The 20 Cheapest Colleges in Kansas in 2023

February 28, 2023 | bestvalue

Cheapest Colleges in Kansas

Choosing a School From the Cheapest Colleges in Kansas

While finding a school with low tuition is obviously important to anyone looking for the cheapest colleges in Kansas, it should not be the only criteria prospective students look at. It is also important to find a school that offers the program that students are most interested in studying. It is also worth considering private institutions, even though they charge higher tuition. These institutions offer a different experience than public institutions and may be right for many students. That is why this list includes the cheapest private colleges and universities as well as the cheapest public colleges and universities.

Why We Only Looked at Four-Year Colleges

Community colleges generally offer the cheapest tuition of any institutions of higher education. However, community colleges also have serious limitations. Students can only get associate’s degrees at these institutions. Most white-collar positions require students to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. This means that many students who start at community colleges end up transferring to four-year institutions anyway. Community colleges are also limited in the fields of study they offer.

Private vs. Public Institutions

As previously mentioned, public universities are almost always more affordable than their private counterparts. However, many private institutions offer generous financial aid packages that can make up the difference in costs. This means that students who are looking for an affordable education can still consider attending one of the private schools on this list. Perhaps none of the public universities in Kansas offers the program they are looking for. Also, many of the private institutions on this list have religious affiliations, and students may want to attend a school that supports their faith.

Rank School Location
1Fort Hays State UniversityHays, Kansas
2Emporia State UniversityEmporia, Kansas
3Pittsburg State UniversityPittsburg, Kansas
4Wichita State UniversityWichita, Kansas
5Washburn UniversityTopeka, Kansas

Top 20 Cheapest Colleges in Kansas


Fort Hays State University

  • Hays, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 71%

Fort Hays State University is not only the cheapest college in Kansas, it is one of the most affordable public institutions in the country. The school is located in Hays in the western part of the state. Fort Hays has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, which is low for a public university. The most popular majors at Fort Hays include Business, Nursing, Education, Criminal Justice, and Information Studies.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $5,280 in-state; $15,360 non-resident
Graduation rate: 71%
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Emporia State University

  • Emporia, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

Emporia State University is another very affordable public university. While the main campus is in Emporia, the school has a satellite campus in Kansas City. Students can choose from 65 different majors. The most popular majors are Business and Education.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $6,797 in-state; $20,714 non-resident
Graduation rate: 43%
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Pittsburg State University

  • Pittsburg, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 49%

Pittsburg State University is located in a small community of just 20,000 residents. The university offers over 150 academic programs to its student population of over 7,000. The most popular programs include Business, Education, Nursing, and Psychology. Pitt State offers students an Exploratory Studies program to help them choose their major.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $7,338 in-state; $18,682 non-resident
Graduation rate: 49%
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Wichita State University

  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 55%

Wichita State University is one of the oldest public universities in the state. There is a 330-acre main campus and there are several satellite campuses in the area. WSU offers over 150 student organizations so that students can volunteer, network, play intramural sports, and more. WSU is known for its top-notch engineering programs.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $8,298 in-state; $17,480 non-resident
Graduation rate: 54.8%
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Washburn University

  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 39%

Washburn University is one of the lesser-known public universities in the state, but it still offers students a quality education at an affordable price. It is located in the state capital of Topeka. The 7,000 or so students benefit from the low student-to-faculty-ratio of 13:1.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $8,704 in-state; $19,456 non-resident
Graduation rate: 39%
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Kansas State University

  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Kansas State University is the oldest public institution in the state. It is located in Manhattan. Its roughly 20,000 students can choose from 250 undergraduate degree programs. Kansas State is known for its active student population, as it boasts more than 450 student organizations.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $10,440 in-state; $26,316 non-resident
Graduation rate: 62.5%
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University of Kansas

  • Lawrence, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

The University of Kansas is the final public institution on our list. It has nearly 20,000 students, and its main campus is located in Lawrence. The students can choose from 142 different undergraduate degree programs. The most popular majors are Business, Nursing, and Education.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $11,166 in-state; $28,034 non-resident
Graduation rate: 62.7%
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Central Christian College of Kansas

  • McPherson, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 29%

The Central Christian College of Kansas is the first private institution on this list. Students can get the small school experience at Central Christian, as the school only enrolls about 1200 students. The most popular majors at this school include Kinesiology, Organizational Leadership, and Psychology.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $20,450
Graduation rate: 29%
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Baker University

  • Baldwin City, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Baker University is actually the oldest institution of higher education in Kansas. It was founded in 1858 by Methodist ministers. Baker is widely considered to be the most prestigious private university in Kansas. Among Baker’s 1,400 or so students, the most popular majors include Exercise Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $29,880
Graduation rate: 63.3%
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Benedictine College

  • Atchison, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Benedictine College is a small liberal arts school in Atchison. It is considered a residential school, as roughly 85% of its students live on-campus. Students can benefit from the low student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $30,530
Graduation rate: 63.4%
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Friends University

  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

Friends University is a Christian institution with an affiliation with the Quakers. It is located in Wichita. Friends is known for supporting adult students through various innovative programs. Among the roughly 1,000 students, some of the most popular majors include Accounting, Non-profit & Public Management, and Human Resources Management.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $29,394
Graduation rate: 57%
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Sterling College

  • Sterling, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 44%

Sterling College is another private school with a Christian affiliation. Sterling is very small, with only 568 students. These students can choose from 22 different undergraduate majors. Some of the most popular majors at the school include Sport & Fitness Management, Communication, Arts, and Exercise Science.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $27,300
Graduation rate: 44%
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Kansas Wesleyan University

  • Salina, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 56%

Kansas Wesleyan University is a small private school with a Methodist affiliation. The 800 or so students at KWU can choose from a full list of academic programs, including Business & Marketing, Education, and multiple Health Sciences-related majors. KWU also offers the only Emergency Management bachelor’s degree in the state.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $29,820
Graduation rate: 56%
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Newman University

  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 61%

Newman University is the third school on this list to be based in Wichita, which is the largest city in Kansas. Newman is a Catholic school with an enrollment of around 1,000. It is known for its business and health sciences programs. In total, Newman offers more than 40 different majors.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $31,906
Graduation rate: 60.8%
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Tabor College

  • Hillsboro, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 48%

Tabor College is a Mennonite-affiliated institution located in Hillsboro, Kansas. It is considered a residential college, as roughly 90% of its 700 or so students live on campus. The low student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 ensures that students get the personalized attention they need in order to succeed.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $29,360
Graduation rate: 48.4%
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MidAmerica Nazarene University

  • Olathe, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 55%

MidAmerica Nazarene University is an institution of around 1200 students with a main campus in Olathe, Kansas (in the Kansas City suburbs). In addition to the universally popular majors of Business, Education, and Nursing, popular majors include Sports Management and Ministry. Students have the opportunity to go on missions trips to many different countries.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $31,786
Graduation rate: 55%
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McPherson College

  • McPherson, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

McPherson College is named after the small town of 13,000 residents where its main campus is located. As you might expect from its small-town location, McPherson has a small student population of around 700. All full-time students must live on campus. Top majors include Mechanical Engineering, Graphic Arts, and Criminology.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $30,077
Graduation rate: 43%
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University of Saint Mary

  • Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 34%

The University of Saint Mary is a Catholic liberal arts school in Leavenworth. It offers around 30 different majors for its roughly 700 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is a very low 8:1. In addition to Nursing and Business, popular majors include Psychology, Criminology, and Biology.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $29,880
Graduation rate: 34%
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Southwestern College

  • Chula Vista, California
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

Southwestern College is a Methodist-affiliated school of around 1300 students. It is located in Winfield, about 40 miles away from Wichita. Southwestern College utilizes technology to the fullest extent, and every full-time student gets a laptop when they matriculate.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $31,650
Graduation rate: 43%
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Ottawa University

  • Ottawa, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 30%

The city of Ottawa, Kansas may have a better-known namesake in Canada, but the Kansas town does have Ottawa University. Ottawa was originally founded to serve the Ottawa Native Americans, but now accepts students from all backgrounds. The most popular majors among the roughly 700 students include Business, Biology, and Education.

School Overview

Tuition per year: $30,805
Graduation rate: 30%
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How We Calculated These Rankings

To come up with these rankings, we considered each school’s yearly tuition rate and its graduation rate. We only considered a school’s in-state tuition rate if the school charges in-state and non-resident students different rates. We reached each school’s rating by taking its yearly tuition rate and adding a multiplier equivalent to the percentage of students who did not graduate. For example, a school with yearly tuition of $20,000 and a graduation rate of 50% would have a rating of 30,000 (20,000 x 150%). Lower ratings result in better rankings on our list.

Representatives of the schools on this list can always contact us with corrections or questions.

If you need to find the right school from this list of the cheapest colleges in Kansas, we can help.

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