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Most affordable liberal arts schools best-colleges

While cost may not be the deciding factor when choosing a liberal arts school, it remains an important consideration that can significantly affect your future finances. Here we rank the most affordable schools currently on the market with the help of our impartial methodology. Find the school that is right for you.  

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Degree premium: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state. This is called “Vs. state average” in school profiles below.

Ranking: The payback rate is divided by the degree premium (set as a percentage), the lower the number the higher the rank. (i.e. payback=1, degree premium 20% higher than state school median: 1/120% = .883.

Net cost
Earnings
Payback
Degree premium
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#25 in Liberal Arts

Berea College

Berea, Kentucky

Admission rate: 33%

Grad rate: 64%

Net cost: $5,184

Payback: 1.7 Years

Earnings: $37,154

Vs. state average: - $5,986

Economic score: 1.94

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#29 in Liberal Arts

New College of Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Admission rate: 70%

Grad rate: 60%

Net cost: $8,516

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $43,994

Vs. state average: - $727

Economic score: 2.08

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#81 in Liberal Arts

The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Wise, Virginia

Admission rate: 83%

Grad rate: 53%

Net cost: $10,061

Payback: 2.9 Years

Earnings: $41,055

Vs. state average: - $1,929

Economic score: 3.06

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#46 in Liberal Arts

Charter Oak State College

New Britain, Connecticut

Admission rate: N/A

Grad rate: 58%

Net cost: $10,724

Payback: 1.9 Years

Earnings: $54,604

Vs. state average: - $14,956

Economic score: 2.44

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#36 in Liberal Arts

Shepherd University

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Admission rate: 98%

Grad rate: 50%

Net cost: $11,021

Payback: 2.1 Years

Earnings: $45,723

Vs. state average: - $1,351

Economic score: 2.19

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#120 in Liberal Arts

Wesleyan College

Macon, Georgia

Admission rate: 60%

Grad rate: 58%

Net cost: $11,358

Payback: 3.8 Years

Earnings: $38,065

Vs. state average: - $3,828

Economic score: 4.17

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#68 in Liberal Arts

University of Minnesota-Morris

Morris, Minnesota

Admission rate: 65%

Grad rate: 65%

Net cost: $11,412

Payback: 2.4 Years

Earnings: $47,373

Vs. state average: - $7,903

Economic score: 2.82

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#27 in Liberal Arts

Beloit College

Beloit, Wisconsin

Admission rate: 59%

Grad rate: 80%

Net cost: $11,433

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $50,499

Vs. state average: - $1,576

Economic score: 2.05

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#59 in Liberal Arts

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

Admission rate: 80%

Grad rate: 62%

Net cost: $12,061

Payback: 2.6 Years

Earnings: $42,027

Vs. state average: - $44

Economic score: 2.63

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#23 in Liberal Arts

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

Manchester, New Hampshire

Admission rate: 86%

Grad rate: 62%

Net cost: $13,649

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $61,997

Vs. state average: + $2,460

Economic score: 1.87

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#87 in Liberal Arts

Soka University of America

Aliso Viejo, California

Admission rate: 52%

Grad rate: 91%

Net cost: $13,914

Payback: 3.0 Years

Earnings: $48,193

Vs. state average: - $2,486

Economic score: 3.19

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#103 in Liberal Arts

Lyon College

Batesville, Arkansas

Admission rate: 51%

Grad rate: 51%

Net cost: $15,447

Payback: 3.8 Years

Earnings: $43,343

Vs. state average: + $660

Economic score: 3.72

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#95 in Liberal Arts

Ave Maria University

Ave Maria, Florida

Admission rate: 92%

Grad rate: 57%

Net cost: $15,527

Payback: 3.4 Years

Earnings: $45,789

Vs. state average: + $1,068

Economic score: 3.36

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#170 in Liberal Arts

Blackburn College

Carlinville, Illinois

Admission rate: 56%

Grad rate: 47%

Net cost: $15,993

Payback: 5.9 Years

Earnings: $38,571

Vs. state average: - $6,266

Economic score: 6.90

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#176 in Liberal Arts

Fort Lewis College

Durango, Colorado

Admission rate: 92%

Grad rate: 47%

Net cost: $16,274

Payback: 6.5 Years

Earnings: $38,083

Vs. state average: - $7,838

Economic score: 7.83

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#172 in Liberal Arts

Bethany Lutheran College

Mankato, Minnesota

Admission rate: 65%

Grad rate: 53%

Net cost: $16,368

Payback: 5.1 Years

Earnings: $40,621

Vs. state average: - $14,655

Economic score: 6.99

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#105 in Liberal Arts

Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois

Admission rate: 76%

Grad rate: 69%

Net cost: $16,562

Payback: 3.9 Years

Earnings: $46,510

Vs. state average: + $1,673

Economic score: 3.75

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#37 in Liberal Arts

Saint Vincent College

Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: 73%

Grad rate: 78%

Net cost: $16,634

Payback: 2.3 Years

Earnings: $55,543

Vs. state average: + $1,965

Economic score: 2.20

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#18 in Liberal Arts

Albion College

Albion, Michigan

Admission rate: 75%

Grad rate: 65%

Net cost: $16,653

Payback: 2.2 Years

Earnings: $54,792

Vs. state average: + $10,746

Economic score: 1.73

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#182 in Liberal Arts

Judson College

Marion, Alabama

Admission rate: 57%

Grad rate: 45%

Net cost: $16,827

Payback: 11.3 Years

Earnings: $29,569

Vs. state average: - $13,794

Economic score: 16.63

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