North Carolina’s Most Affordable Colleges and Universities of 2021

Here are the most affordable colleges and universities in North Carolina. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you, at a price you can afford.

North Carolina’s Most Affordable Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

Among these schools are over 60 public colleges and universities, including the state’s largest school, North Carolina State University, which serves almost 30,000 students. Tuition costs average about $9,000, just below the national average, and students also have the option to enroll in over 1,000 online courses. Another notable public school is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is one of the country’s oldest universities.

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The 25,000 students who attend UNC will walk the same halls as Francis Collins, Thomas Wolfe, and former president James K. Polk. North Carolina’s private schools have also made a name for themselves, including the well-known Duke University located in Durham. Here, students can earn degrees in some of the top programs, like nursing, political science, and business. Additionally, students can attend one of the many small schools which serve less than 5,000 students, like Campbell University in Buies Creek, or a religiously affiliated school, like Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City.

From its coastal beaches to its lush forests, it’s no wonder the Wright Brothers dreamed of taking flight over North Carolina. This state is rich with history, scenic views, and famous people who once called it home, like John Coltrane and Nicholas Sparks. Students hoping to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree also have the option of choosing from over 100 schools in the Tar Heel State.

Whether you prefer ocean views or wooded forests, North Carolina has something for everyone. Discover more about the state’s higher learning options.


What are North Carolina’s Colleges & Universities?

North Carolina’s Best Overall


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We’ve identified 16 affordable colleges and universities in North Carolina with stated tuitions and fees below the national average of $16,000/year.

  1. It must be fully accredited.
  2. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees
  3. Its stated tuition and fees must be under $16,000/year.

How do we determine North Carolina's most affordable colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Most Affordable Colleges & Universities in North Carolina

  1. #1

    Elizabeth City State University

    Elizabeth City , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    962/18

    What is Elizabeth City State University known for?

    Elizabeth City State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    REQUEST INFO
  2. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    What is University of North Carolina at Pembroke known for?

    University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  3. Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    What is Western Carolina University known for?

    Western Carolina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/19

    What is Fayetteville State University known for?

    Fayetteville State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/17

    What is Winston-Salem State University known for?

    Winston-Salem State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    REQUEST INFO
  6. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/18

    What is North Carolina Central University known for?

    North Carolina Central University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/19

    What is North Carolina A&T State University known for?

    North Carolina A&T State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    What is University of North Carolina at Charlotte known for?

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/24

    What is University of North Carolina Wilmington known for?

    University of North Carolina Wilmington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    REQUEST INFO
  10. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    What is University of North Carolina at Asheville known for?

    University of North Carolina at Asheville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    East Carolina University

    Greenville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    What is East Carolina University known for?

    East Carolina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    What is University of North Carolina at Greensboro known for?

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    What is Appalachian State University known for?

    Appalachian State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/30

    What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    What is North Carolina State University known for?

    North Carolina State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Shaw University

    Raleigh , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Shaw University known for?

    Shaw University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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