Most Affordable Colleges in Pennsylvania 2023

Most Affordable Colleges in Pennsylvania 2023

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

Key Takeaways

  • The most affordable colleges in Pennsylvania are the public colleges and universities within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education and the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.
  • College-bound students must consider the total cost of education even in the most affordable colleges in the state of Pennsylvania. Setting realistic expectations regarding costs, from tuition and other fees to room and board, is vital in completing your higher education without overwhelming student debt.
  • Look into the financial aid options offered by any small liberal arts college you’re planning on attending. The typical financial aid package won’t cover the total cost of education, but can result in significant reductions in the cost of higher education.

Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

Prospective students hoping to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree have over 100 higher learning institutions to choose from. The largest public university is Pennsylvania State University, or Penn State, with a tuition of $18,000, and a student population of over 95,000 across its campuses. As a private institution, the University of Pennsylvania, or simply Penn, is known for its medical, nursing, social work, and business fields. Tuition is $56,000, and the school boasts a 95% graduation rate.

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Students can also attend one of the more than 60 religiously affiliated schools, such as Villanova University or Lafayette College, each with a tuition of about $53,000. Some of the most affordable colleges in the state include the Curtis Institute of Music and the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, with tuitions set at $3,000 and $9,000, respectively. Though the average tuition for college in Pennsylvania comes in above the national average, those who practice medicine in underserved areas may qualify for up to $100,000 in loan forgiveness through the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program.

As the nation’s second state, Pennsylvania’s history runs deep. It’s here where Betsy Ross made the first American flag and where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Keystone State is also home to some culinary delights, including whoopie pies, soft pretzels, and the famous Philly cheesesteak. Students looking to earn their degree in Pennsylvania will undoubtedly enjoy what the state has to offer.

Check out the state’s top programs and learn more about earning your degree in Pennsylvania.


What are Pennsylvania’s Colleges & Universities?

Pennsylvania’s Best Overall

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Pennsylvania and Its Affordable Colleges

Did you know that one of the country’s oldest universities is in Pennsylvania? A private Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, was founded in 1740. But if you’re looking for the state’s most affordable colleges, know first that the average tuition is $63,452 or higher than the $41,568 national average.

College-bound students who want to enjoy the benefits of higher education without crippling student debt can look into colleges and universities in the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. Both of these systems not only offer affordable tuition and other fees but also have a wide range of financial aid options.

Furthermore, the colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs that prepare students for successful careers and productive lives. Many also have job training programs that prepare students for competitive industries like health science, business administration, and criminal justice.

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education

Founded on July 1, 1983, the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the state agency responsible for overseeing state-owned universities.

As a group, these universities are the largest providers of higher education in Pennsylvania with more than 90,000 students in their degree programs alone. Students and alumni contribute to the socio-economic progress of their local communities, the commonwealth, and the country.

Every member university in the PASSHE is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusivity in higher education. Affordable cost of college education is among the universities’ primary means of enabling students to achieve personal and professional advancement.

The PASSHE is also committed to ideal student to faculty ratio in their member schools, which allows students a higher rate of success in their studies.

The 10 state-owned universities within PASSHE are:

Note that starting in the 2022-2023 academic year, consolidations were made between several universities. Pennsylvania Western University is composed of the former Clarion University, California University, and Edinboro University. Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania consists of the former Mansfield University, Bloomsburg University, and Lock Haven University.

Nearly 80% of students enrolled in PASSHE universities receive financial aid with the typical financial assistance package consisting of scholarships, loans, and work-study employment. The Board of Governors has also voted for a tuition freeze—the fourth in a row—for the 2022-2023 academic year.

While each university has its in-state and out-of-state tuition structure, housing and board packages, and other mandatory fees, the typical undergraduate tuition and other costs for students are:

  • In-state tuition: $7,716
  • In-state technology fee: $478
  • Out-of-state tuition: $9,660-$19,290
  • Mandatory fees: $2,214-$3,496

Students must also consider on-campus housing and other incidental expenses. Housing plans are between $3,488 and $11,884, while board plans are in the $1,640-$4,924 range.

Commonwealth System of Higher Education

The Commonwealth System of Higher Education designates state-related status on four universities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, namely:

  • Lincoln University, a public state-related historically black university in Oxford, Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania State University, a multi-campus public state-related land-grant research university
  • Temple University, a public state-related research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for its world-class professional education programs such as law, medicine, and engineering
  • University of Pittsburgh, a public state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The unique public-private hybrid university system allows Pennsylvania residents/students to benefit from tuition discounts, thanks to annual financial appropriations from the state. Note, however, that PASSHE universities still have more affordable tuition than universities in the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

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There are 27 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania with stated tuitions and fees under $20,000/year. The following list of the most affordable colleges and universities in Pennsylvania is composed entirely of schools offering bachelor’s degree programs, have stated tuition and fees near or under the national average of $16,000/year, and are fully accredited colleges.

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Most Affordable Colleges in Pennsylvania 2022

These schools are ranked by academic excellence, and all under $20,000/year.

  1. Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/21

  2. #4

    West Chester University

    West Chester , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/23

  3. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/22

  4. #6

    PennWest California

    California , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/20

  5. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1047/21

    What is University of Pittsburgh at Bradford known for?

    University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Online Degrees

    BS in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Nursing Informatics
    • Clinical Nurse Leader
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/19

    Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania’s Online Degrees

    BA in Behavioral Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Areas of Specialization: Human Resources (online or on-campus)
    • Marketing (online or on-campus)
    • Entrepreneurial Studies (on-campus only)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    8K

  8. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

  9. #11

    PennWest Edinboro

    Edinboro , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    PennWest Edinboro’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Technical Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Online Degrees

    BS in Human Development and Family Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Tracks: Family Specialist Track
    • Infant/Toddler Mental Health Track
    • Child Life Track
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BA in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communications Media
    Degree Concentrations
    • Media Marketing Track
    • Media Production Track
    • Media Studies Track
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BA in Criminology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Areas: Criminal Justice System
    • Critical Issues in Criminology
    • Diversity Issues in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
  11. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    6K

    Millersville University of Pennsylvania’s Online Degrees

    BA in Art History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Sociology
    • Applied Health Care Concentrations
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    <1K

  13. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    What is East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania known for?

    East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #16

    Lackawanna College

    Scranton , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

  15. #17

    PennWest Clarion

    Clarion , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    4K

  16. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    3K

  17. #19

    Keystone College

    La Plume , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/23

    Keystone College’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting Principles
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  18. Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Pittsburgh Technical College known for?

    Pittsburgh Technical College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Pittsburgh Technical College’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Management
    • Required Credits: 80
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 184
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Systems and Technology
    • Required Credits: 188
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  19. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    What is University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg known for?

    University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #22

    Peirce College

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Graduation

    11%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Peirce College known for?

    Peirce College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/19

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Pennsylvania’s Most Affordable Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive
  1. Grove City College
  2. University of Pittsburgh
  3. Rosemont College
  4. York College of Pennsylvania
  5. University of Valley Forge
  6. Harrisburg University of Science and Technology
  7. Mount Aloysius College
  8. Wilson College
  9. Bryn Athyn College
  10. Lancaster Bible College
  11. Waynesburg University
  12. Albright College
  13. Immaculata University
  14. Geneva College
  15. Cairn University
  16. La Roche University
  17. Holy Family University
  18. Carlow University
  19. Robert Morris University
  20. La Salle University
  21. Cabrini University
  22. Neumann University
  23. Thiel College
  24. Gannon University
  25. Elizabethtown College