You don’t have to pay a fortune -– or rely on financial aid -- to attend a top-quality private college or university.
These ten private schools have the lowest sticker price among Kiplinger’s 100 best values in private universities and liberal-arts colleges -- as much as $20,000 below the $37,000 average for private institutions.
1. Brigham Young University
Total annual cost: $17,280
Cost after need-based-aid: $11,789
Average need-based-aid: $5,491
Average non-need-based aid: $3,436
Average debt at graduation: $13,354
This 136-year-old institution is open to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as well as non-members. In fact, BYU's total cost of $17,280, the lowest on Kiplinger's private-school list, applies to students who are not LDS church members; members pay about half the tuition. BYU attracts academically gifted students: 91% of incoming freshman scored 24 or higher on the ACT standardized test.
2. Wesleyan College
Total annual cost: $27,900
Cost after need-based-aid: $15,268
Average need-based-aid: $12,632
Average non-need-based aid: $18,887
Average debt at graduation: $20,896
Wesleyan earns plaudits as Kiplinger's lowest-cost liberal arts college. Founded in 1836, Wesleyan was the first college in the world to grant degrees to women. Today, Wesleyan has 31 major and 26 minor academic programs, as well as eight pre-professional programs, including engineering, medicine and law.
3. Christendom College
Total annual cost: $28,790
Cost after need-based-aid: $21,465
Average need-based-aid: $7,325
Average non-need-based aid: $7,700
Average debt at graduation: $26,614
In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the Shenandoah River, this Catholic liberal arts college, founded in 1977, attracts its 400-plus students from 45 states and seven countries. Undergraduates are required to take a core curriculum that covers literature, history, natural sciences and theology.
4. Drury University
Total annual cost: $29,490
Cost after need-based-aid: $22,605
Average need-based-aid: $6,885
Average non-need-based aid: $4,150
Average debt at graduation: $20,500
With a focus on global education through its numerous study-abroad programs, Drury provides the opportunity to explore diverse cultures and international issues firsthand. Its Global Perspectives 21 program includes such subjects as Asian ethics, Russian cultures (with travel to St. Petersburg, Russia) and Mediterranean cultures (via travel to Volos, Greece).
5. Franciscan University of Steubenville
Total annual cost: $29,520
Cost after need-based-aid: $20,994
Average need-based-aid: $8,526
Average non-need-based aid: $4,366
Average debt at graduation: $32,380
This private Catholic university, founded more than 60 years ago, attracts a high-achieving student body (65% of incoming freshman scored in the top tier of the ACT) and keeps them coming back. The freshman retention rate is a solid 88%. The university offers 42 undergraduate majors and 32 minors, plus seven graduate programs.
6. Indiana Wesleyan University
Total annual cost: $30,370
Cost after need-based-aid: $17,647
Average need-based-aid: $12,723
Average non-need-based aid: $7,388
Average debt at graduation: $28,657
Established in 1920 as Marion College, Indiana Wesleyan is one of the fastest-growing Christian colleges in the country. The school’s main Marion campus has 3,200 students, and more than 12,000 adult students attend classes at regional campuses in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
7. Hillsdale College
Total annual cost: $30,410
Cost after need-based-aid: $23,580
Average need-based-aid: $6,830
Average non-need-based aid: $9,873
Average debt at graduation: $18,850
Hillsdale’s campus stretches over 200 acres in southern Michigan. The liberal arts college prides itself on offering high-quality academics without accepting federal or state taxpayer subsidies. An impressive 90% of incoming freshmen scored in the top tier of the ACT, and a low student-faculty ratio (10-to-1) helps keep students engaged with professors.
8. Thomas Aquinas College
Total annual cost: $30,850
Cost after need-based-aid: $16,300
Average need-based-aid: $14,550
Average non-need-based aid: $0
Average debt at graduation: $16,311
Only 355 students are enrolled at this Catholic liberal arts college, and the 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio helps keep class sizes small. Founded in 1971 and located 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Thomas Aquinas provides grants and loans through its financial aid program, but it accepts no government or archdiocesan subsidies.
9. The College of Idaho
Total annual cost: $31,678
Cost after need-based-aid: $25,051
Average need-based-aid: $6,627
Average non-need-based aid: $11,833
Average debt at graduation: $23,404
Located near Boise, the College of Idaho stresses the importance of off-campus experiences, from internships and community service to study-abroad programs. Students are also encouraged to become leaders, through the college’s leadership program. Under this hands-on, freshman-to-senior program, students develop skills in communication, problem solving, decision-making and team development, enabling them to become mentors to younger classmates by the time they graduate.
10. Baker University
Total annual cost: $31,830
Cost after need-based-aid: $19,890
Average need-based-aid: $11,940
Average non-need-based aid: $10,445
Average debt at graduation: $23,500
This liberal arts university, less than 50 miles southeast of Topeka, offers more than 40 fields of study and more than 70 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, from honor societies to varsity athletics. Fewer than 1,000 undergraduates attend the school, whose alumni include four Rhodes Scholars and a Pulitzer Prize winner.
More From Kiplinger
TOOL: Compare Top 200 Schools
5 Mistakes Veterans Most Often Make When Filing for Disability Benefits
Our military takes care of us, and when they are injured, sick or unable to work, the VA can help take care of them. For a successful benefits claim, here are some mistakes to avoid.
By Brett Buchanan • Published
Don’t Poke the Bear! How to Respond to Angry Customers
Arguing, doubling down and refusing to negotiate could make matters worse, so it’s best to aim for a win-win solution. And if that doesn’t work…
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. • Published
10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims
Becoming a Homeowner Hurricane damage? Know what’s covered, what isn’t, and how to make the most of your policy if you need to file a claim.
By Kimberly Lankford • Published
The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in U.S. History
Economic Forecasts Wind, water, fire and drought have all wreaked havoc on the United States. What’s been the worst?
By David Muhlbaum • Last updated
Amazon Prime Day 2022: Some of the Best Deals from Kiplinger Editors
Amazon Prime Amazon Prime Day is here. We’ve identified some great values on products and services, a number of which we’ve used ourselves.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance • Last updated
10 Tax Deadlines for April 18 (Today is Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline Between requesting a tax extension, making IRA or HSA contributions, and meeting other tax deadlines, there's more to do today than just filing your federal income tax return.
By Rocky Mengle • Last updated
Alternatives to Amazon Prime for Free Shipping and More
Amazon Prime You don’t need to pay Amazon Prime’s juiced $139 annual fee to find a wide swath of products online at different retailers.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
40 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in 2022
business We flag a wide variety of cool side hustles to earn bonus bucks for expenses both expected and unexpected as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
12 Good Reasons to Cancel Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime Amazon Prime membership recently jumped to $139 a year. That’s one good reason to cancel your Amazon Prime membership. There are 11 others.
By Bob Niedt • Published
40 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2022
Smart Buying Amazon Prime membership will soon rise to $139 a year. Get your money's worth by following this guide to the best Prime perks to use for the rest of 2022.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated