Soaring Tuition Costs in These 15 States Will Ruin Your Budget for Years

A graduating student's cap says "hire me," expressing concerns about paying off college tuition in coming years

A graduating student’s cap expresses concerns about paying off college tuition. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

College ain’t cheap. But depending on where you go to college, it can be significantly more expensive. From state to state, tuition costs range wildly. There are many variables at play, of course, and if you’re an in-state student, you can expect to pay a great deal less than a student who has decided to come from another state. If you decide on a private school, things can get even more expensive.

The fact is unless you’re laden with scholarships and have enough savings to get you through, you’re probably going to end up with student debt. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, the average graduate as of 2016 is leaving school saddled with more than $37,000 in debt. Good luck trying to budget with that monkey on your back with an entry-level job — assuming you can find one.

In some states, you can end up paying a fairly cheap rate, say less than $5,000 per year. In other states, those costs can range higher than $14,000 per year for an in-state student. Data from Abodo, an apartment-listing service, detail which states have the highest and lowest college costs. We’ve listed the top 15, using the average cost of one year at a public university for an in-state student. So if you’re hoping to go to school and come out with a relatively inexpensive degree, you might want to avoid schools in these states.

15. Ohio

Residents in the Buckeye State are paying some of the higher tuition rates in the country — at least at public universities. The data show the average cost for a year of in-state tuition at a public school in Ohio is $9,301. There are many schools in Ohio, but none is bigger than Ohio State University, which is also one of the largest public universities in the country.

14. Connecticut

Yale University Sterling Law Building

Yale University Sterling Law Building | iStock.com/bpperry

We’ll see a flurry of states from New England and the Northeast on this list, but Connecticut is unique in that its tuition costs are fairly pedestrian compared to the others in the region. A year’s worth of tuition at a public university in Connecticut costs, on average, $9,517. But that’s a relative bargain when you look at the averages for private schools (such as Yale), which are a mind-boggling $35,407.

13. Arizona

Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky the Sun Devil

Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky the Sun Devil | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The state of Arizona is also home to some large public universities. Arizona State, for example, is in the same echelon (in terms of size) as Ohio State, meaning it gets a lot of out-of-state students who come to earn their degrees there. In Arizona, the average cost of tuition for one year is $9,694 at a public school. At a private school, it’s $11,462 — roughly a third of that in Connecticut.

12. Virginia

Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown on the Virginia Tech campus

Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown on the Virginia Tech campus | iStock.com/Bryan Pollard

Virginia is one of those Eastern states that has many old, private institutions churning out thousands of graduates per year. It’s also home to several large-scale public universities, where one year of tuition costs an average of $9,866. On the private side, one year will run you an average of $22,280. Some of the state’s larger schools include the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, and George Mason University.

11. Minnesota

A Minnesotan holds up sign that reads: It's not cold. It's jut Minnesota.

A Minnesotan fan braves the cold. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If you love frigid winters and humid summers, spending some semesters in Minnesota might be a good choice. For in-state students, one year of tuition will cost, on average, $10,291. For out-of-state students, that figure swells to $16,915. But again, these numbers pale in comparison to tuition at private schools, where one year averages more than $27,000.

10. South Carolina

South Carolina fans and mascot

South Carolina fans get ready for a game. | Todd Bennett/Getty Images

When you think higher education, you might not think of South Carolina. But the state is home to several large schools, where tens of thousands earn their degrees. It’s also among the top 10 for the most expensive college costs in the country, with one year of in-state tuition at a public school racking up at $10,691. If you want to go to a private university, that number jumps to $21,769.

9. Rhode Island

Rhode Island fans and cheerleaders

Rhode Island fans cheer on their team. | Chris Chambers/Getty Images

We mentioned you’d get an onslaught of New England and Northeastern schools, so you’d better brace yourself because here they come. First among them, and ninth overall, is Rhode Island. One year of tuition at a public university in Rhode Island will run you $10,817, and for out-of-staters it’s $26,763. At a private university, one year will cost more than $35,000.

8. Massachusetts

Harvard University

Harvard University | Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

As Rhode Island’s northern neighbor and fellow New England state, Massachusetts also finds its way to a fairly lofty position on the list. Massachusetts is home to many prestigious and expensive schools, including Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Tufts, and several more. One year at a public school will cost an average of $10,632 for an in-stater, and at a private school, it’s a whopping $38,009.

7. Delaware

A Delaware cheerleader

A Delaware cheerleader probably isn’t cheering about her tuition costs. | Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Delaware might not be in New England, but it’s another small Eastern state with high education costs. A year at one of Delaware’s public institutions will run you an average of $10,929 if you’re from within the state, and it’s more than $27,000 for out-of-state students. Surprisingly, costs at private institutions are almost even with public ones — on average, costing a mere $13,444.

6. Michigan

Michigan Wolverines fans at a tailgate

Michigan Wolverines fans know how to tailgate — and pay high tuition. | Leon Halip/Getty Images

Go, Blue! Well, you might be feeling blue if you graduate with a huge amount of debt after going to school in Michigan. It’s a state that’s home to several large public universities, which have an average cost of attendance of more than $11,000 for an in-state student. For out-of-state students, you’re looking at more than $32,000. And at a private school, it’s $19,372.

5. Illinois

Northwestern football players celebrate

Northwestern football players celebrate. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There are plenty of schools to choose from in Illinois, ranging from large public universities to prestigious private schools (such as Northwestern). The commonality among them is they’re all fairly pricey. One year as an in-state student at a public school? $11,882. And it’s $27,623 for out-of-state students. At private schools, the average for one year is $27,504.

4. New Jersey

A student at Rutgers University attends his college graduation

A student at Rutgers University attends his college graduation. | Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

We’ll spend the rest of our list on the East Coast, mostly in the Northeast. Coming in at No. 4 overall, per Abodo’s data, is New Jersey, where schools are plentiful and expensive. One year at a public school in New Jersey, such as Rutgers, will run an in-state student $11,955. For an out-of-state student, it’s $25,637. If you fancy a private university, that number swells to more than $32,000 per year.

3. Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia | iStock.com/f11photo

Bordering New Jersey, Pennsylvania also suffers from some of the highest college tuition costs in the country. For one year at a public school in Pennsylvania, such as Penn State, you’re looking at an average cost of $12,184 — assuming you’re an in-state student. For out-of-state students, the price nearly doubles to $23,571. And at a private school, costs average more than $34,000 per year.

2. Vermont

A University of Vermont hockey player

A University of Vermont hockey player | Elsa/Getty Images

The thing about small, rural states is they don’t have huge tax bases. And as a result, schools can be expensive. That’s one of the reasons higher education in Vermont costs so much. Per Abodo’s data, one year’s tuition at a public Vermont university is $13,524 for an in-state student. And it’s nearly $34,000 for an out-of-state student. At private schools, it’s not much better at $36,449.

1. New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire | University of New Hampshire

Vermont’s neighbor and fellow small New England state, New Hampshire has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive state in the nation for college tuition. According to Abodo’s figures, one year at a public university for an in-state student averages out at $14,435, and it’s $25,357 for an out-of-state student. For students at private schools, plan on paying more than $31,000 per year.

See Abodo’s complete report here.

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