Where Are the Most Affordable Colleges?

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a new website designed to help parents and students deal with the rising cost of a college education.

The “College Affordability and Transparency Center” ( lists colleges with the highest and lowest tuition, and the highest and lowest net prices. Net prices takes into account the cost of room and board, and financial support students receive through grants and scholarships, so it is a fuller measure of college costs than tuition alone.

Universidad Teologica del Caribe in Puerto Rico tops the affordability list with a net price of only $82 per academic year.

The top 10 most affordable private not-for-profit four-year colleges based upon net price also include:

  • Talmudical Academy-New Jersey ($469)
  •  Colegio Pentecostal Mizpa ($1,776)
  •  Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Texas($1,876)
  •  John Dewey College-University Division ($1,956)
  •  Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota ($2,031)
  •  Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico-Ponce ($2,208)
  •  Southeastern Baptist College in Mississippi ($2,669)
  •  Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem of America in New York ($2,839)
  •  Our Lady of the Holy Cross College in Louisiana ($2,874).

At $39,672, Art Center College of Design in California has the highest net price of all private not-for-profit, four-year colleges. The average net price for all private not-for-profit four-year colleges is $19,009.

The four-year public institution with the lowest net price is Sitting Bull College at $938, which is on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

The top 10 public four-year colleges with the lowest net price also include:

  • Escuela deArtes Plasticas de Puerto Rico ($995)
  •  South Texas College ($1,317)
  •  University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla ($1,591)
  •  The University of Texas-Pan American ($1,646)
  •  Indian River State College in Florida ($2,138)
  •  University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon ($2,345)
  •  California State University-Dominguez Hills ($2,451)
  •  California State University-Los Angeles ($3,263)
  •  Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina ($3,335).

The public four-year college with the highest net price is The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio at $24,192. The average net price for all public four-year colleges is $10,747.

The “College Affordability and Transparency Center” also lists two-year and for-profit colleges. The website only lists the top five percent and bottom 10 percent in each category, however.

To find the net price for a specific college or university that does not appear on the list, visit the Department of Education's “College Navigator” website ( Students and parents can find a wealth of information on this website, such as the number of full-time or part-time faculty, students' race and gender composition, and the student loan default rate of its graduates. The website also allows you to view all the colleges and universities within a certain distance from your zip code.

The “College Affordability and Transparency Center” was required by Congress under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and went into effect July 1, 2011.

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