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Even at public colleges and universities, tuition for in-state students can be costly.
Though often seen as an inexpensive alternative to private colleges and out-of-state options, public colleges have more than tripled the cost of in-state tuition and fees over the last 20 years, according to U.S. News data tracking National Universities — schools that are often research-oriented and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
And as costs rise across the board, the price tags at certain public institutions stand out.
Among the 539 ranked public schools that reported their 2020-2021 tuition and fees to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average in-state price was $9,670. However, the 10 most expensive public schools for in-state students charged much more, with an average cost of $19,498.
William & Mary in Virginia tops this list with an in-state tuition and fees price tag of $23,362.
Many of the most expensive public schools on this list are National Universities. One exception is California State University–Maritime Academy, which is tied for No. 2 among Regional Colleges in the West and charged $18,643 for in-state tuition and fees. Regional Colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.
The other exception is the Virginia Military Institute, which charged $19,118 for in-state tuition and fees and is tied for No. 69 among National Liberal Arts Colleges — schools that emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.
The highest ranked National University on this list is the University of Virginia, which charged in-state students $18,878 in 2020-2021 and is tied for No. 26.
The most expensive public colleges for in-state students are located across the country, in regions including the West, Midwest and East Coast.
Below is a list of the 10 ranked public schools where in-state students paid the highest tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 academic year. These figures do not include room and board, books, transportation and other costs. They also do not factor in any scholarships or grants a student might receive. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|School (state)||In-state tuition and fees for 2020-2021||U.S. News rank and category|
|William & Mary (VA)||$23,362||39 (tie), National Universities|
|Temple University (PA)||$19,749||103 (tie), National Universities|
|University of Pittsburgh–Pittsburgh Campus||$19,678||58 (tie), National Universities|
|Virginia Military Institute||$19,118||69 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Colorado School of Mines||$19,100||88 (tie), National Universities|
|University of Vermont||$19,062||118 (tie), National Universities|
|University of New Hampshire||$18,938||143 (tie), National Universities|
|University of Virginia||$18,878||26 (tie), National Universities|
|California State University–Maritime Academy||$18,643||2 (tie), Regional Colleges (West)|
|Pennsylvania State University–University Park||$18,450||63 (tie), National Universities|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find in-state tuition and fees, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2020 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The tuition and fees data above is correct as of Dec. 22, 2020.
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Correction 01/05/21: A previous version of this article included the University of Cincinnati due to a database error.