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Affordable colleges: a new tool for cost comparison

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College students sit in a classroom in this photo illustration. The average net cost for a public 4-year or longer institution is far lower than the average cost of a private, for-profit or private, not-for-profit institution.

Photo illustration / Design Pics / Stock Foundry / Newscom

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2. Public institutions

Average: $10,747

Lowest: Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates N.D. – $938

Highest: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas – $24,192

For public institutions, the net cost, is based on in-state or in-district fees, so they could be higher for students who attend from outside the region.

The cheapest public 4-year institution, Sitting Bull College, is small – it enrolls just about 300 students each semester. The college offers both associate and bachelors degrees. Other institutions that top the list for the lowest costs are South Texas College in McAllen, with a net cost of $1,317, The University of Texas, Pan-American in Edinburg, which costs $1,646, and Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Fla., which costs $2,138.

The most expensive institution in the category, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, offers programs in medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, and biomedical science and informatics. It enrolls about 3,200 students, all of whom receive some form of financial aid, and has a student to faculty ratio of 2 to 1. The other most expensive public institutions with 4-year or longer programs are St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City, Md., which has a net cost of $21,468, Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., which costs $19,344, and Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, Ohio, which costs $19,305.

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