This ranking focuses on the 100 most affordable small colleges west of the Mississippi. You may also want to check out our ranking of 100 most affordable small colleges east of the Mississippi.
Have you ever wondered how many universities there are across the entire United States? You might be interested to hear that there are actually over 5,000 postsecondary institutions from coast to coast. Not only that, but the U.S. has more top-ranked schools than any other country in the world! Of course, as much as all students want to attend a great quality school, most also have to consider price. Fortunately, there are plenty of colleges out there that offer great value – that is, an ideal blend of high caliber and low cost.
It wouldn’t make sense to list thousands and thousands of universities in one article, but we can focus our attention on a more limited selection of schools. Since geography and size are both deciding factors for many college applicants, we chose to rank small colleges West of the Mississippi River.
As a first step, we put together a list of all U.S. Universities, and there are thousands! The next step was to sort through this list and eliminate all non-traditional schools (community colleges, online schools, graduate schools, seminaries, etc.). We then sorted the colleges by student population and eliminated any school with more than 4,000 students.
After that, we recorded each university’s location and arranged them by their position East or West of the Mississippi. There are over 200 colleges in the Western portion of the United States, but their tuition rates vary significantly. And since this article focuses on affordability, we still had one more step. Rather than rank schools simply by flat annual tuition rate, we considered a more comprehensive figure – net price. College Navigator, which is a part of the National Center for Education Statistics, supplies this information on its comprehensive data website. Net price is an adjusted figure that considers both annual tuition costs and added fees as well as the average financial aid package per student. However, bear in mind that the actual cost for your education will depend on numerous factors, including annual fluctuations in tuition cost, the number of years you are in school, and the scholarships and loans you receive.
As a final note, you will see that some of the selections below are listed as “regional campuses.” There were some instances in the original ranking where multiple regional locations of a large state university (which are typically much smaller than the main campus) showed up in the top 100. In order to organize the ranking, we chose to list all regional locations as one school. And although we list the main campus location in the heading, we also mention the specific qualifying regional campuses in the description. Furthermore, the net price and student body we list are averages between all of the small, regional campuses – NOT the main university.
100. Waldorf College
Forest City, Iowa
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Waldorf College is featured on our list for combining college affordability with career opportunity. Waldorf features a diverse pre-professional curriculum with bachelors and associates degrees offered in communications, business management, criminal justice, and more. They are also one of the few schools in the country to offer a specialization in Shakespeare Studies. Coursework is available both in-class and online and caters to traditional students as well as adult learners, military members, and veterans. With ample financial aid, free tutoring services, and Veteran’s Benefits, Waldorf invests in their students more than they ask students to invest in them.
Net Price: $19,306/yr
Student Body: 1,150
99. Thomas Aquinas College
Santa Paula, California
What is the value of an education? A job? Money? Happiness? At Thomas Aquinas College, there are no majors, concentrations, or textbooks. Students at this small Catholic college study the classics in Western thought to gain deep spiritual insights and critical thinking skills that enrich all aspects of life. Unlike traditional four-year colleges, every student graduates with the same degree. Students looking for a convenient or expedient education will not find that here. In fact, the value of this education amounts to exactly what you put into it. Students at Thomas Aquinas find solidarity in their pursuit of higher truths, and spend most of their time in the “Citrus Capital of the World” deep in study or prayer.
Net Price: $19,169/yr
Student Body: 366
98. Oklahoma Christian University
Oklahoma Christian University is another school that is bound together by Christian values. Ranked among the best small colleges in the West by U.S. News and the Princeton Review, OCU considers itself a home for its students, many of whom are leaving their lifelong communities for the first time. Inside the classroom and out, students and faculty hold each other to high standards of scholarship and spirituality. Students can pursue a variety of courses of study—from Computer Science to Biblical Studies—under the intellectual and spiritual guidance of distinguished faculty.
Net Price: $19,124/yr
Student Body: 2,421
97. University of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Future Christian leaders will find their calling at USF. Intimate class settings, career and spiritual resources, and competitive tuition put the University of Sioux Falls among the top affordable colleges for students of faith in the West. The curriculum at USF is comprehensive, featuring a particularly robust school of education with concentrations in art education, music education, special education, and more. Students can also select from pre-professional degree tracks or even design their own major. And for graduate students and adult learners, online courses in advanced degrees are available to accommodate long commutes and professional schedules.
Net Price: $19,075/yr
Student Body: 1,408
96. Saint Martin’s University
Located on a 300-acre campus in western Washington, Saint Martin’s University offers all the splendor of the Pacific Northwest as a spiritual antidote to the modern condition. This Benedictine university is one of the most affordable small colleges in the state and features some of the highest campus diversity and best student to faculty ratios around. Students choose their major from one of four colleges: Arts and Science, Business, Engineering, and Education and Counseling Psychology. “ThinkWith Heart” is the motto at SMU, where students cultivate their faith through ethical leadership in service and scholarship.
Net Price: $19,069/yr
Student Body: 1,787
95. William Jessup University
Students looking for a “Christ-centered” college experience in the warmth of California will find an affordable opportunity at William Jessup University. Chapel worship, discipleship, outreach and missions flourish alongside dozens of liberal arts and pre-professional programs. Experienced faith leaders stand at the helm of both graduate and undergraduate courses, acting as spiritual mentors who guide students their respective programs. With low tuition, a low student-faculty ratio, and a robust spiritual community, WJU is one of the most affordable small colleges in California with the biggest heart.
Net Price: $19,019/yr
Student Body: 1,095
94. Northwest Christian University
Ranked as one of the top 25 western colleges by U.S. News, Northwest Christian University is a top small college for Christians of all denominations. Their spiritual leadership encourages all faiths to unite in the celebration of Christ as well as their academic pursuits. Whether students choose to pursue a major in the school of Liberal Arts and Bible or Professional Studies, students accomplish their work among a community devoted to integrity, holy purpose, and love. Associate, Bachelors, Adult, and Graduate degrees are available in over 20 fields and specializations to accommodate Christians from all walks of life.
Net Price: $19,003/yr
Student Body: 660
93. Morningside College
Sioux City, Iowa
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Morningside College is a faith-based, top small private college with many of the resources of a larger university. Morningside is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, Iowa Department of Education, the University Senate of The United Methodist Church, and more – all testaments to their rigorous education standards. In addition to promising degree programs such as Agricultural and Food Studies and Mass Communication, Morningside features a “May Term” between quarters, where students take a brief elective course offered just once a year. Past courses have included wine classes in France, cultural studies at Disneyland, and oceanography on the coast of Georgia.
Net Price: $18,985/yr
Student Body: 2,542
92. Northwest Nazarene University
Students have fun learning to become better people under at God at Northwest University. NU is one of eight liberal arts colleges affiliated with the Church of Nazarene, which provides it with funding to support college affordability and robust spiritual and academic resources. NU features over 60 undergraduate degree programs in addition to masters degree programs, accelerated degrees, and continuing education credits. Students can pursue everything from liberal studies to computer science just twenty minutes from downtown Boise. Meanwhile, spiritual enrichment opportunities are available on campus, from weekly student-led prayer sessions to local service missions.
Net Price: $18,969/yr
Student Body: 2,246
91. Northwest University
Ranked a Best Value Regional College in the West by U.S. News in 2015, Northwest University is a top small private college for Christian students looking for an affordable education. This faith-led university offers over 70 undergraduate degree programs in addition to adult evening and graduate and online coursework. Students can study ministry, behavioral sciences, business management and more on a beautiful, wooded, 56-acre campus on Lake Washington and just minutes from Seattle. Seattle also provides excellent career opportunities for tech graduates through internships at companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
Net Price: $18,923/yr
Student Body: 1,733
90. Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, Iowa
Ranked one of the best values in the Midwest by U.S. News, Buena Vista University is not only an affordable small college in Iowa, it’s a top small college as well. BVU is located just alongside the scenic, 3,200-acre Storm Lake on a pastoral 60-acre campus. Students can pursue undergraduate degrees in Business, Education, Science, and even Exercise Science at BVU, both on-campus and online. Graduate degrees and degree completion programs are also available off- and online to accommodate working professionals and parents. And through its affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, BVU features spiritual leadership and community in academics as well as student life.
Net Price: $18,906/yr
Student Body: 2,399
89. St. Mary’s University of San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
U.S. News is not alone is recognizing the value of an education at St. Mary’s University of San Antonio. Washington Monthly has also singled out St. Mary’s as a leader in ethical service, social mobility, and academic research. What makes this small Catholic college such a great value? The oldest Catholic university in the southwest, St. Mary’s has provided spiritually enriching and career building education in the Marianist tradition since 1852. The numbers don’t lie, either: PayScale.com ranks St. Mary’s among the top five colleges in Texas for post-grad earning potential. This service-oriented, spiritual community produces thought-leaders with integrity and real-world experience.
Net Price: $18,828/yr
Student Body: 3,868
88. Avila University
Kansas City, Missouri
Catholic students looking for an affordable Christian education will find their home away from home at Avila University. The sponsorship and contributions of the Sisters of Saint Joseph allow Avila to provide resources and opportunities that are incommensurate with its class size and student-teacher ratio. From campus ministry to athletics and other student life activities, Avila offers a comprehensive college experience in an intimate spiritual community. Students can pursue liberal arts and pre-professional coursework as well as graduate programs in seven different schools. Avila brings students of faith from around the world to grow as students and servants of God.
Net Price: $18,789/yr
Student Body: 1,971
87. Rockhurst University
Kansas City, Missouri
“Learning, Leadership and Service in the Jesuit Tradition” is what sets Rockhurst University apart from other top small colleges in the Midwest. One of the 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Rockhurst is an abundant resource for spiritual enrichment and higher learning. Forbes has ranked Rockhurst 3rd among regional colleges in Missouri, and U.S. News has recognized this college as well. Dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs and robust student life activities provide members of the Rockhurst community with ample opportunity to pursue their passion and interests.
Net Price: $18,784/yr
Student Body: 2,920
86. Central Methodist University
Central Methodist University brings the resources of the United Methodist Church to the educational needs of students of faith. Offering associate, bachelors, graduate, and accelerated adult degree programs, CMU can prepare you for a career at any stage of life. Marine Biology and Child Development are just two of the unique courses of undergraduate studies that this top small college offers. Students can also pursue their artistic passions through the Swinney Conservatory of Music. Between community-building student life activities, robust academic programs, and low tuition, CMU provides students with all the opportunities they need to develop into career leaders.
Net Price: $18,668/yr
Student Body: 1,107
85. Southwestern Adventist University
One of thirteen colleges affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Southwestern Adventist University provides a unique opportunity to study for your career under faith leadership at a top small private college. SAU is located on a 150-acre rural campus with just 800 students, making it an intimate spiritual and educational environment. And SAU’s small size doesn’t limit its inclusivity; many have recognized the university for its campus diversity, where students can unite under faith in Christ. Certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees are available in dozens of programs and courses, from Kinesiology to Geology.
Net Price: $18,616/yr
Student Body: 808
84. Texas Lutheran University
Ranked 3rd among regional universities in the west by U.S. News in 2014, Texas Lutheran University is one of the top affordable colleges for students of faith. TLU offers degree programs in seven schools, from Arts to the Natural Sciences. Students can pursue a variety of unique majors like Arts for Social Change, Classical Languages, and Aeronautical Science. Class sizes average below twenty students across degree programs, providing close instruction and class discussion. As a community of learning and a community of faith, TLU helps students develop into ethical leaders with a devotion to spiritual service.
Net Price: $18,588/yr
Student Body: 1,341
83. College of Saint Mary
College of Saint Mary is a women’s college run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nebraska. This small Catholic college offers a variety of pre-professional degree programs in fields like medical technology, business administration, and nursing. In addition to traditional college support programs like career outreach and internships, College of Saint Mary also offers resources specifically for single mothers, who can utilize nurseries and medical facilities on campus while they study. They also offer the only American Bar Association approved four-year paralegal studies program and health information studies program in the region.
Net Price: $18,388/yr
Student Body: 970
82. Grand View University
Des Moines, Iowa
Grand View University is a Lutheran institution that features the supportive resources of a greater religious community along with an intimate educational environment. Grand View’s 17:1 student-faculty ratio is not the only compelling aspect of their classes. With campus ministry programs and a spiritually grounded faculty, Grand View’s curriculum teaches students to be ethical community leaders as well as strong academic performers. Students can take advantage of an array of 40 undergraduate and master’s programs, study abroad mission assignments, and career-developing partnerships with businesses like Wells Fargo and the Mercy Medical Center.
Net Price: $18,380/yr
Student Body: 2,129
81. East Texas Baptist University
U.S. News has recognized Eastern Texas Baptist University as one of the best value colleges in the West for a reason: located at the highest altitude in the region, ETBU is at the height of faith-based education while offering the lowest price. ETBU is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to deliver nearly twenty undergraduate degrees in subjects ranging from Kinesiology to Communications. ETBU has also been affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas for over a hundred years of consecutive spiritual mentorship.
Net Price: $18,235/yr
Student Body: 1,247
80. Iowa Wesleyan College
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Iowa Wesleyan College is a top small college with a strong focus on civic engagement and social justice. The college hosts the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, which is dedicated to preparing students to make positive social change. IWC is related to the United Methodist Church, and offers Christian Studies as well as more traditional majors such as Business Administration, Education, and Nursing. The average class size is ten students, which means that students can get plenty of individual attention from instructors. IWC offers classes on-campus, online, and evening classes at community colleges in West Burlington and Muscatine.
Net Price: $18,230/yr
Student Body: 599
79. College of Idaho
The College of Idaho stands out for its unique PEAK curriculum. PEAK allows students to graduate in four years with a major and three minors by replacing general education requirements with self-designed study in the four academic “peaks”—the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the professional fields. This helps students broaden their knowledge and become more adaptable in their future careers. With 26 majors and 55 minors, students at this top affordable college have of options at their feet. The College of Idaho builds a strong community through small classes, a First Year Experience program, and more student activities than you could ever fully experience in just four years.
Net Price: $18,135/yr
Student Body: 1,122
78. Howard Payne University
Howard Payne University is a Christian liberal arts institution that began as a school to prepare students for the ministry in 1889. Today, the university still hosts a Christian Studies school, but has expanded to include schools in Business, Education, Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Music and Fine Arts. This affordable private college in Texas offers the majority of its courses on campus in Brownwood, but if you’re interested in commuting, the El Paso and New Braunfels locations may be more convenient alternatives. The university’s Christian commitment is reflected in the on-campus activities, which features a prayer ministry, chapel services, and revival services leading up to Easter.
Net Price: $18,048/yr
Student Body: 1,170
77. Simpson University
Simpson University is a great option for students who want to study nursing, adult students returning to school, or those who want to go into the ministry. The three undergraduate schools consist of the School of Nursing, the School of Adult Studies, and the School of Traditional Undergraduate Studies, which features subjects like Education and Business. Simpson also hosts the A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary, which offers certification in Biblical Studies and Biblical Languages. Furthermore, this affordable small college in California allows students to take part in missionary activities in foreign countries through programs like WorldSERVE and Ties with Thailand.
Net Price: $17,895/yr
Student Body: 1,255
76. William Penn University
William Penn University is a Quaker school that emphasizes the values of simplicity, peace making, integrity, community, and equality in education. The university is made up of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Professional Studies, and the College for Working Adults. Along with traditional programs, Penn offers majors in Industrial Technology, Exercise Science, Digital Communications, and Criminology. The classes are small, meaning that students get a lot of hands-on experience and attention from professors. But it’s the more unique features that make William Penn one of the best small colleges in the region; one such option is the Leadership Core, which prepares students for leading roles in their upcoming careers.
Net Price: $17,857/yr
Student Body: 1,875
75. Fontbonne University
St. Louis, Missouri
Fontbonne University is a small Catholic college that leverages its location in St. Louis to help students take advantage of the opportunities the city has to offer. All students take part in experiential learning in the form of a practicum, internship, or student teaching. Fortbonne offers majors in unique areas, such as Bioinformatics, Deaf Education, Fashion Merchandising, Performing Arts, and Speech Language Pathology. The university also hosts study abroad programs in Europe and service trips across the globe. But don’t worry if you can’t afford international travel – Fontbonne provides scholarships to help defray the costs of studying abroad.
Net Price: $17,848/yr
Student Body: 1,997
74. Ottawa University
Ottawa University is a Baptist institution that was founded in 1865 as a boarding school for Ottawa Tribe children. The university has spread and now has campuses in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Brookfield, Wisconsin, along with two locations in Kansas, four locations in Arizona, and an online learning program. Students can study in the School of Business, School of Arts and Sciences, or the School of Education. You’ll get an affordable education no matter who you are, but military students and Ottawa tribe members can receive discounted or even free education at this top small private college.
Net Price: $17,837/yr
Student Body: 558
73. Xavier University of Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Xavier University is the only traditionally African-American, small Catholic college in the United States. Although the majority of the student body is African-American, the university is open to all ethnicities. The curriculum highlights personal responsibility and service as essential values in society, encouraging students to behave humanely and justly in their professions. The university consists mainly of the College of Arts and Sciences, but it also houses the award-winning College of Pharmacy. Xavier is also home to the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Confucius Institute.
Net Price: $17,829/yr
Student Body: 3,121
72. Sterling College
Sterling College is an evangelical Christian college that gives students ample freedom in planning their education. Sterling is unusual in that it offers both an Interdisciplinary Studies major and an Independent Interdisciplinary Studies major. Perfect for ambitious and creative students, these degrees will allow you to either follow a course of study that does not fit neatly into one field or to design your own major entirely. Alternatively, traditional options include Art and Design, Biblical Studies, Athletic Training, Communication, Sports Management, Theatre, and Writing and Editing. The top small private college also encourages leadership through the Freeman Lecture Series, which invites leaders in the community to campus to share their experiences with students.
Net Price: $17,821/yr
Student Body: 690
71. York College
York College goes out of its way to promote college affordability through academic, athletic, performing arts, and need-based scholarships. The small evangelical Christian college has a well-developed arts department, including a theater, a concert choir, and the Celebration singers, and it is currently building a new performing arts center (scheduled for completion in 2016). Students can choose from the usual range of majors, along with more unique programs in Art Education, Sports Management, Vocal Music Education, and Vocal Music Performance. York also has a strong athletic program, and is a founding member of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Net Price: $17,773/yr
Student Body: 470
70. Bethany Lutheran College
Bethany Lutheran College is a top small private college with a strong faculty and a selective list of majors. There are twenty bachelors programs to choose from, covering subjects such as Social Studies, Engineering, Media Arts, and Religion. The evangelical university also offers certificates and minors in Art History, Coaching, Military Science and Leadership, and other areas. Class sizes average just twenty students, and attentive professors will help you get the most of class time. And if Minnesota isn’t enough for you, sign up to study abroad at BLC’s sister school – the United International College in Zhuhai, China.
Net Price: $17,742/yr
Student Body: 579
69. Rocky Mountain College
Rocky Mountain College shares many characteristics with other small colleges, including a low student-teacher ratio and a high standard of financial support for students. Undergraduates at RMC have their choice of twenty-four majors and thirty-five minors, which cover topics such as Equestrian Studies, Philosophy & Religious Thought, and Environmental Management & Policy. RMC also has an Army ROTC branch on campus, which is a good option for students considering a career in the military. What’s more, this small public college is home to the Institute for Peace Studies, which hosts lectures, conferences, festivals, and concerts as it seeks to promote alternatives to violence.
Net Price: $17,642/yr
Student Body: 1,067
68. Southwestern Christian University
Southwestern Christian University provides a Christian liberal arts education that focuses on the values of scholarship, spirit, and service. Southwestern is best known for its programs in Music, Business Administration, Behavioral Sciences, and Pastoral and Youth ministry, although it recently initiated a curriculum enhancement campaign to promote its education and sports management programs. As a top affordable college, SCU build value on top of savings through small classes, spiritual functions, and NCCAA athletic teams.
Net Price: $17,597/yr
Student Body: 847
67. John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
John Brown University is an interdenominational Christian, affordable private college in northwestern Arkansas. The university emphasizes stewardship as one of its premier values, and it names environmental sustainability as a key aspect of such conscientious thinking. JBU offers a wide variety of undergraduate majors, from Art and Illustration, Digital Cinema, Worship Arts, and Journalism, and Civic Engagement for creative dreamers to Accounting, Biochemistry, Kinesiology, and Psychology for scientific thinkers. If you choose to live on campus, you’ll discover much more than academic classes; student government campaigns, cultural performances, competitive intramurals, and faith-based student ministries create a buffet of activities from which you can choose. Off campus, JBU offers international mission trips to countries such as Ireland and Uganda.
Net Price: $17,552/yr
Student Body: 2,596
66. Southwest Baptist University
Southern Baptist University is making college affordability more achievable with its award-winning financial aid program. Students can earn academic scholarships, performance scholarships, private scholarships, or even church-related scholarships if they plan to pursue jobs in ministry. Although religious degree programs are available, the university also has a large selection of majors in the areas of business, computer science, education, science and social science, mathematics, , art, music, and nursing. SBU prioritizes convenience as much as affordability, and so it has established four campuses – Bolivar, Mountain View, Salem, and Springfield – to help make travel easy for commuters.
Net Price: $17,545/yr
Student Body: 3,812
65. Pomona College
It’s no secret that one of the benefits of attending a college like Pomona is its unbeatable California weather and easy access to the beach. But there’s much more to Pomona than sunny skies; students at this top private college are serious and look to engage in research, international study, and community service as much as academic work. Students and faculty cooperate on research projects during the school year and in Summer Undergraduate Research Programs, which are financially supported by the school. Pomona offers fifty-five study abroad programs in thirty-four countries, and about half of all students travel internationally before they graduate. Initiatives like the Draper Center for Community Partnerships support volunteer work, while degree programs in such areas as Asian American Studies, Environmental Analysis, Geology, Linguistics and Cognitive Science, and Romance Languages help students keep their mental wheels greased.
Net Price: $17,419/yr
Student Body: 1,610
64. Southern Nazarene University
Southern Nazarene University is an affordable small college in Oklahoma that provides a supportive Christian education and atmosphere. SNU offers a significant range of majors to choose from in the Colleges of Humanities, Sciences, and Teaching and Learning. Some of the more unique programs include Music Business, Pre-Architecture, Aviation Business, Sport Information, and Cultural and Communication Studies. SNU is home to the Morningstar Institute, an international development and poverty alleviation training center that appeals to globally minded citizens. What’s more, Morningstar provides international internships and vocational and microfinance training, and has held projects in Mexico, Swaziland, Uganda, and Kenya.
Net Price: $17,380/yr
Student Body: 2,249
63. Presbyterian College
Presbyterian College is a top small college with fifteen Division 1 athletic teams, which makes it stand out among smaller schools. PC has earned Division 1 standing in football, cross-country, volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, golf, tennis, and lacrosse. Sports are an important part of life at PC; 30% of students play on the intercollegiate teams, with an additional 50% playing on intramural teams. But don’t be mistaken – PC isn’t full of jocks. Intelligent, thoughtful students choose Presbyterian for its small class sizes, accessible internships, and engaging community service opportunities. In fact, a large majority of students take place in both career training initiatives and volunteerism during their four years in Bethany.
Net Price: $17,186/yr
Student Body: 1,433
62. University of Great Falls
Great Falls, Montana
The University of Great Falls is a historically Catholic university with flexible undergraduate degrees in the core liberal arts disciplines. The school’s list of forty majors includes Biology, Business Administration, Education, and Paralegal Studies, among others. UGF also offers Army and Air Force Paralegal programs for students who began their studies while in the military. Like nearly all small colleges, classes are manageable and supportive, with engaging, supportive faculty at their helm. And although Montana isn’t the most populous state, its natural wonders offer plenty of appeal; the nearby Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks make UGF one of the best small colleges for students interested in a natural science or park services career path.
Net Price: $17,119/yr
Student Body: 1,138
61. Newman University
Newman University is a small Catholic college that emphasizes religious study while being respectful of students of all faiths. Newman has many campuses across Kansas, as well as in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Tulsa and Oklahoma City in Oklahoma. Newman is popular for its small classes and focus on academics, but more importantly for its Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies. The Gerber Institute, located in Wichita, has a theme of reconciling differences and building uniting conversations on top of typically contentious issues. Newman offers a variety of scholarships for freshman and transfer students, which help make the university one of the most affordable colleges in the US.
Net Price: $16,943/yr
Student Body: 3,736
60. Dakota Wesleyan University
Mitchell, South Dakota
As a 2015 “College of Distinction,” Dakota Wesleyan University offers quality, affordability, and accessibility in a way not many schools can. It has even instituted a “four year guarantee.” This means that the university offers faculty advisors and academic support services to make sure you stay on track and graduate within the expected time frame. Academic programs are organized into three different schools: Arts and Humanities; Healthcare, Fitness, and Sciences; and Leadership and Public Service, and include degree options in Digital Media and Design, Wildlife Management, and Entrepreneurial Leadership. In addition, programs within the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship and the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service help students develop important skills outside the classroom.
Net Price: $16,645/yr
Student Body: 879
59. University of the Ozarks
Located on 30 scenic acres at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, this top small private college brings students together in small-town Clarksville to learn in a peaceful and intimate setting. A forward-thinking school, the University of the Ozarks was the first college in Arkansas to admit women and the first co-educational institution West of the Mississippi. Even today, the university continues to push the bounds of education and put the very best resources in the hands of its students. Major and minor options range from Art and Business to Spanish and Theatre, with specialty topics in Radio/Television/Video, Environmental Studies, Outdoor Leadership, Psychology of Human Behavior, and more.
Net Price: $16,439/yr
Student Body: 585
58. Ouachita Baptist University
Open up “a world of possibilities” at Ouachita Baptist University, a four-year university with a compassionate four-year guarantee. Between the university’s loan affordability pledge and commitment to keeping students on track, OBU keeps student debt low and solidly earns a spot as one of the most affordable private colleges in Arkansas. U.S. News and Forbes both count Ouachita Baptist among America’s Best Colleges for its commitment to making an Academic, Spiritual, and Personal difference in students’ lives. Campus ministries and community service opportunities abound both on and off campus, so you can feel confident that you will evolve morally as well as intellectually during your time at OBU.
Net Price: $16,370/yr
Student Body: 1,543
57. Our Lady of the Lake University at San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
Faith and service mark the cornerstones of the philosophy at Our Lady of the Lake, a small private college affiliated with the Congregation of Divine Providence. 30 undergraduate and 14 master’s programs are available in everything from Human Resources Management to Chemical Biology, and teacher certification is available in Art, Mathematics, English, and Spanish, among others. OLLU is also known for its creative community, and more 50 student organizations will give you space to express your artistic side. Mariachi concerts, film festivals, craft shops, and art lectures are frequent sites around campus, while the vibrancy of downtown San Antonio offers plenty of additional cultural experiences.
Net Price: $16,129/yr
Student Body: 2,927
56. Cottey College
Cottey College for Women presents a clear advantage over other traditional liberal arts colleges. Branded specifically for young women, CC provides structured, interdisciplinary courses in leadership, social responsibility, and global awareness. By teaching female learners how to be strong thinkers and confident citizens of the world, this top small college produces graduates who claim more than just a simple credential. And as a resident on campus, you’ll enjoy apartment-style living that puts you within a community of like-minded women who will soon feel like your sisters. International experiences, NJCAA Division II sports, and dances (where yes, men are invited!) create a wholesome experience for dedicated individuals.
Net Price: $16,073/yr
Student Body: 277
55. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Rapid City, South Dakota
What does it mean to attend a school of “mines and technology?” No, you won’t end up hundreds of feel below ground searching for coal, but you will enjoy thriving environment of scientific and engineering research that will prepare you for some of the most sought-after careers in the country. Energy and the Environment, Underground Science and Engineering, Materials and Manufacturing, Science and Technology, and Education form the core of SDSMT’s pedagogic approach. Greek life, NCAA Division II athletics, community service, and Army ROTC groups ensure that graduates venture out into the world with a well-rounded resume and a wealth of useful experiences.
Net Price: $15,862/yr
Student Body: 2,640
54. Fresno Pacific University
Fresno Pacific University isn’t just one of the most affordable small colleges in California – it’s also the best choice for impatient students. Incredibly, FPU offers accelerated programs that will have you deep into the job market after just 18 months on campus. All you need is a few transfer credits and an interest in one of Fresno Pacific’s core programs, such as Business, Christian Ministry and Leadership, Nursing, Liberal Arts, or Social Welfare. The campus also houses a biblical seminary in the evangelical, ecumenical, Anabaptist tradition. Within the religious school, students can earn master’s degrees in everything from Divinity to Urban Mission.
Net Price: $15,742/yr
Student Body: 3,393
53. University of Saint Mary
Marked by individual attention and extreme college affordability, the University of Saint Mary invites you to accomplish something great. Whether you want to stand out or fit in, you’ll find your niche at this small Midwestern school. Academic programs are tailored to the needs of busy students, and many options feature accelerated or convenient scheduling that breaks the mold of traditional education. Enroll in the “triple advantage” accounting program and earn a BS, MBA, and CPA together; take RN-BSN nursing classes online; or opt for one of more than a dozen pre-professional programs (10 healthcare, four non-healthcare).
Net Price: $15,611/yr
Student Body: 1,325
52. University of the Southwest
Hobbs, New Mexico
What makes the University of the Southwest worth considering? A small private school with Christian roots, USW is also a top affordable college for those interested in online education or business programs. The university engages a servant leadership philosophy, which it enacts in the classroom, through online portals, and in the surrounding community to help every student meet his or her full potential. Although USW is known for its online degrees, students living on campus will enjoy the full experience – from spacious housing and competitive athletics to ministry groups and ENACTUS, an international nonprofit organization that emphasizes entrepreneurism and positive action.
Net Price: $15,589/yr
Student Body: 923
51. University of Mary
Bismarck, North Dakota
The University of Mary has dubbed itself “America’s Leadership University,” and for good reason. Academics emphasize professional preparation, moral development, and compassionate leadership, making U of M one of the best small colleges for students who seek more than the basics. And yet despite the school’s incredible resources (there are campuses in multiple states as well as Italy and Peru) its tuition rates are nonetheless exceptionally low. You’ll have your choice between numerous secular or theological majors as well as supplementary programs like the Emerging Leaders Academy, which helps promising students develop moral courage, critical thinking skills, and professional behaviors for the real world.
Net Price: $15,413/yr
Student Body: 2,910
50. Grace University
Grace University’s academics divide neatly into ten fundamental areas: Business and Technology, Christian Management, Education, Intercultural Studies, Music, Nursing, Psychology, Communication Studies, English, and Independent Studies. Within its comprehensive programs, GU interweaves a strong affinity for servant leadership, the church, and the glory of God. And while Grace doesn’t boast all the traditional trappings of a large university, the university will still give you plenty of great opportunities; for example, the Grace LIFE Podcast shares regular biblical messages with students, while campus events include Art Fairs, Global Conferences, and more.
Net Price: $15,142/yr
Student Body: 481
49. Philander Smith College
Little Rock, Arkansas
Despite a student body that falls beneath 600, Philander Smith College offers a surprisingly large array of resources to its students. The Tuition Assistance and Readiness Track program offers financial support to struggling applicants; the Carnegie Foundation awards PSC a prestigious “Community Engagement” classification; and the campus’ ideal location between Little Rock and the Ozark Mountains provides the perfect blend of city living and nature loving. Degrees are available in all the basics – Business, Education, English, and Political Science, among others – while external supplements like the Social Justice Peers Program and the International Studies Program ensure that you’ll enjoy 24/7 learning opportunities.
Net Price: $14,962/yr
Student Body: 556
48. Western State Colorado University
At college, it’s easy to blend into the background and become just another face in a large lecture hall. Western State Colorado University tries a different approach, leveraging small class sizes and engaged professors to help elevate students’ learning experience. WSCC offers a set of majors that rival the selection of a much larger school; the A to (nearly) Z list even covers unique areas like Anthropology, Entrepreneurship, Environment and Sustainability, Land and Resource Management, Recreation and Outdoor Management, and even Resort Management. In terms of campus involvement, there is practically no end to your options; an award-winning radio station, a mountain rescue team, a multicultural center, and regular “wilderness pursuits” provide a smorgasbord of activities.
Net Price: $14,419/yr
Student Body: 2,404
47. Lyon College
Lyon is not only one of the best small colleges in Arkansas, but it’s also one of the premier liberal arts schools in the region. Students come to Lyon because they want more than just a place to attend classes – they want a community where they will be challenged, engaged, and appreciated. Award-winning professors and state of the art facilities have helped Lyon climb to the top of multiple ranking lists by U.S. News, Forbes, Washington Monthly, Princeton Review, and others. Academic coursework covers all major areas of study and offers an “individualized” options
Net Price: $14,307/yr
Student Body: 592
46. Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Dakota State is anything but typical, especially when it comes to small public colleges. Located in Madison, DSU sits in the vicinity of a robust community that maintains all the appeal of a small town. Academic programs focus on computer science, information management, information systems, and other tech-related topics. As such, DSU earns a distinction as one of the most technologically advanced schools in the Midwest. Student life opportunities bring diverse groups together over study abroad experiences, athletic clubs, and fun hobbies. What’s more, the First Year Resident Experience guides young freshmen through their first few months as a way to solidify lasting friendships and social support.
Net Price: $13,790/yr
Student Body: 3,129
45. Northern State University
Aberdeen, South Dakota
At Northern State University, it’s all about the numbers. 97% of graduates report that they currently enjoy full-time employment, and U.S. News has recognized the school’s caliber for the past six years. And here’s another number – NSU has recently made more than $15 million in improvements to campus, renovating the Student Center and other popular facilities. But there are some aspects of your education that you simply can’t quantify. The education NSU students receive from expert faculty, the unparalleled undergraduate research opportunities they enjoy, and the study abroad trips they join all over the world offer a level of learning that goes beyond numbers.
Net Price: $13,627/yr
Student Body: 3,275
44. University of Minnesota Regional Campuses
You might be surprised to see the University of Minnesota on a list of the most affordable small colleges West of the Mississippi. After all, the main location in Minneapolis hosts more than 50,000 students! But the university’s regional campuses – specifically Crookston, Morris, and Rochester – shrink this big-time Midwest school to a smaller scale. Depending on which satellite location you choose, you could end up in a group of less than 2,000 classmates. And every campus has something unique to offer. Choose Rochester for an academic program focused on the health sciences, Morris if you’re interested in a “green” focused college, or Crookston if you need access to online coursework.
Net Price: $13,532/yr
Student Body: 2,030
43. Soka University of America
Aliso Viejo, California
Soka University of America is a particularly interesting option that small school students should consider. While it’s common to read about small Catholic colleges and those with Christian affiliations, Soka employs an alternative spiritual perspective. Buddhist principles guide academic life in this West Coast town, encouraging students to focus on human rights, peace, and sanctity of life in all their endeavors. SUA intentionally cultivates an environment that allows for constant learning opportunities, from global adventures to cultural experiences in town. But that’s not all – Soka sets a new standard for college affordability through its generous financial aid programs. The university even offers free tuition for students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year!
Net Price: $13,065/yr
Student Body: 412
42. Arizona State University Polytechnic
Arizona State University’s Polytechnic division is a small wing of this public college that dedicates all of its academic resources to research and innovation. In addition to programs in the arts, business, education, and journalism, you’ll have myriad options across STEM-related subjects, including engineering, health, and design. Degrees in Sustainability and “Public Service and Community Solutions” apply ASU Poly’s innovative spirit to some of the country’s toughest problems. Research at ASU encapsulates a range of subject areas; students find exciting positions at the Marketing Research Laboratory, Human Machine Integration Laboratory, and Electronic Market Trading Room, and numerous other institutes.
Net Price: $12,611/yr
Student Body: 3,697
41. Montana State University – Northern
Of all the most affordable colleges in the U.S., Montana State University – Northern stands out for its value. From the Bio-Energy Center, which is researching the conversion of bio oils to jet fuel, to the Montana Actors Theatre, MSU – Northern is simply full of unique activities. On the academic side, the BS in Nursing is the only online degree of its kind in the state, while the Civil Engineering Technology program is the only ABET-accredited option for miles around. And of course, no college experience would be complete without an athletic program! MSU – Northern houses three men’s sports teams (basketball, football, and wrestling) and two women’s teams (basketball and volleyball) as well as three co-ed teams (golf, rodeo, and cross country).
Net Price: $12,363/yr
Student Body: 1,334
40. College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, Missouri
For students who can demonstrate their desire to learn, to lead a Christ-centered life, and have demonstrated financial need, College of the Ozarks is a unique institution. In lieu of charging tuition, the college instead provides employment on campus. Federal or state grants for which the student qualifies, together with a College of the Ozarks scholarship for the exact amount not covered by the campus employment and grants, cover absolutely all tuition costs. Plus, the work that you are assigned will be in your chosen field of study, meaning your on-the-job experience before graduation will illustrate to potential employers your dedication and experience. This is just another reason why C of O is one of the top private colleges in the nation.
Net Price: $12,073/yr
Student Body: 1,513
39. Summit University
Baptist Bible College and Seminary, recently renamed as Summit University, places significant effort on ensuring that their graduates have every opportunity to reach out and assist others while enjoying equal footing in the job market. SU couples this mission with its original intent to equip students with a Christian worldview while preparing them to be life-long learners. Outside of the classroom you can take time away from your studies to support your team, the Defenders, in sports such as basketball and track. During the week, students and faculty meet side by side at the campus chapel for words of wisdom, guidance, and spiritual instruction. Meetings are recorded and are available as downloads for all to benefit. Summit’s tuition of less than $12,000 per year make this a top affordable college.
Net Price: $11,888/yr
Student Body: 367
38. Valley City State University
Valley City, North Dakota
Being a Valley City State Viking carries a special honor. For the past six years, this school has been recognized in either the #1 or #2 position on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Public Regional Colleges in the Midwest. The campus sits on 55 forested acres, bordered to the north by the Sheyenne River. Students are provided access to their own laptop if needed, making studying all the more accessible. If you finish your coursework and have some time for fun, you shouldn’t miss the “Whose Line is it, Anyway”-styled antics of the Did That Just Happen VCSU Improv group. Most performances are just for student entertainment, but many are to raise funds for various charity organizations in the area.
Net Price: $11,856/yr
Student Body: 1,366
37. Northwestern Polytechnic University
If it is your dream to have a career in Silicon Valley, NPU is one of the best small colleges that can get you there. The curriculum is centered on professionalism and the many careers to be had in this technological region. Because the landscape in Silicon Valley is ever-changing, the programs at NPU are designed to evolve as well. Some classes at this school may be taken online; however, the majority are held in traditional labs and classrooms to ensure that you truly master the subject matter. The school is broken into three schools; the School of Engineering, School of Business, and General Education, the latter of which provides a comfortable launch pad for undergraduates who will ultimately be moving on to study more in-depth programs and degrees.
Net Price: $11,820/yr
Student Body: 988
36. Montana Tech of the University of Montana
Montana Tech is a branch of the University of Montana that provides students with hands-on training in all things engineering. Students can take their studies outside of the classroom and enjoy various camps and events throughout the academic year, such as What a Blast! Mining Camp, which illustrates the benefits of a career in mining engineering. With more than 60 academic programs at M Tech, the combinations for a degree in the specific field you desire are nearly endless. And their also unique – degree programs such as Geophysical Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering are rare at many other schools.
Net Price: $11,622/yr
Student Body: 2,010
35. Mayville State University
Mayville, North Carolina
Mayville State is proud to offer 11 majors related to teaching, as well as 18 majors that are non-teaching. MSU is also one of the only schools in the nation to offer a certificate program in Plasmid Science. Many students enjoy taking part in the many clubs or other organizations available, and becoming involved with Comet Radio is just one way to highlight your collegiate experience. And if staying physically fit and active is important to you, take part in one of the many intramural sports available on campus, or simply visit the swimming pool and wellness center after class. And if that’s not social enough for you, the Swing Dance Club will have you burning calories in no time.
Net Price: $11,514/yr
Student Body: 1,065
34. William Baptist College
Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
If finding a strong, Christ-centered school is important to you, William Baptist College may be just the school you’ve been seeking. With a strong focus on Baptist doctrine, this top small college offers a caring atmosphere in which you will feel strongly supported in all areas, from your studies to your hobbies. More than 25 majors and pre-professional programs are available, such as Biblical Linguistics Studies and Journalism. Professors lead all classes with a religious viewpoint, leading students to embrace the Christian worldview and utilize critical thinking skills across the curriculum.
Net Price: $11,400/yr
Student Body: 574
33. Jarvis Christian College
Jarvis earns many distinctions on our list as a small private college, not the least of which is its dedication to minority students. JCC is the only historically black college affiliated with the Christian Church in the United States. In addition, if education is the field you see yourself in, Jarvis can help you get there with over ten different teaching certifications. More than anything, Jarvis wants to see students – especially those who are financially challenged – succeed in the career field of their choosing. JCC understands the unique challenges that face minority students and helps foster an environment in which they can succeed beyond the classroom.
Net Price: $11,364/yr
Student Body: 609
33. Chadron State College
Chadron State College is large compared to the other schools on this list – with more than 3,000 undergraduates, the campus feels comfortable but busy. You won’t necessarily know everyone on campus, but you will nonetheless enjoy small class sizes (the average class has just 17 students) and the opportunity to know your professors personally. Over 70 majors and minors are available at Chadron, including Agriculture, Geoscience, Health, and Public Relations. CSC also offers several majors that cater to the interests of rural Midwest populations, such as Rangeland Management, Rural Health Opportunities, and American Indian Studies. And in keeping with the traditional feel of state schools, Chadron boasts a lively athletic program; students can cheer on their classmates in nearly a dozen different NCAA sports or dive right into intramurals, club sports (which include rodeo and rugby!) or the cheer team.
Net Price: $11,344/yr
Student Body: 3,056
32. Adams State College
Adams State College wants to know who you are! What are your strengths and weaknesses? ASC is where you can become all that you were meant to be. In addition to clubs and organizations, leadership opportunities abound via the Student Life and Recreation Department. Whether you would like a degree in Anthropology or Computer Science and Information Technology, ASC has you covered. ASC also offers a fair number of online courses, so you can get the best of this attentive and enthusiastic learning environment without leaving your house.
Net Price: $11,293/yr
Student Body: 3,211
31. Our Lady of Holy Cross College
New Orleans, Louisiana
As far as top small private colleges go, Our Lady of Holy Cross is a unique experience. Associated with the Ministry of the Marianites of Holy Cross, OLHCC has its roots in a sincere passion for education. Faculty are genuinely caring, and small class sizes eliminate the need for you to stand out from the crowd – there simply is no crowd! And while some small Catholic colleges only offer faith-based degree programs, OLHCC leverages its position as a teaching college to provide top-notch instruction in allied health, business, the liberal arts, and the social sciences. And yes, a major in theology is available as well.
Net Price: $11,003/yr
Student Body: 1,112
30. Minot State University
Minot, North Dakota
Accolades for Minot State University prove unequivocally that it is one of the top small colleges around. U.S. News lauds its great online programs and numerous sources recognize its extreme affordability. North Dakota is also an incredible choice for school – the state is one of the best in the country for residents’ health and well-being, and it’s job market is one of the fastest growing in the region. In addition to traditional academic programs, MSU also makes additional opportunities available to students. The Center for the Applied Study of Cognition and Learning Sciences, the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, and the Rural Crime and Justice Center all put unique opportunities in the hands of eager learners.
Net Price: $10,928/yr
Student Body: 3,533
29. Peru State College
Peru State College is the perfect choice if you are considering a career in education. The NCATE-accredited School of Education offers teaching and field endorsements in more than 20 subject areas, including Vocal Music, Coaching, Social Science, and Elementary Education. But if you’re not interested in teaching, don’t worry – the School of Arts and Sciences can lead you to a job in History, Natural Science, Math, Music, English, or Art. PSU also provides substantial credit for previous college experience, supports a high school early entry program, and incorporates a prestigious Honors Program for this small public college’s brightest learners.
Net Price: $10,765/yr
Student Body: 2,422
28. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro, New Mexico
Tech heads and science lovers are drawn to New Mexico Tech, a premier science, teaching, and research university. Unlike many of the other top affordable colleges, NMT places research above traditional academics. Students in every academic department can get involved in the process, applying their inquisitive minds to oil and gas exploration, computer security and forensics, explosives, terrorism, atmosphere science, genetics, and much more. In fact, all engineering majors complete capstone projects that involve a Senior Design Clinic, where they often work off campus with sponsors on some of the most challenging questions in modern science.
Net Price: $10,735/yr
Student Body: 2,134
27. Brigham Young University at Hawaii
Brigham Young University is popular as a primarily Mormon institution, and many have heard of the large campus in Utah. But some are completely unaware that BYU also supports a location in Hawaii! BYU Hawaii brings together the best of all worlds – spiritual security, intellectual horsepower, college affordability, and beautiful weather all year round. Campus life takes full advantage of BYU’s beautiful location, and student activities include water polo, volleyball, and even planned water fights! As a school focused on service, Brigham Young supplies numerous volunteer opportunities, including several projects to assist the impoverished and marginalized.
Net Price: $10,660/yr
Student Body: 2,882
26. Sul Ross State University
Escape from the chaos of big city living at Sul Ross State University, one of the most affordable colleges in the U.S. The expansive 647-acre campus consists of stunning architecture and equally stunning views, thank to the school’s location amidst the Davis Mountains. Sul Ross State’s biggest claims to fame are its animal science program, which includes a 450-acre working ranch, and a popular rodeo team. In fact, the university founded the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and has spawned numerous world champions. Agricultural and Natural Science majors have plenty of resources other than the ranch, including a “Meat Lab” and the Borderlands Research Institute.
Net Price: $10,536/yr
Student Body: 2,842
25. Wayne State College
More than 100 student organizations, 126 full-time faculty, four academic schools, and nearly two-dozen represented countries characterize the community at Wayne State College. When you’re not busy playing Frisbee golf, practicing your archery skills, or flexing your philanthropic side with Habitat for Humanity, you can get down to business in one of dozens of academic programs. From Agri-business and Chemistry Health Science to Mortuary Science and Sport Management, Wayne State has it all. What’s more, WSC is clearly one of the best small colleges for teaching majors and offers nearly 40 separate programs and endorsements in the field.
Net Price: $10,288/yr
Student Body: 3,506
24. Harris Stowe State University
St. Louis, Missouri
“Hornet Nation” is the clear choice for minority students who seek a small community with a big impact. HSSU currently holds the 40th national rank for producing African American education program graduates as well as the 7th rank for graduates in mathematics/statistics. The school’s 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures that whether you major in Criminal Justice, Sustainability and Urban Ecology, or Healthcare Management. The majority of HSSU’s programs are full, four-year degrees, many of which feature subject-specific accreditations by such agencies as the ACBSP and NCATE. Harris Stowe State also offers a few certificate options, including a one-semester course in Urban Agriculture.
Net Price: $10,180/yr
Student Body: 1,298
23. Crowley Ridge College
There are several reasons you might choose to attend a top small private college. In particular, small schools provide more personal attention to students, but Crowley Ridge College goes one step further. Professing to be “the college that feels like home,” CRC cultivates a close-knit, religious community that supports serious scholarship. In addition to both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, Crowley Ridge supports multiple athletic teams (basketball, softball, and volleyball), as well as on-campus events such as the “Barnyard Bash.” And the fun continues all year long – Homecoming, Battle of the Youth Groups, and the “Spirit of America” provide events for every season and mood.
Net Price: $10,124/yr
Student Body: 200
22. New Mexico Highlands University
Las Vegas, New Mexico
New Mexico Highlands University may be located in Las Vegas, but the students aren’t busy gambling and partying all night. Rather, NMHU is located in Las Vegas, New Mexico, a small southwestern town with a relaxed feel. And being one of the most affordable small colleges in New Mexico isn’t the only attractive feature of NMHU – the university abides by the “Cowboy Code.” This constitutes a set of moral guidelines that will help all NMHU graduates be successful in life, including kindness, loyalty, honesty, hard work, and independence. This strong code of character supports genuine, engaged study across all subject areas, from Anthropology and Geographic Information Systems to Oil and Gas Management and Water Resources.
Net Price: $10,109/yr
Student Body: 3,690
21. Arizona State University at West Campus
It’s easy to get overwhelmed on a large public school campus, especially one like Arizona State – which hosts nearly 50,000 students! But if you have your heart set on this top public college, you’re in luck; ASU’s West Campus promises the same level of quality on a much smaller scale. Quiet courtyards and shady walkways provide a studious respite from hectic college life, and you’ll often find students engaged in deep discussion with one another while enjoying the beautiful weather. In addition to more than 50 academic degree options, ASU West also offers faculty-student research partnerships, dozens of student organizations, and even a Communications Assessment and Learning Lab (CALL) to help students develop their skills.
Net Price: $10,072/yr
Student Body: 3,661
20. Western New Mexico University
Silver City, New Mexico
Of all the schools on this list that claim to be one of the top affordable colleges in the country, few offer the kind of tuition guarantee that Western New Mexico does. For starters, students will enjoy the same, fixed tuition rate every year they attend as long as they earn a qualifying GPA. WNMU also offers a surprising number of merit-based scholarships and even guarantees in-state tuition for all summer students! This incredibly inexpensive school will open the door for you to top-notch degrees in Botany, Chemical Dependency, Forest Wildlife Law Enforcement, Industrial Maintenance, New Media, Zoology, and numerous other unique options.
Net Price: $9,963/yr
Student Body: 3,560
19. Heritage University
Of all the top small private colleges from which you can choose, Heritage University is one of the best. Heritage believes that everyone should have equal access to education, dependent on talent instead of economic or geographic background. Students come from far and wide to enjoy the “world class, multicultural education” that HU offers. Classes average just eleven students, ensuring that you’ll have frequent access to some of the best educators in the region. Although Heritage’s primary campus is in Toppenish, evening and weekend coursework is also available at regional sites in Moses Lake, Tri-Cities, and Wenatchee.
Net Price: $9,734/yr
Student Body: 1,128
18. University of Montana Western
If you’re looking for a small public college West of the Mississippi, don’t forget that Montana offers much more than mountains and blue skies. The University of Montana Western is a small school packing a serious punch; in fact, its innovative approach to education makes it a one-of-a-kind institution. Academic programs are organized within “Experience One,” a unique system in which students take just one course at a time. This system supports quality, focus, and intensive learning at the hands of highly attentive faculty. The National Survey of Student Engagement puts UMW above average in every area of academics, and two different U.S. News rankings recognize the school for its affordability and rigor.
Net Price: $9,692/yr
Student Body: 1,455
17. Lincoln University of Missouri
Lincoln University offers absolutely everything you would expect to see from a larger school, minus the crowds and anonymity. Students can choose from more than 50 undergraduate programs, a plethora of graduate degrees, 50 student organizations (including sororities and fraternities), and interesting research opportunities. You can get in shape through intramural sports teams, develop your political ideals through an interest group, or refocus on your spiritual life during faith-based services. Many LU students also join one of the school’s competitive sports teams, which include baseball, basketball, football, golf, softball, tennis, track and field, and even bowling.
Net Price: $9,474/yr
Student Body: 3,043
16. University of Alaska Southeast
This top small college might seem like a trek geographically, but once you arrive on campus you’ll see why so many people choose to call Alaska their home. UAS students take advantage of the great outdoors, making nature their classroom as they venture out on backpacking trips and turn the forest into their working laboratories. The main campus is in Juneau, where students can join the Native and Rural Student Center, take the annual Polar Bear Plunge, celebrate with friends at Winterfest, or even attend carnivals. Academics at UAS are both unique and varied, and it’s actually the only place in the world where you can study the Tlingit Language as an undergraduate.
Net Price: $9,157/yr
Student Body: 2,996
15. Louisiana State University at Alexandria
Louisiana State University at Alexandria offers far too much to cover in just 100 words – the university houses eight different academic departments, an Honors School, seven athletic teams, and nearly two-dozen student organizations, and that’s just the beginning. Student activities run from “Fresh Campus,” which advocates tobacco-free living, to the 4-H Club, which supports community and youth development. You also have the options to the on-campus ROTC program or taking part in a club sport, such as golf, rugby, rodeo, or Pomline (Louisiana State University at Alexandria’s official spirit squad).
Net Price: $8,888/yr
Student Body: 2,229
14. Henderson State University
Henderson State University’s motto is simple: “The School with Heart.” It enforces this attitude by providing a caring, personal environment for students who want to gain friends and memories as much as an education. While studying, you’ll get a great view of the Ouachita Mountains, which will inspire you to take part in some of the best outdoor recreation available on college campuses. And when you’re ready to get back to work, a long list of degree programs awaits you, including Mass Media Communication, Theater Arts, Entrepreneurship, Digital Art and Design, Aviation, Medical Technology, Leisure Services Management, and many others.
Net Price: $8,853/yr
Student Body: 3,583
13. University of Hawaii Regional Campuses
Although Hawaii is just a small group of islands, it crams 10 regional campuses within the University of Hawaii system. The majority of these locations are community college, but three – Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu – offer four-year degrees. Of these, Manoa and West Oahu both make our list of the most affordable colleges in the U.S. Between the two locations, U of H students practically have their choice of majors, such as Accounting, Dental Hygiene, Ethnic Studies, Global Environmental Science, Hawaiian Studies, and Travel Industry Management. UH also has an excellent research program, including the Hawaii Innovation Initiative, which boasts significant strengths in earth and ocean sciences, astronomy, energy research, and evolutionary biology.
Net Price: $8,754/yr
Student Body: 2,184
12. Southern University at New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
Not everyone can function successfully on a campus of 10,000 or more students, and Southern University at New Orleans understands that all too well. Founded in the 1950s to provide academic opportunities to African Americans, SUNO now stands as a model for compassionate, student-centered education. The school divides its academic programs into four undergraduate areas: arts and sciences, business and public administration, education and human development, and social work. Alongside traditional majors, SUNO also offers an Honors College and a robust research department. Students can explore the Center for African and African American Studies, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, or the Small Business Development and Management Institute to simultaneously strengthen their resume and skillsets.
Net Price: $8,528/yr
Student Body: 2,292
11. University of Arkansas Regional Campuses
Once more, we consider a choice in small college affordability that might surprise you; the University of Arkansas. Sure, the main campus at Fayetteville is an impressive hub of activity, but two of the school’s regional locations offer a more intimate setting. Visit Pine Bluff or Monticello and you’ll see what we mean. Both offer athletic teams, student organizations, and campus events galore, but with average enrollment around just 3,000 between these two locations, you might recognize more than a few friendly faces as you go about your day. Degree options include more topics than you could possibly experience in four years, such as aquaculture and fisheries, mathematics and computer science, health and physical education, and spatial information systems.
Net Price: $8,438/yr
Student Body: 3,254
10. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology
So many schools these days say they will place you in the career they’ve trained you for, and so many schools fall short on this promise. OSUIT’s commitment to your success translates to a near 100% job placement rate within your chosen career field after graduation. In addition, their degree programs are highly competitive compared to other schools when it comes to maintaining consistency with emerging trends in the marketplace. You can be confident that whether you major in Civil Engineering or Information Technology, you’ll set out into the workforce armed with the skills of a competent professional. If that is not enough, OSUIT is also one of the top affordable colleges in Oklahoma thanks to a net price that comes in under $9,000 per academic year.
Net Price: $8,304/yr
Student Body: 3,618
9. Bethesda Christian University
As one of the top small private colleges in the nation, Bethesda Christian University promises to develop critical thinkers who value both their chosen field and the Christian principles that provided a model for their ethical education. The school offers four different Bachelors of Arts degrees (Religion, Music, Early Childhood Education, and Business Administration). The Bachelors of Arts in Religion has four different concentrations: Biblical Studies, Christian Education, Missions, and Pastoral Ministry. But regardless of the subject area you choose, you’ll benefit from useful training in communication and interpersonal relationships, which will help you no matter what path you choose after graduation.
Net Price: $8,070/yr
Student Body: 353
8. University of the West
University of the West has the special distinction of being not just one of the top private colleges in America, but also one of the only schools to offer a Department of Buddhist Chaplaincy. This department offers a Masters of Divinity in Buddhist Studies degree; one of only four schools in the entire nation to do so! You can also pursue an online certificate program in Humanistic Buddhism and Leadership (one of more than a dozen certificate options) or a Bachelor’s in Accounting, International Business, Psychology, Computer Information Systems, Marketing, English, or General Studies.
Net Price: $8,017/yr
Student Body: 362
7. University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
USAO, aka “the college for the curious mind,” is aptly named, as its degree programs cover teaching certification, pre-professional courses, arts, sciences, and nearly everything in between. USAO even has an American Indian Studies major. As one of the most affordable colleges in the United States, your tuition dollar goes far when you consider the breadth of the education you are receiving. In fact, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance places the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at the top of their list of the most affordable colleges in the U.S. USAO also carries a core belief of preparing all graduates for life after school in the 21st century, and provides the necessary accreditations and technical training to support this mission.
Net Price: $7,910/yr
Student Body: 918
6. Donnelly College
Kansas City, Kansas
If obtaining an education with a strong sense of religious heritage is important to you, studying at this small Catholic college will more than make sense. Donnelly’s mission is to provide a top-notch education to all students that incorporates the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. But unlike some small religious schools, DC puts sincere effort into incorporating these teachings in a way that are relevant to your career and modern times. In addition, this school seeks to provide opportunities to underserved students who might not otherwise have the possibility to obtain a strong, Catholic education. In fact, 94% of Donnelly’s students receive some form of financial aid.
Net Price: $7,819/yr
Student Body: 474
5. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
SOSU offers the epitome of the collegiate experience: excellent academia, incredible options in the dining hall, football games to rival those your father remembers, affordable tuition, and a small but strong student body. Students often love hanging out in Durant, a bustling, homey town of 15,000 residents, but you won’t feel isolated from urban life either – Dallas, Texas is a mere one hour and 20 minute drive south. And if relaxing in the great outdoors is more your style, you’re in luck: the beautiful Lake Texoma is only 15 miles away.
Net Price: $7,811/yr
Student Body: 3,826
4. Southern Arkansas University
Have you ever heard of a Mulerider? Now you have! SAU is the only school in the world to have the Mulerider as its mascot. The SAU Muleriders are a part of the NCAA Division II and provide ample entertainment for those who love the excitement of collegiate sports. And SAU shines outside of the athletic arena as well. The school’s concrete curriculum covers practically every subject and level of study you could need, from associate’s to graduate programs, on-campus to online, and Accounting to Theatre degrees. And thankfully, you get all this and more for a great low cost. In other words, if you’re looking for college affordability, look no further than SAU.
Net Price: $7,604/yr
Student Body: 3,404
3. Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Of the nation’s small public colleges, Northwestern Oklahoma State University has value across the board. Academics at Northwestern are split into two, 16-week semesters for Fall and Spring, with an optional, 8-week Summer semester. More than 40 areas of study are available to choose from for your degree, such as Mass Communication or Health & Sports Science Education. Plus, unlike some small colleges who have to settle for second-best when it comes to instructors, more than half of all faculty members at NOSU have obtained doctoral degrees in their field. An added bonus, bookworms will enjoy the massive campus library, which holds more than 130,000 books!
Net Price: $6,989/yr
Student Body: 2,307
2. Colorado Heights University
Have you wanted to study abroad but fear the uncertainty of traveling out of the country? If diversity and new cultural experiences are what you seek, Colorado Heights University can provide an ideal environment for you. The student body at CHU is comprised of American and international students from all over the world – close to 60 different countries to be exact. As you walk through campus, you could potentially hear up to 40 different languages! These international students speak more than 40 different languages. International students can take ESOL courses on campus, while native English speakers can explore a degree in International Business.
Net Price: $6,955/yr
Student Body: 375
1. Langston University
Are you looking to find your inner lion? Langston has been assisting students just like you in finding and cultivating their inner lion for over 100 years. Whether agricultural or behavioral science are more your forte, Langston University can help you fulfill your career goals. Students can choose from multiple campuses, each of which serve a unique purpose and attract a specific type of learner. Travel to Tulsa for a look a their state-of-the-art facilities, visit Oklahoma City for a more “adult-friendly” learning environment, or study at the incredibly unique American Institute for Goal Research on the main campus. But Langston isn’t just as top small college – it’s also the most affordable school West of the Mississippi, offering a net price that barely surpasses $6k a year!
Net Price: $6,193/yr
Student Body: 2,533