Top 25 Most Affordable Colleges for the Middle Class | 2023 Rankings

Most Affordable Colleges for Middle Class Badge.It’s no secret that college can be expensive. But that doesn’t mean “not affordable.” This year, College Raptor ranked our top 25 most affordable colleges for the middle class. We rank the most affordable colleges, based on the estimated net price at each institution for a “typical” middle-class family.

We defined our “typical” middle-class family for these rankings as:

  • a family of four with one student in college
  • a family income of $80k
  • family assets (excluding primary residence) of $50k.
  • In cases of Public colleges, we assess affordability based on College Raptor’s net price estimates for in-state students.

College Raptor is uniquely qualified to estimate college affordability as we are a leading provider of net price calculators to colleges across the U.S.

Topping this list this year are Harvard, California Institute of Technology, and Yale.

See the best middle-class affordability colleges right here!

Top 25 Most Affordable Colleges for the Middle Class

Harvard University has turned out some amazing alumni. In fact, the school has more alumni, researchers, and faculty that have won Nobel Prizes and Field Medals than any other school in the world. Alumni also include eight U.S. presidents, 188 living billionaires, and 110 Olympic medalists. The most common majors include econometrics and quantitative economics, social sciences, and computer science.
Location Cambridge, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 30,391
Also known as Caltech, the California Institute of Technology’s motto is, “the truth shall make you free.” Science and Engineering are top choices among students and there have been over 75 Nobel laureates that have been associated with Caltech (including 40 alumni and faculty members). Just over 2,200 students attend the school today.
Location Pasadena, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,240
Yale University got its start in 1701 under the name Collegiate School, getting its current name in 1718. Their motto, “lux et veritas,” means “light and truth” in Latin. The university is made up of fourteen schools including the undergraduate college, twelve professional schools, and the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students have a 6.5% chance of getting accepted to Yale.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,060
Stanford University has a 5.2% acceptance rate and an 86% first year retention rate. Their student-to-faculty ratio is only 4 to 1. The 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, was a graduate of Stanford. Other alumni have included Fulbright Scholars, members of Congress, astronauts, and billionaires. Known as the Stanford Cardinals, their colors are cardinal and white.
Location Stanford, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 15,953
A private Ivy League research university, Princeton University was founded in 1746 and originally known as the College of New Jersey. This makes it the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the country. The school receives around 32,800 applications annually and has an acceptance rate of only 5.6%, making it highly competitive.
Location Princeton, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,853
Elizabeth City State University is a member-school of the University of North Carolina System. The college offers 60% of students institutional grants, athletic scholarships, and resources to help them better afford tuition. Common majors on campus include Interdisciplinary Studies, Biology, and Criminal Justice/Safety Studies.
Location Elizabeth City, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,002
The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740, primarily by Benjamin Franklin, who was also their first president. Franklin Field, where the Quakers play in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League, is named after the founder. With a 95% first year retention rate, 86% of students will go on to graduate in four years. 96% will graduate in six.
Location Philadelphia, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 26,552
97% of students attending Kentucky State University will be offered institutional grants. The second oldest state supported school of higher learning in the state, it was originally founded as the State Normal School for Colored Persons. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would give a commencement speech at the school in 1957.
Location Frankfort, KY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,290
Top majors at Northwestern University are Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Journalism, Radio and Television, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and Neuroscience. A founding member of the Big Ten Conference, top sports for the Wildcats include football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Willie the Wildcat cheers them on and their colors are purple and white.
Location Evanston, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 22,603
Washington University in St. Louis was named after George Washington and founded in 1853. A private research university, the school receives just under 28,000 applications a year and accepts around 4,500 students. Commonly chosen majors are Computer Science, Biology, and Experimental Psychology. Top sports on campus include track, football, and soccer.
Location Saint Louis, MO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 15,449
Eastern New Mexico University is known for being an extremely selective school with only a 33% acceptance rate. There is no application fee to apply for this college. Almost 80% of students are from New Mexico and the school is relatively ethnically diverse. General Studies, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Audiology and Speech Pathology are the most sought-after majors.
Location Portales, NM
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 5,266
An extremely selective school, College of the Ozarks has a 21% acceptance rate though to apply, it's free. Students here enjoy a 15:1 student-to-faculty ration and an 80% first year retention rate. By far the most popular major is Business Administration and Management followed by Psychology and Nursing.
Location Hollister, MO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,489
Originally known as the Augusta Academy and established in 1749, it would later be named after George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the latter of which was the president of the school for five years. With blue and white colors, students and athletes go by the nickname “The Generals.”
Location Lexington, VA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,183
Wesleyan University’s top majors include Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Psychology, English, and Political Science and Government. The school was founded as a men’s college and became fully co-educational in 1970. The campus is located on the bends of the Connecticut River. Cardinal and black are the official school colors of Wesleyan’s sports teams.
Location Middletown, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,053
The University of California – Davis is the seventh campus within the University of California system. It was originally an agricultural branch when founded in 1905, when it was known as University Farm. Famous alumni have included the CEO of Chevron, John S. Watson, the mayor of Sacramento, Darrel Steinberg, and actor / comedian Hasan Minhaj.
Location Davis, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,839
Berea College, a Division III school, is selective college with a 33% acceptance rate. The most popular degree programs are Biology and Computer and Information Sciences. Students enjoy a cozy 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 87% first year retention rate. 66% of students will graduate within six years.
Location Berea, KY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,432
Boston University got its start in 1839 in Vermont as the Newbury Biblical Institute. It would move to Boston in 1867. Today, it is one of the largest employers in the city. Famous individuals who have been associated with the school include Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King Jr., President William Howard Taft, and Howard Stern. The university accepts only 20.1% of applicants.
Location Boston, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 32,718
Located on the northern border of Maine, University of Maine at Fort Kent is a non-selective school, meaning they currently have a 100% acceptance rate. It costs $0 to apply. Just under 75% of students who attend are from Maine. By far the most popular major is Nursing. Students will see a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Location Fort Kent, ME
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,624
Located in the large city of Memphis is LeMoyne-Owen College. A non-selective school, 97.9% of applicants are accepted. Over 75% of students who attend are from Tennessee while the other 25% come from surrounding states like Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. The most popular major is Business Administration followed by General Studies.
Location Memphis, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 654
The smallest in the trio of University of Alaska schools, Southeast is located in the state capital. Southeast is further divided into three campuses, Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan. A majority of students (over 91%) are from Alaska as the university offers deep discounts for state residents. 45% of students also receive institutional aid.
Location Juneau, AK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,070
Located just outside the northwest corner of Holly Springs National Forest sits Rust College. This small private school accepts only 38% of applicants although there is only a $10 application fee. Small class sizes (6:1 student-faculty-ratio) are ideal for the school's most popular major - Biology.
Location Holly Springs, MS
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 623
Vanderbilt University has over 13,500 students. Many students major in Economics and Social Sciences. Other common majors are Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Engineering Science. The university was named in honor of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a shipping and rail magnate, due to his gift of $1 million. Their sports teams are known as the Commodores.
Location Nashville, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 13,537
Popular majors at Brown University include Computer Science, Biology, Applied Mathematics, and Econometrics and Quantitative Economics. Founded in 1764, it was the first school in North America that accepted students regardless of their religion. Their women’s institution, Pembroke College, was merged into Brown in 1971. Alumni have gone on to create famous companies including ZipRecruiter, Cards Against Humanity, and CNN.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 9,948
The University of Wyoming is one of the rare schools that features a live animal mascot - a horse named Cowboy Joe. Another mascot, Pistol Pete, is played by a student in costume. Brown and gold are the official school colors. Also known as UW, the university is a land-grant, space-grant, and public flagship school.
Location Laramie, WY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 11,829
Bowdoin College is a very selective school with an acceptance rate of 9.2%. 91% of students will graduate within four years, and 95% within six. With an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the college also has an 86% first year retention rate. Bowdoin College offers 34 different majors, including joint Engineering programs with Columbia, Dartmouth, Caltech, and the University of Maine.
Location Brunswick, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,777

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

AFFORDABILITY: Net Price vs. Sticker Price

We estimate a student’s net price at any 4-year college in the U.S. This is very important because the net price a student or family pays can often be dramatically less than the sticker price shown on a college’s website.

We estimate the amount of federal grants, institutional grants, and merit scholarships that you may qualify for at each college. All of these amount to “free money.” So, when comparing the costs of different colleges, you should consider your net price, not the sticker price.

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