WalletHub’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities For 2022

Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan Wolverines, was ranked the best small college town in America by WalletHub. Having a Division I sports team is one of the criteria the financial agency considers in its rankings.

WHICH COLLEGE TOWN IS BEST FOR YOU?

Which college town is right for a particular student really comes down to personal preference. Are they looking to stay close to home or get as far away as a plane will take them? Do they want a large bustling metropolis or a quaint smallish village?

On the one hand, staying closer to home offers financial and logistical advantages. “If you are within driving or commuting distance, for example, you can bring laundry home regularly! Travel back home on long weekends is doable since expensive flights are not part of the financial equation,” says Alexander Jun, professor at Azusa Pacific University.

On the other hand, out-of-state colleges offer new experiences and a greater level of diversity. “Going to another state to study exposes the student to a larger world. For example, kids from small midwestern towns can benefit from living in a more lively urban environment. Out-of-state tuition is higher than in-state tuition at public universities, which is a drawback. But public colleges across America are recruiting out-of-state students aggressively, and young people with good academic credentials (high ACT scores, good grades, etc.) have a very good chance of getting a scholarship,” notes Richard Fossey, professor emeritus at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

BEST VS WORST

WalletHub’s ranking offers a slew of data for students to sift through, if so inclined. Students can parse cities and towns by the factors most important to them.

For example, Richmond, Va., has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental at $732 per month, WalletHub’s analysis found. That’s more than four times lower than in San Francisco where apartments go for $3,198 per month. Savannah, Ga., meanwhile, has the lowest cost of higher education at $17,414 per year compared to Evanston, Ill., at $81,283 per year. And Stony Brook University, NY, has the most enrolled students per capita at 952, more than 23 times higher than in Cape Coral, Fla., with 41.

If money is a major concern, Brownsville, Texas, is the best college town in terms of wallet friendliess on WalletHub’s list. However, it ranks 282nd in social environment and 355th in academics and economics. For students looking for a great social environment, Oxford, Ohio ranks at the top. It also scores high in wallet friendliness (No. 3) and cracks the top 5 in the overall ranking. And for students looking for academic and economic opportunities, Scottsdale, Ariz., deserves a look. It ranks No. 1 in the category and No. 7 overall. However, it only scores 309th for wallet and 140th for social.

SMALL, MEDIUM OR LARGE?

WalletHub also ranks the best cities by size:

  • Large Cities: More than 300,000 people
  • Midsize Cities: 125,000 to 300,000 people
  • Small Cities: Fewer than 125,000 people

Austin, Orlando and Ann Arbor, Mich., top the list for best large, midsize and small cities respectively. On the flip size, the worst cities by size are Oakland, Calif.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Compton, Calif.

See the 10 best and worst cities by size in the charts below. Then, scroll down for WalletHub’s top 50 overall college cities and towns. For more detailed data, go to WalletHub’s full ranking.

 

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