Affordable Small Colleges in the United States

For some prospective college students, nothing sounds more perfect than a school where each class is an intimate setting for learning and the professors know your name. Generally at a small school, classes have fewer than 20 students and professors are more available for personal tutoring and mentorship. It is easier to make lasting connections with both the faculty and your peers.

In order to help students get the education that’s right for them, we’ve compiled a list of 15 of the most affordable small schools in America. Our list includes only top four-year universities, which excludes graduate schools, community colleges, and specialty schools. Our chosen schools have 4,000 students or fewer in order to ensure a tight-knit community and small classes. Their unique histories, locations, and programs are sure to appeal to a variety of interests. The “cost” per year (or two semesters) of each university as listed below includes all tuition and fees of a student taking at least 12 credits per semester. This cost does not include the price of books, food, housing, or incurred fees; the number given is also rounded and could vary depending on major, number of credit hours, and any specialty classes or programs. Remember that many of these universities also offer scholarships and financial aid, so if a particular university seems too expensive, be sure to contact the university to see what extra money is available through financial aid.

 

15. MARYGROVE COLLEGE

DETROIT, MICHIGAN

This liberal arts school’s refreshing diversity and Catholic roots, helps foster a compassion for others, competence in education and understanding, and commitment to making a difference in every student. Marygrove College’s bachelor’s programs include African American studies, art therapy, child welfare, forensic science, modern language translation, sacred music, and many other degrees not typically offered at other small colleges.

Cost: $20,800
Average Student Body Size: 2,000

 

14. LINCOLN MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY

HARROGATE, TENNESSEE

Like its name implies, Lincoln Memorial University was founded in February 12, 1897, as a living memorial to Abraham Lincoln, and as a tribute to Lincoln, this university teaches principles that Lincoln himself worked toward—dedication to liberty, responsibility, service, and an awareness of the importance of high ethical standards. Each of Lincoln Memorial University’s students get to choose from a variety of degrees in the arts and sciences, including nursing. If all this, an average class size of 13, and 1000 acres of historic campus sounds just right, Lincoln Memorial University could be the school for you.

Cost: $20,000
Average Student Body Size: 4,000

 

 

13. HILBERT COLLEGE

HAMBURG, NEW YORK

Hilbert College, which is just a short drive from Niagara Falls, is an independent university founded in 1957. It embraces Catholic values and is committed to strengthening communities around the world. Hilbert College offers a variety of liberal arts degrees and professional programs, including accounting, business management, forensic science, and criminal justice.

Cost: $19,900
Average Student Body Size: 1,000

 

 

12. OHIO VALLEY UNIVERSITY

VIENNA, WEST VIRGINIA

Ohio Valley University is nestled amidst a variety of parks, hiking trails, and river beds in Vienna, West Virginia. Founded in 1958 by members of different churches of Christ, Ohio Valley University is dedicated to giving students opportunities to learn and realize their potential in a Christ-centric community. This university’s programs are mostly centered around business, education, and biblical studies, but there are plenty of majors in math and the sciences as well.

Cost: $19,000
Average Student Body Size: 500

 

 

11. WESTERN STATE COLLEGE OF COLORADO

GUNNISON, COLORADO

Deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains you’ll find Western State College of Colorado, which is not only one of the top 100 colleges of the West (according to Forbes) but one of the top five campuses nationally for health and wellness. Western State has an excellent study abroad program that continues to look for opportunities for students to connect real-world experiences to their education. University scholarships are also available to help students reach their educational goals, no matter how lofty.

Cost: $19,000
Average Student Body Size: 2,300

 

 

10. WEST VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY

INSTITUTE, WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia State University is a historically black school that still plans and implements the ideals of Booker T. Washington, a prominent African American educator, informing students about the global context of slavery and freedom and the ongoing struggles that still exist around the world. This school is not only known for its beautiful campus but its music program and marching band. There is also always something to do with Charleston close by and a plethora of shows and plays that frequent the area.

Cost: $15,600
Average Student Body Size: 2,500

 

 

9. DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

MADISON, SOUTH DAKOTA

Dakota State University is one of the most technologically advanced schools in the Midwest, so it gladly welcomes anyone who isn’t afraid of innovation, creativity, or really anything STEM related. Specifically, this school specializes in computer management, information systems, and other related undergraduate and graduate programs, but it is perfect for those looking for careers in animation or web design as well. With the best technology and over 35 degrees to choose from, DSU will prepare you for a successful career in almost any STEM field.

Cost: $15,000
Average Student Body Size: 3,000

 

8. MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY

MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA

Minot State University might be the third-largest university in North Dakota, but its student to teacher ratio is 14:1, ensuring that the educational resources and opportunities are never lacking. Minot State University is known for excellent online bachelor programs, and interesting disciplines like; bioinformatics, broadcasting, arabic, german, radiologic technology, and theatre. North Dakota’s successful economy also presents students great opportunities upon graduation.

Cost: $10,000
Average Student Body Size: 3,500

 

 

7. WILLIAM CAREY UNIVERSITY

HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI

William Carey University is an accredited school that operated for many years as Mississippi Woman’s College before it was renamed and made co-educational. It was founded in the small city of Hattiesburg. While the city may be small, it is brimming with history and culture. William Carey University offers programs centered around arts and letters, business, education, music, ministry studies, behavioral sciences, and the college health sciences, which includes nursing and physical therapy.

Cost: $9,300
Average Student Body Size: 4,000

 

6. UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND ARTS OF OKLAHOMA

CHICKASHA, OKLAHOMA

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) is not only one of the top liberal arts schools in Oklahoma but it is nationally ranked as well. With  a rigorous curriculum in the liberal arts, this University aims to attract students who want to challenge themselves and excel in their careers. USAO helps students carefully plan classes across a variety of disciplines, including history, mathematics, science, and literature. All courses also teach students to integrate their knowledge and apply it to their career paths in the future.

Cost: $8,700
Average Student Body Size: 900

 

 

5. NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS UNIVERSITY

LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO

Over one hundred years old, New Mexico Highlands University sits beneath the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is known for the multicultural student body, numerous research activities, and the many student and faculty achievements. Using a multicultural approach to curriculum, each of the eight departments aim to combine study with real-world experience to prepare students for future success.

Cost: $7,500
Average Student Body Size: 3,500

 

 

4. AMRIDGE UNIVERSITY

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

Ambridge University was founded originally as a Christian school back in 1942 but has since become a major force as an online higher education. In honor of its Christian heritage, Amridge University is still committed to giving students an education in service, leadership, and Christian ideals. Its main areas of study are divided between five schools: the College of Business and Leadership, the College of General Studies, the School of Human Services, the Turner School of Theology, and the School of Continuing Education.

Cost: $7,000 per year for freshman;
$9,600 per year for all other undergraduates
Average Student Body Size: 600

 

 

3. PERU STATE COLLEGE

PERU, NEBRASKA

Sometimes called the “Campus of a Thousand Oaks,” Peru State College combines the charm of a small town with award-winning programs to make it one of the best colleges in the state. But even if the countryside isn’t for you, the price of this school might be. All students pay the in-state tuition rate, making it affordable for anyone. This school also boasts a wide variety of unique degrees, including degrees in nuclear technology, wildlife ecology, music marketing, and community music and private studio.

Cost: $3,700
Average Student Body Size: 2,500

 

 

2. SOUTH ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY

MAGNOLIA, ARKANSAS

With tuition being a mere $1,100 per year, the adoption of the Academic Quality Improvement Program, a quality-based model of accreditation, in 2010 shows that South Arkansas University is determined to give students an excellent education for a reasonable price. They have many programs in the liberal arts and sciences, including Game Design. There are also opportunities to participate in quality athletics teams at South Arkansas University, and with a myriad of scholarships made available by the university, the already affordable price gets even better.

Cost: $1,180 per year
Average Student Body Size: 3,500

 

 

1. BEREA COLLEGE

BEREA, KENTUCKY

Ever dreamed of graduating debt free? Berea College actually promises each of its students just that. It guarantees each enrolled student a Tuition Promise Scholarship. The university receives so much support from alumni, friends, and organizations that this scholarship can cover 100% of tuition for current students. Additional scholarships are available upon application to cover room and board as well. Education really doesn’t get more affordable than it is at Berea College.

Cost: $0
Average Student Body Size: 1,500