The Most Affordable States To Get A College Degree

Cities with the most student debt

The Most Affordable States to Get a College Degree

College is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime.

If you’re attending school in the U.S., that cost can add up. The average cost of college in the U.S. is $36,436 per year. Considering student loan interest and loss of income, the ultimate cost of a bachelor’s degree can exceed $500,000 according to the Education Data Initiative.

Where you attend college matters too. Some states have considerably lower costs of living and public schools offer far cheaper tuition rates than private institutions. Forbes recently ranked the most affordable states for college students to get a degree considering factors such as tuition rates, living expenses, and unemployment rates.


South Dakota holds the most affordable college experience in the nation. The state’s affordability is primarily influenced by several key factors. Most notably, South Dakota boasts below-average in-state tuition at $9,012 per year, maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 1.9%, and offers remarkably affordable room and board at $8,166 per year

South Dakota has the nation’s lowest living wage, or the minimum income required to support a household. Additionally, with an unemployment rate of 1.9%, the state is tied with Nebraska and New Hampshire for the lowest unemployment rate in the country.


Montana ranked second most affordable on the list, with a low average annual in-state tuition rate of $6,993, annual room and board costs averaging $9,938, and an unemployment rate of 2.3%.

Wyoming came in third most affordable with in-state tuition costs of $4,785 on average—one of the lowest rates in the country. Room and board in Wyoming costs $9,799 on average, and the state has an unemployment rate of 3.3%.


While home to prestigious universities like Yale University, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University, Connecticut ranks the least affordable state in the nation for college education. The state has the nation’s highest in-state tuition—$14,487—and a relatively high unemployment rate of 3.7%. Additionally, rent in Connecticut costs $1,161 per month on average.


California boasts the lowest tuition rate of the bottom 10 states at $24,015 but has high housing costs ($17,076) and living wage ($21.24).

Massachusetts, home to prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Boston College, also ranked as one of the least affordable states. While the Northeastern state has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the bottom 10 states, its housing costs and living wage are among the highest in the country.

Sources: Forbes, Education Data Initiative

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.