Wyoming the Most Affordable State for College, Report Says


A new report released by the Urban Institute in Washington, DC has examined the cost of higher education in all 50 states and the reasons behind the various stages of affordability.

The report, "Financing Public Higher Education: Variation Across States," found Wyoming to be the most affordable state to earn a bachelor's degree in. Authors Sandy Baum and Martha Johnson determined the state to have the lowest tuition for residents enrolled in a four-year program and the eighth lowest community college tuition in the nation.

According to the report, tuition at a four-year school costs students who live in Wyoming an average of $4,646 per academic year. Meanwhile, New Hampshire was found to have the highest tuition in the country, charging $14,712 per academic year.

According to Baum, "It's not surprising Wyoming has such low tuition because they have such high funding."

Wyoming has the second-highest level of funding per full-time student, offering more than $15,000 per student each year. Alaska came in first.

The authors also looked into how much funding was provided by each state per $1,000 in personal income. Baum noted the importance of doing so, saying that the average income varies greatly across state lines.

The report found the average income in Wyoming to fall near the middle of all the states at $80,477 per year. The state was found to provide $12 of student funding in higher education for every $1,000 in personal income.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire came in last in terms of in-state funding per $1,000 of income, despite it being sixth highest for average income in the nation.

Baum did note that average income and low state funding do not always come as a pair. Connecticut was found to be near the middle in terms of funding per $1,000 of personal income but offers the fifth highest amount of student funding at $12,560 per year. The state has the highest average income and was also found to charge higher than average tuition prices.

The report noted that affordability is typically determined by state policy, writes Kristine Galloway for ECampusNews.

Jim Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, said he was unsure how upcoming budget cuts may affect tuition at community colleges in the state, as the Legislature is faced with around $617 million less in revenues than what had been estimated due to low mineral revenues.

He went on to say that although tuition prices are typically decided upon in the fall, for the first time that has been deferred until a final word arrives from the Legislature pertaining to funding. The schools currently receive 20% of their funding from the state. The rest is made up of a mill levy and tuition and fees. Rose said he expects the need for an increase in tuition, but added that the policy to do so in a way that has the least effect on students.

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