270

University at Buffalo

12 Capen Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-1660

Students will find more than 400 different degree programs at the University of Buffalo in New York. The can study in many different areas including geological sciences, history, civil engineering, music, nursing, and much more. The campus offers student organizations and activities and allows students to express and appreciate their diversity.

$ 8,004

University of Akron Main Campus

302 Buchtel Common, Akron, OH 44325-4702

Students are going to be able to choose from more than 300 different degree programs at the University of Akron. The school’s main campus in Akron, OH provides students with a safe place to learn and more than 200 student organizations to explore. Choose from many fields including accounting, biology, and business management.

$ 8,364

University of Arizona

1401 E University, Tucson, AZ 85721-0066

Students who choose to go to the University of Arizona will be able to choose from some of the best academic programs in the country. They have more than 300 undergrad programs from which they can choose. The campus is in Tucson, and offers plenty of options for rest, recreation, and study.

$ 11,220

University of California-Berkeley

200 California Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720

The University of California at Berkeley has a wonderful reputation and as many of the top doctoral programs in the country. They have a variety of areas of study for undergraduates and graduates, and have a beautiful campus located in the town of Berkeley. Students who attend will be able to partake in all of the school’s extracurricular offerings as well.

$ 11,220

University of California-Davis

One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8678

Ranked number 8 amongst the top public research universities in the country, University of California – Davis is one of the best schools in the state of CA. The public university has a great reputation and is able to provide a number of academic programs for their students. Some of the most popular majors at the school include chemistry, applied physics, and design.

$ 11,220

University of California-Irvine

501 Aldrich Hall, Irvine, CA 92697

Since 1965, the University of California at Irvine has been providing wonderful educations and ample research opportunities in Southern California. Today, the school has more than 28,000 undergrad and grad students who are receiving an education in many different academic areas. The school has a reputation as being one of the best in the nation.

$ 11,220

University of California-Los Angeles

405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1405

UCLA has a reputation as being one of the best schools in the country, and with good reason. The University of California – Los Angeles has been around for nearly 100 years and in that time, has produced 12 Nobel Prize winners amongst their alumni. The school features more than 5,000 courses and 125 different majors.

$ 11,220

University of California-San Diego

9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093

Located in the gorgeous setting of La Jolla, just a short distance from San Diego, is the University of California – San Diego. The school has more than just a great location. They have a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs including bioengineering, literature, music, nano-engineering, psychology, and the visual arts.

$ 3,848

University of Central Florida

4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816

Located in Orlando, the University of Central Florida has plenty to offer those who attend as a fulltime or part time student. Some of the popular programs available at the school include hospitality management and business. The main Orlando campus has 1,415 acres featuring lakes, woods, and even an arboretum.

$ 8,805

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

2624 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0063

A public research university, the University of Cincinnati, based in Cincinnati, Ohio features an enrollment of more than 42,000 students. The school has a great location, and a robust academic system that features a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and university honors programs. Some of the popular areas of study include art, design, medicine, and education.

$ 7,672

University of Colorado Boulder

Regent Drive at Broadway, Boulder, CO 80309-0017

The University of Colorado in Boulder has the distinction of being one of only 34 public universities in the United States that is a member of the AAU – the Association of American Universities. The school opened in 1877, and in that time, produced four Nobel laureates. The school offers programs in social sciences, natural sciences, business, and more.

$ 8,256

University of Connecticut

352 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 6269

The University of Connecticut, located in the town of Storrs, features a diverse campus culture with students coming from many different places. The university has a great reputation when it comes to the strength of their academics program. Students will be able to choose from many areas of study including law, medicine, business, and engineering. They have graduate and undergrad programs.

$ 4,060

University of Florida

355 Tigert Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-3115

The University of Florida is the oldest university in the state, and it happens to have courses in a number of different areas of study. It is possible for students to study journalism, fine arts, education, nursing, and more when they choose this school. The University of Florida is in Gainesville.

$ 6,676

University of Georgia

Administration Building, Athens, GA 30602

Georgia was the first state to charger a state university, and that school was the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Those who attend the school will become a part of the university’s long and rich history. Some of the popular programs at the university include journalism, law, education, arts and sciences, and veterinary medicine.

$ 5,173

University of Houston

212 E. Cullen Building, Houston, TX 77204-2018

Located in Houston, TX, the University of Houston has been around for more than 90 years and is one of the top research universities in the state. More than 40,000 students receive education at the school each year, and they have more than 300 different academic programs from which they can choose.

$ 9,879

University of Illinois at Chicago

601 S Morgan, Chicago, IL 60607

One of the top research universities in the country is right in the heart of Chicago. The University of Illinois - Chicago has 27,580 students. The university offers 82 bachelor’s degree programs, 93 master’s degree programs, and 67 doctoral programs. Popular areas of study include kinesiology, science, criminology, art and architecture.

$ 11,847

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

601 E John Street, Champaign, IL 61820-5711

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign features some rather prominent alumni, including Nobel and Pulitzer winners, astronauts, and corporate leaders. The school has a wonderful campus, and features a variety of educational programs in health sciences, engineering, education, business, law and more. They are one of the leading public universities in the country.

$ 6,436

University of Iowa

101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242-1316

The University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, provide students with a large number of different areas of study for graduate and undergraduate degrees. They have programs for applied physics, art history, mechanical engineering, podiatry, and much more. The University has a diverse makeup of students, and a great campus.

$ 7,611

University of Kansas

Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230, Lawrence, KS 66045

Located in Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas has been training students since 1854. They are the top ranked school in the country for special education, as well as for city management. Students who go to the school can find education in law, business, nursing, and more. They have more than 190 undergrad programs and nearly 50 graduate programs.

$ 8,122

University of Kentucky

South Limestone, Lexington, KY 40506-0032

The University of Kentucky is a public university that strives to provide excellent educational opportunities and research. The university, located in the city of Lexington, has a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Areas of education that prove popular at the university include communications, design, education, law, medicine, and social work.

$ 6,966

University of Maryland-College Park

, College Park, MD 20742

At the University of Maryland, students are going to be able to engage in a wide range of different programs and courses for study. The school has some of the best programs for architecture, bioengineering, computer science, finance, philosophy and more. The campus is in College Park, MD, and offers a great location for students.

$ 1,714

University of Massachusetts Amherst

374 Whitmore Building, Amherst, MA 1003

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is on nearly 1,450 acres of land in the Pioneer Valley. The campus is just 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from NYC. The school has more than 28,000 students, and features 108 bachelor’s degree programs, 76 master’s degree programs, and 50 doctoral programs.

$ 6,144

University of Memphis

Southern Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152

The campus for the University of Memphis, founded in 1912 as the West Tennessee Normal School, is on 1,607 acres and includes 237 buildings across eight different sites. The school has more than 22,000 students receiving an education in a variety of different areas. Some of the academic programs including anthropology, art, design, and psychology.

$ 12,440

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

503 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan offers a beautiful campus and a wonderful academics program. Started in 1817 in Detroit, the school moved to Ann Arbor in 1837, when Michigan became a state. The school has many areas of study, including business, music, theatre, education, architecture and nursing.

$ 11,650

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

100 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0213

The campus is right near the center of the Twin Cities, and it offers students plenty. Those who choose to study at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities will find that it is one of the largest schools in the country and they are able to offer degrees and doctorates in many different fields of study including business to engineering.

$ 7,848

University of Missouri-Columbia

105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211

In Columbia, Missouri, the University of Missouri, or “Mizzou” stands as one of the best schools for academics and athletics. Founded in 1839, the school has a great reputation when it comes to teaching as well as research. Some of the programs at the school include business admin, information technology, mathematics, and journalism.

$ 6,248

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

14th and R St, Lincoln, NE 68588

In Lincoln, NE, you will find the University of Nebraska, a school that has been educating students for 143 years. Founded in 1869, the school has a number of difference programs, and it is one of the top research universities in the country. The school offers majors in history, nutritional science, culinary science, sociology, and more.

$ 5,812

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

4505 S Maryland Pky, Las Vegas, NV 89154

UNLV, or the University of Nevada – Los Vegas, is a popular school that has been holding class since 1957. Today, they have more than 28,000 students, and they offer a wide range of academic programs. Some of the areas of study available include art history, electrical engineering, finance, management, marketing, and nursing.

$ 4,651

University of New Mexico-Main Campus

1700 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

In 1889, the University of New Mexico was founded. The school now sits on close to 800 acres near old Route 66, and it right near the center of bustling Albuquerque. The campus has an architectural design reminiscent of pueblo designs, giving it a unique look. The school offers programs in medicine, engineering, and much more.

$ 5,128

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opened to students in 1795, making it one of the older universities in the United States. The school is in the beautiful town of Chapel Hill, and features a wonderful campus with great academic programs. Some of the areas of study that are quite popular include education, law, medicine, and social work.

$ 3,242

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

Students who choose to enroll at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte will find hundreds of different academic programs and study options from which to choose. The school has more than 25,000 students and a great location the largest city in the state. The campus is gorgeous, and students will find a number of organizations they can join to make their college experience even more memorable.

$ 5,884

University of North Texas

Chestnut Ave., Denton, TX 76203-1277

One of the largest universities in the country, and one of the top schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the University of North Texas truly does have a lot to offer their 36,000 students. The school, located in Denton, features 97 bachelor’s, 82 master’s, and 35 doctoral degree programs in business, visual arts, music, and much more.

$ 8,705

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

660 Parrington Oval, Norman, OK 73019-3072

In the town of Norman, Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma features a great campus and a wonderful art collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum or Art and the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. The school offers many different areas of academic study such as engineering, medicine, and arts and sciences.

$ 7,551

University of Oregon

110 Johnson Hall, Eugene, OR 97403

The University of Oregon began in 1876, and it has gone on to become one of the most important universities in the west. The school is in Eugene, OR on a 295-acre campus. The students and the faculty come from many different backgrounds, and this helps to perpetuate diversity at the school. The school has more than 300 academic programs, as well as 25 research centers and institutes.

$ 15,272

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

The campus for the University of Pittsburgh features 132 acres in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. This school, founded in 1787, happens to be one of the oldest universities in the nation. Today, the school continues its tradition of providing quality education and offers many undergraduate programs, as well as graduate and professional programs.

$ 9,768

University of South Carolina-Columbia

Columbia-Campus, Columbia, SC 29208

At the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus, they offer more than 324 different degree programs. The school has a history that goes back more than 200 years and started with just a single building. Today, they are one of the largest universities in the state and have many different areas of study for prospective students and graduate students.

$ 5,726

University of South Florida-Main Campus

4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33620-9951

The University of South Florida is on the west coast of the state in gorgeous Tampa Bay. The public university happens to be one of the largest in the country and is in the top 50 universities in the country. They offer more than 230 degree programs for undergrads, graduates, and doctoral candidates.

$ 5,850

University of Utah

201 Presidents Circle, ROOM 203, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9008

In Salt Lake City at the University of Utah, students will be able to enjoy a beautiful, culturally rich and diverse campus with a great location. The university is one of the top schools in the world, and has a number of different programs and courses for students. They can take accounting, art, biomedical engineering, computer science, and much more.

$ 9,240

University of Virginia-Main Campus

1827 University Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville is still has the second spot for the best public university in the country according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the school has been preparing students ever since. Students will find many different areas of study including education, medicine, and architecture.

$ 9,746

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, WA 98195-4550

The University of Washington has a history dating back to 1861, when it was founded. The multi-campus university has sites in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, with Seattle being the home of the main campus. The school offers more than 1800 undergraduate courses. The university serves more students than any other in the northwest.

$ 8,592

University of Wisconsin-Madison

500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, WI 53706-1380

The University of Wisconsin in Madison is a quality public school that offers a wonderful and varied academic program for students. Those who attend the school will be able to find courses and programs for the arts, business, music, nursing, medicine, social work, and more. Students can find graduate and undergraduate programs available.

$ 7,669

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

2200 E Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

Students who are looking for a great school in Wisconsin will find that the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has what they need when it comes to academics and a great campus. The school has more than 180 different programs for undergrad, graduate, and doctoral students who are looking for a great education.

$ 4,412

Utah State University

Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-1400

Utah State University has more than 200 student clubs and organizations, a great athletics department, and the state’s oldest residential campus. The school also offers wonderful programs for academics including criminal justice, operations management, parks and recreation, and much more. The school’s campus is found in Logan, UT, and is a great place for students to learn in a safe environment.

$ 7,600

Virginia Commonwealth University

910 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23284-2512

As one of the most prominent research universities in the country, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA offers students rich academic opportunities and a great campus life. The school offers more than 200 different specialty areas, and enrolls more than 31,000 students. They have programs for advertising, arts, science, creative writing and much more.

$ 8,852

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

222 Burruss Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0131

Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA, features eight colleges and a graduate school, and students are able to choose from 65 different bachelor’s degree programs. They have 150 master and doctoral programs. The school has 31,000 enrolled full time students, and a campus that features more than 125 buildings on 2,600. It even has an airport.

$ 9,374

Washington State University

French Administration Building, Pullman, WA 99164-5910

Nearly 25,000 students go to Washington State University across all of their campuses. The Pullman campus has nearly 20,000 students alone. The university is able to offer 95 majors for undergrads, 66 master’s degree programs, 47 doctoral degree programs, and 2 professional degree programs. The professional degrees include pharmacy and veterinary science.

$ 5,674

West Virginia University

Stewart Hall, 1500 University Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26506-6201

In Morgantown, West Virginia stands the beautiful campus of West Virginia University. Students will find a number of different academic opportunities available through the school, which features 184 degree programs and 14 academic colleges. Students can study accounting, engineering, applied science, criminology, creative writing, and more. They offer graduate programs and an Honors College as well.

$ 8,762

Western Michigan University

1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5200

Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan has plenty to offer prospective students who are considering attending. The school has a great campus, as well as many different undergrad and graduate programs such as art, biomedical sciences, engineering, marketing, psychology, sociology, and theatre. The school has more than 25,000 students currently.

The Most Affordable Large Public Colleges

What’s the value of a college degree? Students, parents, and analysts alike have pondered this question since the birth of modern higher education. Many want to leave college and make millions; few want to fathom an investment with less-than-lucrative returns.

Yet what if a college degree did mean millions? Not an actual cashier’s check, of course, but in the form lifetime earnings. The money you’d earn as a result of your education would surpass – by millions -- what you’d make had you failed to take the post-secondary plunge. Seem to good to be true? Maybe not.

The following public colleges and universities belong to a very exclusive club: their graduates earn, on average, at least one million dollars more over 30 years than non-degree holders. These 16 institutions represent the absolute cream of the crop, the Top 1% of colleges in the U.S. when it comes to return on investment.

To find the public colleges with million-dollar returns, Affordable Colleges Online analyzed tuition, fees, and graduate salaries for thousands of institutions nationwide. Data came solely from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the Carnegie Foundation, and – the most trusted and reliable sources of college and career information.

To see exactly how the following colleges made our list, please visit our methodology page.

Also see: AC Online: Private Colleges with Million-Dollar Returns


SUNY – Maritime College

6 Pennyfield Avenue, Throggs Neck, New York, 10465-4198

Located at historic Fort Schuyler in Throngs Neck, New York, SUNY Maritime College makes up part of the State University of New York System. In addition to a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, SUNY Maritime offers five different ROTC options, as well as US Coast Guard license and internship programs. The college has a rich curriculum with focus on maritime studies, naval architecture, international transportation and trade, business, and the humanities.


Colorado School of Mines

1500 Illinois St, Golden, Colorado, 80401

Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado School of Mines is a public research institution dedicated to excellence in engineering and the applied sciences. The college has a strong commitment to resource exploration, protection, and management. Mines offers a unique mixture of global research opportunities and smaller, more intimate classroom settings.


Georgia Institute of Technology

225 North Ave, Atlanta, Georgia, 30332-0530

Georgia Institute of Technology, or simply “Georgia Tech”, is a private research-heavy university with degree programs from the associate to the doctoral level. While science and technology comprise the core of the school’s curriculum, Georgia Tech also boasts a wide range of coursework in business and the liberal arts. The university lies in the heart of Atlanta and serves a student body of 21,000.


Massachusetts Maritime Academy

101 Academy Dr, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, 02532-1803

Located on Cape Cod, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy has challenged students with its regimented college atmosphere for more than a century. MMA has a rich collection of maritime-focused degree programs, mostly in areas such as transportation, engineering, industry, and the environment. This co-ed academy strives to graduate both men and women fully prepared to serve the marine industry, the Commonwealth, and the nation.


South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

501 E Saint Joseph St, Rapid City, South Dakota, 57701-3995

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls more than 2,400 students from 32 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for 2012 graduates was $62,696 with a 98 percent placement rate.


New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

University Heights, Newark, New Jersey, 7102

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) presents students with more than 125 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels, respectively. For more than 130 years, NJIT has served as one of New Jersey’s most successful post-secondary institutions, with 98 percent of faculty holding the highest degree available in their fields.


Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T)

1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, Missouri, 65409

Often referred to as Missouri S&T, Missouri University of Science and Technology is a public, state-sponsored school located in Rolla. S&T offers a wide range of academic programs available on campus and/or through distance learning. Missouri S&T has received numerous national accolades for being a “best investment” college, as well as a premier technological institution.


University of California – Berkeley

200 California Hall, Berkeley, California, 94720

Founded in 1868, the University of California at Berkeley is widely known for academic excellence. Forty-eight of the university’s programs have received top 10 rankings nationally, and faculty have 8 Nobel Prizes and 4 Pulitzer Prizes to their names. Berkeley has also contributed or played a leading role in science, technology, and cultural innovation or progress for decades.


California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) – San Luis Obispo

One Grand Ave, San Luis Obispo, California, 93407

Part of the 23-campus California State University system, Cal Poly is a four-year, nationally ranked, public university located in San Luis Obispo, the mid-point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Cal Poly is a distinctive learning educational institution offering their diverse student body a hands-on educational experience, preparing them for today’s technical and scientific world. Cal Poly’s motto is “learn by doing”.


University of Massachusetts (UMass) – Lowell Campus

1 University Ave, Lowell, Massachusetts, 01854-5104

Part of the University of Massachusetts system, UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.


Texas A&M University – Main Campus

805 Rudder Tower, College Station, Texas, 77843-1244

As the sixth-largest university in the United States, Texas A&M is has more than 50,000 students enrolled in more than 120 undergraduate degree programs. While that may sound large, Texas A&M has the “feel” of a much smaller campus, thanks to the culture of friendliness in the Aggie community in College Station, Texas. The university’s high-achieving students are challenged by a top-tier educational curriculum, complemented by numerous international study options, internships and undergraduate research opportunities.


University of California – San Diego (UCSD)

9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, California, 92093

Located in the beautiful city of La Jolla, California, UCSD is not only situated on a spectacular campus but is also one of the nation’s highest ranked academic colleges. As part of the University of California system, UCSD consistently ranks in the top 10 public universities and is one of the nation’s leading public research institutions.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

222 Burruss Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061-0131

A land-grant public university, Virginia Tech’s mission is to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and beyond. With more than 31,000 full-time students, Virginia Tech has the largest number of degree offerings in Virginia as well as a study-abroad site in Switzerland. The university ranks among the top research grant facilities in the nation with $450 million generated for research programs in 2011. Virginia Tech has programs available for nearly every interest with more than 70 undergraduate majors and minors and a whopping 150 master’s and doctoral degree programs.


The College of William and Mary

200 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, Virginia, 23187-8795

The College of William and Mary is proud to be different. The second oldest college in the nation, William & Mary is one of only eight “Public Ivy” universities in the U.S. offering high-quality education accessible to everyone. Students regularly participate in service projects; in a recent year providing 323,000 volunteer hours in the greater Williamsburg area for more than 90 non-profit partners. Students and professors work side-by-side in research programs, allowing students an unparalleled real-world experience.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois, 61820-5711

There’s no doubt that University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students are in a class of their own, and just looking at some of the alumni is proof enough. Students here study in the same halls that once held Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, Olympic medalists, astronauts, and leaders of international corporations. Illinois is a nationally-recognized research facility where graduate students have the opportunity for hands-on work in their future careers.


Stony Brook University

310 Administration Building, Stony Brook, New York, 11794

Long Island’s only public research university, Stony Brook helps to drive the area’s high-tech economy and is one of only 10 universities in the nation recognized by the National Science Foundation for providing research opportunities to undergraduates. Stony Brook recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and has a vision to dedicate the next 50 years to “operational excellence, academic greatness, and building [its] future.”