15 States With the Most Expensive College Tuition

College costs depicted
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Self.

Despite a slight drop in college attendance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the large majority of high school graduates go directly to college upon completing high school.

According to data from the National Centers for Education Statistics (NCES), enrollment in four-year colleges has more than doubled over the last 50 years, going from a little over 5 million students in 1970 to nearly 11 million in 2019.

For many, a college degree offers the most straightforward path toward securing a job and increasing pay. Research from Georgetown University suggests that 35% of job openings in 2020 required at least a bachelor’s degree and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a greater than 67% pay difference, on average, between high-school graduates and college degree holders.

While higher levels of education are necessary for many jobs, the cost to get this education has increased dramatically in the last several decades. In 1979, the average annual total cost of attendance — including tuition, fees, room, and board — for full-time undergraduates was $9,307 (in constant 2019-2020 dollars).

By 2019, this cost had nearly tripled, to more than $25,000. The result is that currently, the average amount of debt a college graduate owes at graduation is $31,100, up from less than $10,000 in 1970.

To determine the states with the most expensive college tuition, researchers at Self Financial analyzed data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. The researchers ranked states according to the average net price for students awarded aid, defined as the total published price of attendance for full-time, in-state undergraduates less the average amount of grant and scholarship aid received. Only public, four-year, degree-granting institutions were included in the analysis. Read more on our methodology at the end.

Here are the states with the most expensive college tuition.

15. Kansas

stormy weather in Kansas City, Missouri
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $16,832

Average published total price: $24,126

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,200

Average published room & board: $13,926

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 65,036

14. Oregon

Eugene, Oregon
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $17,006

Average published total price: $27,451

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,383

Average published room & board: $15,068

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 69,780

13. South Dakota

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $17,956

Average published total price: $22,929

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $10,579

Average published room & board: $12,350

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 22,572

12. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $18,189

Average published total price: $27,113

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $11,613

Average published room & board: $15,500

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 124,859

11. Colorado

Denver Colorado
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $18,247

Average published total price: $28,394

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,600

Average published room & board: $15,793

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 105,475

10. New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $18,285

Average published total price: $33,392

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $16,064

Average published room & board: $17,328

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 138,374

9. Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $18,830

Average published total price: $29,317

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $14,409

Average published room & board: $14,908

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 24,112

8. Virginia

West Virginia
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,043

Average published total price: $29,487

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $15,104

Average published room & board: $14,383

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 168,178

7. Ohio

Columbus Ohio
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,110

Average published total price: $27,827

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $12,530

Average published room & board: $15,297

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 204,670

6. Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,467

Average published total price: $30,290

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $14,823

Average published room & board: $15,466

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 90,404

5. Vermont

Burlington, Vermont
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,510

Average published total price: $33,047

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $18,450

Average published room & board: $14,596

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 14,870

4. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,524

Average published total price: $30,847

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $15,079

Average published room & board: $15,768

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 44,907

3. South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $19,608

Average published total price: $28,825

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $14,600

Average published room & board: $14,226

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 93,560

2. Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $20,477

Average published total price: $30,299

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $15,183

Average published room & board: $15,116

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 131,633

1. New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
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Average net price for students awarded aid: $22,976

Average published total price: $32,672

Average published tuition, fees, books & supplies: $18,299

Average published room & board: $14,373

Total public undergraduate enrollment: 21,470

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
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To determine the states with the most expensive college tuition, researchers at Self Financial analyzed data for the 2019-2020 school year from the National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES-IPEDS).

The researchers ranked states according to the average net price for students awarded aid, defined as the total published price of attendance for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates paying the in-state tuition rate less the average amount of federal, state or local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid. Researchers also calculated the average published total price, the average published price of tuition, fees, books, and supplies, the average published price of room and board, and total public undergraduate enrollment.

For each state, weighted average pricing statistics were calculated using each institution’s estimated full-time equivalent enrollment. These figures represent the cost for one year of college. Only public, four-year, degree-granting institutions were included in the analysis; online-only institutions were excluded.

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