“The 25 Most Affordable Colleges”

Money CaptureI am always a little reticent to share these sorts of lists. This one, The 25 Most Affordable Colleges, comes from the Money website. The factors that they use in the selection process include:

  • Financial aid (need, merit, athletic)
  • Tuition inflation (average amount that tuition goes up each year)
  • Typical student graduation time (how long it takes to finish)

One of my challenges with these sorts of lists is that it assumes there are no outside factors beyond cost. While there a few well-known schools (Webb, BYU, Grinnell) on the list below, most are more regional schools. Nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s unlikely that most students would be willing to go very far to attend. Notice that I have said nothing about quality of school; I rather suspect most of these schools are quite good.

I also have concerns that readers will think that the only way to go to school cheaply is to choose colleges based solely on cost. One obvious call-out is that these are all private schools. Clearly, there are many affordable public colleges.

Still, here is the list. It is certainly a good place to start.

Money Magazine’s 25 Most Affordable Colleges

  1. Berea College
  2. Principia College
  3. College of the Ozarks
  4. Webb Institute
  5. Brigham Young University
  6. Mississippi College
  7. Grove City College
  8. Rockhurst University
  9. Presbyterian College
  10. Doane CollegeĀ 
  11. Westminster College
  12. Newmann University
  13. Saint Vincent College
  14. Monmouth College
  15. Earlham College
  16. William Jewell College
  17. Cedarville University
  18. Centre College
  19. College of Our Lady of the Elms
  20. Saint Norbert College
  21. Wabash College
  22. Augustana College
  23. Grinnell College
  24. Lake Forest College
  25. Messiah College

Something to bear in mind with any list is that, ultimately, it is the opinion of a small group of people. Yes, it is likely based on data, but the data points were selected by that same relatively small group.

All that being said, should you take a look at the colleges above? Certainly.

Are these going to be inexpensive options? Not really. The average net price of these degrees is not insignificant. However, nowhere did it say in the article that they would be inexpensive, but only that they would be affordable.

Affordable to whom would be a very good question.

Do you want the better metric for these schools? Go to the article and look at “Average Student Debt.”

Now that’s a good metric to use because you can tell very quickly the schools that are going to be giving you significant student loan debt.

Consider carefully.