The Most and Least Expensive Public Universities

Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2013

How big is your college savings piggy bank? Its size will likely help determine where you’re able to attend college.

If you want to go to the University of Pittsburgh or Penn State, you better have a giant piggy bank (or two) because you’ll need it. The two Pennsylvania schools are the most expensive four-year public universities in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s recently released annual rankings of the most (and least) expensive colleges.

According to Business Insider, 15 of the top 34 most expensive public universities for in-state students in 2012-13 were Penn State campuses. While the national average for in-state tuition was $7,407, the University of Pittsburgh charged $16,590, followed by Penn State at $16,444.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pitt spokesman Ken Service said Pennsylvania schools ranked high on the list because the state puts far less money into public higher education than other states, citing figures ranking Pennsylvania 47th out of 50 states for higher education support per capita.

Mr. Service said Pitt’s level of state support is the equivalent of that in 1995, unadjusted for inflation. With inflation, “Pitt now receives lower levels of support than at any time since it was made a public university in the mid-1960s,” he said.

Click here for a full list of the nation’s most expensive four-year public universities.

On the other side of the spectrum, Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas is the cheapest four-year public university with tuition of $80. Also among the least expensive public schools is Florida’s Palm Beach State College at $2,378, Reuters said.

According to Inside Higher Ed, some college and higher education leaders have complained that the lists are “reductive and unhelpful to students and families.”

The Education Department was required by Congress to compile the cost rankings during the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act as a way to embarrass colleges into keeping their tuition down. Still, many colleges appear on the list time and time again.

House Republicans are seeking to stop the cost rankings list by proposing legislation to eliminate it. Their proposal is one part of a three-bill package to rewrite the Higher Education Act, Inside Higher Ed said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement that the lists are helpful for students and families trying to make college decisions. “These lists support our efforts to make college more accessible and to help families make informed decisions on the single most important investment students can make in their own futures,” Duncan said.

How do schools in your state rank when it comes to cost? Share your comment below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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