The burden of student debt in the United States has become a real crisis – millions of Americans must now accumulate $1.75 trillion in student debt by 2022, an amount second only to mortgage debt in terms of individual debt. And the debt crisis is just one of the problems affecting prospective students; the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on college enrollment, with more than a million fewer students deciding to attend school since the pandemic began in 2020. The rising cost from college, combined with the economic and physical hardship brought about by the pandemic, has contributed to a growing belief that college is not worth the cost.
And yet, the value of a college degree in the workplace continues to grow as a college education becomes less financially accessible. In a phenomenon known as degree inflation, employers are increasingly seeking employees with four-year degrees, even for positions that never required that level of education. In a world where a college degree is a potential route to financial success, but the degree itself comes at such a high cost, what should a student do?
In some countries, such as Poland and Denmark, access to affordable public education (almost free) is available to all citizens and residents of other EU countries. In the United States, the cost of public school depends on in-state residency. Some public universities have remained relatively affordable options for in-state residents and out-of-state students. Others, however, have become more expensive on both fronts or have had to raise out-of-state tuition to keep in-state prices low. Here, Stacker has ranked the top 50 public universities in the nation in order from most expensive to least expensive.
To compile this list, Stacker scoured data from Niche, a site that reviews and ranks schools based on factors like acceptance rates, average student loan size, diversity, faculty quality, and more. In 2022, the weight of ACT/SAT scores has been reduced as colleges place less emphasis on test scores as part of the admissions process.
This list includes the top 50 public colleges in Niche in 2022 and has been ranked in terms of average cost per year after financial aid for students receiving grants or scholarships, as reported by college.
Read on to find out which completely free university will leave more money in the bank, and which expensive school still has some of the happiest students in the country, as well as which affordable university awarded an honorary degree in space.
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