It's no surprise to anyone headed to college that it can be expensive, but there are some amazingly affordable colleges out there, as well. A new interactive tool released by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 helps users find colleges with the highest and lowest tuition fees, along with the highest and lowest net prices of attendance. While the national average for tuition at four-year schools was $6,397 in 2009-2010, here are some public, four-year U.S. colleges that come in well under that figure (these figures are from the 2009-2010 school year for tuition and fees and do not take into account out-of-state tuition):
1. Haskell Indian Nations University
Located in Lawrence, Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University is the cheapest public, four-year college in the country, with a yearly tuition of $435. The university is classified as a Tribal College, therefore students must generally meet Native American ancestry requirements for admission. The second-cheapest college in the nation, Dine College in Tsaile, Arizona, is also a Tribal College, with a yearly tuition of $805.
2. University of Puerto Rico
If going to college in the Caribbean sounds like the setting of the latest reality show, you don't know about the University of Puerto Rico. The Rio Piedras campus of the university boasts a yearly tuition of $1,320 per year. College in Puerto Rico seems to be a good deal no matter where you decide to learn; out of the ten four-year colleges with the cheapest tution in the nation, six are affiliated with the University of Puerto Rico. As an added bonus, if you're not fluent in Spanish when you arrive, you're sure to be when you leave.
3. Palm Beach State College
Like the University of Puerto Rico, this school is a stone's throw away from the beach. With a yearly tuition of $1,990 a year, this school serves approximately 28,000 students. Located in Lake Worth, Florida, Palm Beach State College primarily offers two-year degrees, however four-year degrees are available, as well. If you're looking for a school with an active athletics program, this college participates in intercollegiate men's baseball, men and women's basketball, and women's softball and volleyball. Programs include visual and performing arts, public administration, homeland security and law enforcement, and 15 health profession programs.
4. College of Southern Nevada
If the beach isn't your thing, maybe going to college in Las Vegas is. The College of Southern Nevada has three main campuses and nine academic learning centers, so students can be as close to or as far away from the action as they want. Tuition comes in at $2,010 in-state, and students from 14 Western states meeting certain requirements will pay $2,550 in 2011-2012 through the Western Undergraduate Exchange. This is quite a discount from the out-of-state tuition price of $8,150. Two other schools in Nevada are tied with College of Southern Nevada in the affordable tuition department: Great Basin College in Elko and Western Nevada College in Carson City.
5. University of Hawaii Maui CollegeCollege in Hawaii? Why not? This is yet another school located a stone's throw away from the beach, located in Kahuliu, Hawaii. Residents pay $2,022 per year at this school, which primarily offers associate degree programs, but also offers nine bachelor's degree programs in business and related services. The school has active organizations and clubs for student government, art, community service, technology, social justice and more. Did we mention it's on the beach? In Hawaii?