Public College Money Pit? 12 Most Expensive Schools


Regarding higher education, the costs associated with college can add up quickly.

While some students opt for in-state public schools as a relatively affordable option, others are shocked that these universities cost as much or more than private institutions.

If you’re looking for the most expensive public colleges in the U.S., you’ve come to the right place!

Here, we’ll break down what makes 12 top-ranked universities so costly and why they could be worth every penny if you’re interested in pursuing a degree at one of them.

#1. William & Mary

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Considering how much you can spend on tuition and how much you’ll ultimately make after you graduate is integral to your college career. It’s a lesson that you can learn with one of the most expensive public colleges: William & Mary.

Costing a whopping $23,812 per year, William & Mary costs over $15,000 more than the average national tuition cost. While they have a very high graduation rate, it’s important to note that the average take-home salary for those who graduate is $64,723 after ten years of enrollment.

#2. University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Campus)

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The University of Pittsburgh is slightly more affordable, coming in at around $20,362 yearly, which is still almost $12,000 above the national average tuition.

That said, there still does appear to be a correlation between the higher tuition and the graduation rate, as the University of Pittsburgh also has the second-highest graduation rate at 82%.

Those who graduate from here can expect to make $57,961 after ten years of enrollment.

#3. Virginia Military Institute

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The Virginia Military Institute costs an average of $19,670 in tuition per year to attend, which is $11,264 over the national average.

Much like many of the top-ranking schools, their most popular programs are very technical, featuring majors like General Psychology, Civil Engineering, and Economics.

They have an average acceptance rate of 64% and an average graduation rate of 80%.

#4. Colorado School of Mines

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The Colorado School of Mines doesn’t fall too low below budget compared to the top three, costing an average of $19,538 annually.

That said, you might expect much more from this college if you want to make more once you graduate.

The Colorado School of Mines is in the top 25% of ranked public schools regarding return on investment for education, with alums earning $90,060 around ten years after enrolling.

They have a strong emphasis on engineering, with Computer Science being the only outlier in their top six degree programs.

#5. University of Virginia (Main Campus)

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The University of Virginia costs $19,244 per year to attend, and they have good popular degree programs to choose from, like Computer and Information Science, Registered Nursing, and General Psychology.

Better yet, they have a high graduation rate.

Approximately 94% of students graduate, 32% above the national average.

#6. University of Vermont

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From here, data is relatively scarce regarding graduation rates, ROI, and some of the top degree programs that might appeal to you.

However, what we do have for the remainder of this list is information provided by the university that details the exact amount that you can expect to pay to attend these universities, as well as some insightful information that might inform your decision to go there.

According to available data, the University of Vermont will cost around $19,002 annually.

They have over 100 bachelor’s degree programs, over 56 master’s degree programs, and approximately 94% of graduates from the Classes of 2019-21 found employment within six months of graduation.

#7. University of New Hampshire (Main Campus)

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While New Hampshire is a relatively affordable state to live in and cheap when it comes to college, that doesn’t necessarily apply to the University of New Hampshire.

The University of New Hampshire costs $18,962 per year.

They have an acceptance rate of 85%, 83 bachelor’s degrees to choose from, and an average graduation rate of average graduation rate of 76%.

#8. The Pennsylvania State University

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The Pennsylvania State University has an annual tuition cost of $18,898.

While limited data regarding some of the above statistics are scarce for this college, they do state that they offer over 275 undergraduate majors, came in 9th in the 2023 Q.S. World University Rankings out of all public universities, and has 24 campuses and among one of the best online degree programs.

#9. University of Connecticut

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The University of Connecticut costs $18,524 per year to attend.

Current statistics show that they have an acceptance rate of 56%, are number 26 in top public schools, and have a 72% 4-year graduation rate, which are good indicators that this could be a college worth attending if you live nearby or are looking to relocate for school and work.

#10. New Jersey Institute of Technology

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The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a promising institution for those focused on technology and engineering, and it costs $18,016 per year to attend.

2021 data shows that they have a 69.1% acceptance rate, an even bigger 73.7% graduation rate, and an 88% retention rate over time, which bodes well for those who plan their major out and want to stick with it.

#11. Pennsylvania College of Technology

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Are you looking for something a bit more affordable?

The Pennsylvania College of Technology might be a better fit!

They have a tuition rate of $17,610, with a 55.3% graduation rate in 2021, a strong emphasis on rigorous, technical education, and a 76% retention rate over time.

#12. Temple University

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Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, costs $17,378 annually to attend.

They’re among the top 75 public schools among national universities and the top 100 best value schools among U.S. universities, offer over 160 undergraduate majors, and ranked 63rd in the U.S. World University USA Ranking in 2021.

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