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Top 20 Most Affordable Colleges in Michigan in 2021

March 8, 2021 | Staff Writers

Cheapest Online Schools in Michigan

Affordable or cheap, much like the price of college tuition, is part perception and part verbiage. In light of that, the list of the cheapest (or most affordable if you prefer) colleges in Michigan ranges from postsecondary institutions most can afford, to colleges many can afford. So without further adieu here is our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

Rank School Location
1Jackson College (97 points)Jackson, Michigan
2Grand Valley State University (90 points)Allendale Charter Township, Michigan
3Northwestern Michigan College (89 points)Traverse City, Michigan
4North Central Michigan College (89 points)Petoskey, Michigan
5Southwestern Michigan College (87 points)Dowagiac, Michigan
1

Jackson College (97 points)

  • Jackson, Michigan

What originally began as a part of a school district, and founded as Jackson Junior College, this two-year postsecondary institution has been educating students since 1928. Now, Jackson College not only helps to prepare students for the next step in their educational endeavors, but they help many people begin new careers who might have been out of school or the workforce for some length of time. Reasonable tuition costs and a sterling student retention rate have helped Jackson make a splash on the list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $9164 per year
Retention Rate: 100%
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2

Grand Valley State University (90 points)

  • Allendale Charter Township, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 66%

More than 23,000 students, over 130 degrees available, and that is only the beginning of what Grand Valley State University offers. If there was ever a school that had all the benefits of a major university with the small university feel, it is Grand Valley State. Although the tuition cost at GVS isn’t shocking, it isn’t a drop in the hat either. That prevents this great four-year program from ranking higher but an impressive retention rate assures Grand Valley State University a spot on the list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $12,860 per year
Retention Rate: 85%
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3

Northwestern Michigan College (89 points)

  • Traverse City, Michigan

This publicly funded community college offers a range of programs and degrees while serving more than 50,000 students a year. From two-year programs like associates degrees or certification programs to the pursuit of your bachelors, NMC is an affordable option that boasts of an impressive retention rate too.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $8280 per year
Retention Rate: 71%
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4

North Central Michigan College (89 points)

  • Petoskey, Michigan

As a two-year program designed to help students prepare for institutes of higher education, or to prepare people with skills to begin a new career, North Central Michigan College offers post-secondary education options that won’t require a second mortgage on the house. With almost two dozen programs and many certificate programs, North Central Michigan College would rank even higher with its very reasonable tuition fees, middling student retention rates, however, prevented them from climbing the list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $6321 per year
Retention Rate: 52%
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5

Southwestern Michigan College (87 points)

  • Dowagiac, Michigan

As a public community college that strives to deliver an affordable means for students to obtain many of the prerequisites required for 4-year programs, Southwestern Michigan College has been in the business of helping students since 1964. In addition to serving as a launch point for going on to study at the top universities, SMC has also been able to keep its tuition costs competitive while not sacrificing the quality of education.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $6554 per year
Retention Rate: 51%
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6

Saginaw Valley State University (87 points)

  • University Center, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 39%

Diversity, educational excellence, and community are what define Saginaw Valley State University. This proud university hosts nearly 9,000 students from more than 40 nations and offers a manageable tuition fee. Those facts, added to SVSU’s strong student retention numbers have earned it a spot on the list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $10,814 per year
Retention Rate: 74%
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7

Ferris State University (87 points)

  • Big Rapids, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 49%

This four-year program offers students a great blend of old meets new, with traditional and classic degree and major studies programs, yet affording cutting-edge labs, classrooms, and the latest tools. Ferris State University is one of the many schools on this list that have fair but healthy tuition costs while affording excellent educational opportunities as proven by its strong student retention rate.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $12,068 per year
Retention Rate: 76%
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8

Northern Michigan University (87 points)

  • Marquette, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 44%

Continuing the trend of mid-major schools to make our list, Northern Michigan University like many of its counterparts, offers students the balance of getting a great education while making tuition manageable. With programs and majors in more than 170 areas and more than 30 online-based programs, NMU is doing its part on both the educational and the affordability ends. This, and a three out of four student retention rate makes it one of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $11,255 per year
Retention Rate: 75%
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9

University of Michigan-Dearborn (85 points)

  • Dearborn, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 53%

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is the second U of M campus to make the list. Like the Flint branch, U of M – Dearborn has a manageable if not great tuition rate, but offers many benefits and advantages for students seeking post-secondary pursuits. Touting their learning practices of pioneering research, strategic partnerships, and civic engagements, U of M – Dearborn students are prepared for success long before they graduate. A retention rate of 81% helps to offset its tuition cost, and land the University of Michigan-Dearborn inside the top 20.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $13,304 per year
Retention Rate: 81%
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10

University of Michigan-Flint (85 points)

  • Flint, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 50%

The first University of Michigan campus outside of Ann Arbor, U of M – Flint has been educating minds for 64 years. As a campus branch, the University of Michigan-Flint offers the same quality, resources, and opportunities while providing the convenience and comfort of a place like Flint and for its residents. A retention rate just under 75% also helped the U of M – Flint program to have a place on the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $12,202 per year
Retention Rate: 74%
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11

Western Michigan University (84 points)

  • Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 52%

The highly acclaimed Western Michigan University isn’t lacking in recognition or awards, but that won’t keep it from also earning recognition on our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan. Although it isn’t the most affordable college on the list, its tuition cost does find itself in the middle of the pack. That, along with an impressive 78% retention rate have made it list-worthy, which is just another one of the countless accomplishments WMU can put on its own list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $13,017 per year
Retention Rate: 78%
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12

Carnegie Institute (84 points)

  • Troy, Michigan

If you have an interest in pursuing a career in medicine or in the medical field, then the Carnegie Institue is an excellent option, and an affordable one too. While this isn’t a school for those who seek a career in other realms, it is an institution established for postsecondary education along with training for health support services. While the Carnegie Institute isn’t the cheapest on the list, a robust 100% retention rate still earns it a spot on our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $14,070 per year
Retention Rate: 100%
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13

Central Michigan University (83 points)

  • Mount Pleasant, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

Another notable but surprising school on the list of the cheapest colleges in Michigan is Central Michigan University. This nationally ranked institution offers surprisingly affordable tuition rates while offering students the benefits of leading instructors and advanced learning. CMU provides students with opportunities in areas such as business and communications to health professions and engineering. A healthy retention rate also helps to find Central Michigan University a place in our top 20.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $12,960 per year
Retention Rate: 74%
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14

Lake Superior State University (83 points)

  • Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

This publicly funded and autonomous state university offers small-town university comfort while providing a blend of liberal and technical studies in the amazing setting of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This isn’t an institution based on the beauty of Lake Superior, however, as this is one of three Fire Science programs in the country and is a leading aquatic research institution. With a fair tuition cost and a plus 70% retention rate, Lake Superior State University is another worthy school on our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $12,255 per year
Retention Rate: 71%
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15

Wayne State University (82 points)

  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 38%

Within the walls of the motor city, Wayne State University’s 200-acre main campus has become a part of the city’s fabric and the pride of Detroit. Wayne State University boasts of having 274,000 proud alumni and counting, who work for industry leaders, and is a proven springboard for students seeking professional careers. A considerable tuition fee keeps Wayne State from climbing our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan, but a student retention rate just under 80% helps to earn WSU a spot.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $13,517 per year
Retention Rate: 79%
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16

Michigan Technological University (81 points)

  • Houghton, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

This four-year school is, as its name implies, a university with an eye, focus, and passion for technology. That doesn’t mean, however, that Michigan Technological University doesn’t understand or support the importance of being a well-rounded student. To that end, this technically-savvy institution offers more than 125 degree programs, including those in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and more. The Michigan Technological University makes the list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan despite it’s slightly higher tuition due in part to its plus 80% retention rate.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $15,960 per year
Retention Rate: 84%
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17

Oakland University (81 points)

  • Rochester, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 46%

From the Arts and Sciences to Education and Nursing, Oakland University is proud of its expansive program. Students at Oakland have the opportunity to pursue nearly any career path they want through the exceptional degree programs at Oakland University. The hurdle for this four-year program is a somewhat higher tuition cost than many other schools on the list. The Oakland University student retention rate though was enough to warrant a spot on the top 20 list of the cheapest colleges in Michigan.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $13,346 per year
Retention Rate: 76%
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18

Eastern Michigan University (75 points)

  • Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

Eastern Michigan University might surprise some for making the list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan, but here it is. While this esteemed and well-recognized educational institution needs no formal introduction, with more than 21,000 students and over 150 graduate programs, a surprisingly affordable tuition rate earned Eastern Michigan University a spot. A strong student retention rate also helps this program to make a strong showing on our list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $13,758 per year
Retention Rate: 70%
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19

Madonna University (75 points)

  • Livonia, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 42%

This four-year postsecondary educational institution is one of the most expensive on the list, but still manages to find a spot on our list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan. Madonna University offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in over 100 majors. They also afford graduate students more than 30 master’s programs and have a great nursing program too. Despite one of the higher tuition rates of the schools on our list, Madonna U does boast of a student retention rate above 75%.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $23,100 per year
Retention Rate: 76%
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20

Great Lakes Christian College (73 points)

  • Lansing, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 25%

Associated with the Church of Christ, the Great Lakes Christian College is an ideal option for those seeking to explore or embark on careers in the church or ministry roles. A few of the areas of study available at GLCC include business management, psychology, and bible theology among others. From the church to the public sector, the Great Lakes Christian College prepares students for rewarding and successful careers. An expectedly strong student retention rate, however, wasn’t enough to overcome GLCC’s considerable tuition costs that prevented it from ranking higher on the list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $17,220 per year
Retention Rate: 71%
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Ranking Procedures and Factors

The ranking system used to score the list of the top 20 cheapest colleges in Michigan used three factors in the ranking process. The first factor, not used in the scoring process, was to establish a credible (e.g. accredited) list of Michigan-based schools. The next two factors, rates for tuition and retention (1st-year students) was weighed evenly. The composite of these scores then resulted in the points assigned to each college in the list.

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Misinformation, Oversights, and Outdated Data

The rates and numbers used in this list of 20 colleges are approximations based on the most recent and accurate data available from the National Center for Education Statistics. Any outdated or incorrect information should be reported, as we strive to provide the most accurate, recent, and helpful information possible.

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