The Best Public University in Each State

While many think you have to go to a prestigious private university–even an Ivy League–to get an exceptional education, the truth is every state has at least one great public school. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a degree; in fact, there’s probably a school in your state that’ll save you a lot of money.

So, whether you’re looking to attend school in the South, Midwest, East Coast, or West Coast, there’s a solid public university out there for you.

According to U.S. News, these are the best public universities in each state. And if you’ve already graduated from college, see if your alma mater made the cut!



Auburn University
Tuition: $31,956 (out-of-state) and $11,796 (in-state)

Though Auburn isn’t quite as good at football as their in-state rivals, the University of Alabama, Auburn is the number one public school in the state. Now that’s something to brag about!


University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Tuition: $21,216 (out-of-state) and $7,080 (in-state)

Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, this university has less than 10,000 students. That means smaller class sizes and more individual attention for students.


University of Arizona
Tuition: $36,738 (out-of-state) and $12,402 (in-state)

Despite having the reputation of being a “party school,” the University of Arizona is also focused on giving students a good education. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s located in sunny Tuscon! 


University of Arkansas
Tuition: $25,872 (out-of-state) and $9,384 (in-state)

Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a beautiful place to live, and the University of Arkansas offers its students plenty of ways to have fun throughout the school year. The sports teams are a main source of entertainment for the student body. 


University of California Los Angeles 
Tuition: $42,980 (out-of-state) and $13,226 (in-state)

Located just five miles away from the ocean, UCLA is considered to be the best public school in the state. While it’s known for offering students a great education, it’s considered a top athletic school as well. 


Colorado School of Mines
Tuition: $39,800 (out-of-state) and $19,100 (in-state)

This is a great school for anyone who is interested in engineering, physics, and other sciences. It might be a “niche” institution, but there’s a reason it ranks on our list!


University of Connecticut
Tuition: $40,502 (out-of-state) and $17,834 (in-state)

While it used to be called Storrs Agriculture School, we now know this as the University of Connecticut. The school is about 30 minutes away from Hartford, Connecticut. 


University of Delaware
Tuition: $35,842 (out-of-state) and $14,412 (in-state)

The University of Delaware actually admits all Delaware residents whose previous schooling record shows they’re looking to succeed. No competition or worrying whether you’ll get in!



University of Florida
Tuition: $28,658 (out-of-state) and $6,380 (in-state)

While most public universities have a lot of students, the University of Florida takes things even further. The school has more than 50,000 students–that’s bigger than some cities.


Georgia Institute of Technology
Tuition: $33,794 (out-of-state) and $12,682 (in-state)

Georgia Tech is known for its academics (especially their College of Engineering), but don’t sleep on their football team! 


University of Hawaii, Manoa
Tuition: $34,218 (out-of-state) and $12,186 (in-state)

As to be expected when one goes to school in Hawaii, the students at UH take full advantage of sailing and surfing classes. Don’t worry–they find time to study, too.


University of Idaho
Tuition: $27,540 (out-of-state) and $8,304 (in-state)

Students who attend the University of Idaho have the opportunity to get involved in more than 200 clubs. If you’re looking for plenty of extracurriculars, check out this school.


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Tuition: $34,312 (out-of-state) and $16,862 (in-state)

Located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, the University of Illinois is just a handful of hours away from Chicago. You’ll get a great education here without the high cost of living in Chicago.


Purdue University, West Lafayette
Tuition: $28,794 (out-of-state) and $9,992 (in-state)

While Purdue University has four other campuses throughout Indiana, West Lafayette is the main campus. Purdue has a reputation for being a great school, and it’s very affordable for in-state residents.


University of Iowa
Tuition: $31,568 (out-of-state) and $9,605 (in-state)

The University of Iowa is known for its athletics while also offering more than 100 academic programs for students to choose from. You can’t go wrong with a diploma from this school.



University of Kansas
Tuition: $28,034 (out-of-state) and $11,166 (in-state)

Known for its basketball program, the University of Kansas is where the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, coached. There’s plenty more on offer besides sports, though, so check out this fantastic school in the Midwest.


University of Kentucky
Tuition: $31,294 (out-of-state) and $12,484 (in-state)

Between the athletics, academics, and social scene in Lexington, Kentucky, it’s safe to assume these students stay very busy.


Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Tuition: $28,639 (out-of-state) and $11,962 (in-state)

Located right near the Mississippi River, LSU students are all about having fun, enjoying football, and getting a solid education. 


University of Maine
Tuition: $32,528 (out-of-state) and $11,738 (in-state)

While it might seem a little isolated to some students, this New England institution has a storied history. Famous horror author Stephen King is a University of Maine alumnus!


University of Maryland, College Park
Tuition: $36,890 (out-of-state) and $10,778 (in-state)

Though the University of Maryland is in the suburbs, it is very close to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. If you’re looking to study political science, you could do worse than this school.


University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Tuition: $35,710 (out-of-state) and $16,389 (in-state)

The University of Massachusetts offers students the chance to create their own major if they want to study something specific. If you want flexibility, then this is the place for you.


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Tuition: $52,948 (out-of-state) and $19,948 (in-state)

University of Michigan students will get a great education while also having a great time. There are more than 1,500 student organizations, after all!


University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Tuition: $33,325 (out-of-state) and $15,027 (in-state)

Located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the University of Minnesota is known for its urban setting. A great education and a thriving city? Yes, please!


Ole Miss

University of Mississippi
Tuition: $25,090 (out-of-state) and $8,818 (in-state)

Known as Ole Miss, roughly 35 percent of students are involved in Greek life. This school is a great choice for students looking for a traditional college experience.


University of Missouri
Tuition: $29,005 (out-of-state) and $10,723 (in-state)

Mizzou, as it’s fondly known, is currently home to over 31,000 students. This research-focused university has been around since 1839!


Montana State University
Tuition: $25,708 (out-of-state) and $7,472 (in-state)

Plenty of research facilities call Montana State home, including the Center for Bison and Wildlife Health. If you’re interested in agriculture, then check out this school.


University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Tuition: $26,820 (out-of-state) and $9,690 (in-state)

Students at UNL have more than 150 majors to choose from–and also more than 400 organizations to join. Don’t worry, you won’t get bored here!


University of Nevada, Reno
Tuition: $24,020 (out-of-state) and $8,366 (in-state)

University of Nevada students are very close to Lake Tahoe as well as just a few hours from California’s Bay Area. There’s more to Nevada than just Vegas.

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire
Tuition: $36,278 (out-of-state) and $18,938 (in-state)

The University of New Hampshire is a little bit smaller and pricier than some other schools, but it might be a great fit for you. They’re New Hampshire’s flagship public research institution and boast a breathtaking historical campus.

New Jersey

Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Tuition: $31,785 (out-of-state) and $15,003 (in-state)

Rutgers University is actually split into five mini campuses. It’s one of the biggest and most respected public colleges in the area, consistently ranking high on everyone’s lists.

New Mexico

New Mexico

University of New Mexico
Tuition: $24,924 (out-of-state) and $8,863 (in-state)

Unlike most public universities, the student-to-faculty ratio at the University of New Mexico is 14:1. This allows students to get one-on-one help from their teachers more frequently. 

New York

Binghamton University, SUNY
Tuition: $27,884 (out-of-state) and $10,494 (in-state)

Binghamton is a top-rated school for accounting and nursing, but even if you’re not interested in those studies, it’s consistently ranked high in overall academics.

North Carolina

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Tuition: $36,200 (out-of-state) and $9,021 (in-state)

Located in beautiful Chapel Hill, UNC is considered to have one of the prettiest campuses in the country. Not only that, but it’s a well-respected school at the heart of the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

North Dakota

University of North Dakota
Tuition: $14,545 (out-of-state) and $10,276 (in-state)

The University of North Dakota is known for its rural medicine program. It’s the largest, oldest university in the entire state and offers over 250 degree programs.


Ohio State University, Columbus
Tuition: $33,501 (out-of-state) and $11,517 (in-state)

Students at Ohio State University can choose between 200 different majors, which allows each person to study exactly what they’re interested in.


University of Oklahoma
Tuition: $27,068 (out-of-state) and $11,687 (in-state)

Meteorologists, take note: The University of Oklahoma campus is actually also home to the National Weather Center! With 20,000 students and a proud history of study and research, it’s a great choice.


University of Oregon
Tuition: $37,728 (out-of-state) and $13,136 (in-state)

This university is made up of nine schools and colleges, offering everything from dance to journalism. Think you might want to be a Duck? You’ll be won over by the beautiful campuses.


University of Pittsburgh
Tuition: $33,706 (out-of-state) and $19,678 (in-state)

More than 33,000 students are enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh right now, pursuing a wide range of studies. With a 14:1 student to faculty ratio, you’ll get plenty of personal attention at this top-rated school.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island
Tuition: $32,578 (out-of-state) and $15,004 (in-state)

Fun fact about the University of Rhode Island: The oceanographer who discovered the sunken Titanic, Robert Ballard, is an alumnus! Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the union, but this school offers big opportunities to its students.

South Carolina

Clemson University
Tuition: $38,112 (out-of-state) and $15,120 (in-state)

Founded way back in 1889, Clemson is a “land-grant institution” that focuses on research to help South Carolina as a whole. If you have an interest in agriculture, engineering, business–or football–then consider enrolling at Clemson.

South Dakota

University of South Dakota
Tuition: $12,807 (out-of-state) and $9,332 (in-state)

While most public universities have well over 10,000 students enrolled, the University of South Dakota is actually on the smaller side. In fact, they only have 9,920 students. That means more attention from faculty and a less stressful setting for students who prefer to avoid big crowds.


University of Tennessee
Tuition: $31,454 (out-of-state) and $13,264 (in-state)

Like many other schools in the South, the University of Tennessee is known for its football program. In fact, Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning went to UT.


University of Texas
Tuition: $39,322 (out-of-state) and $11,106 (in-state)

The University of Texas is divided into 13 different schools and colleges… that’s when you know a school is big. Texans wouldn’t have it any other way!


University of Utah
Tuition: $30,132 (out-of-state) and $9,498 (in-state)

Located in the beautiful capital of Salt Lake City, the University of Utah is known for everything from academics to athletics.


University of Vermont
Tuition: $43,950 (out-of-state) and $19,062 (in-state)

Founded way back in 1791, the University of Vermont is located in between the Adirondack and Green Mountains. The idyllic setting and excellent educational opportunities make this school a hidden gem.


University of Virginia
Tuition: $52,957 (out-of-state) and $18,878 (in-state)

The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson, so it’s got quite a pedigree. The institution is ranked among the top 5 best public universities and best values in higher education.


University of Washington
Tuition: $39,461 (out-of-state) and $12,092 (in-state)

The University of Washington is one of the oldest public schools on the West Coast. With more than 54,000 students each year, it’s a small city of learning and innovation.

West Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia University
Tuition: $25,320 (out-of-state) and $8,976 (in-state)

Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, WVU is very close to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. From the stunning campus to the seriously affordable tuition, this university offers plenty of perks.


University of Wisconsin, Madison
Tuition: $38,629 (out-in-state) and $10,741 (in-state)

The University of Wisconsin is right on the southern shore of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, making it a picturesque place to go to school. It’s also highly ranked for academics and boasts some very impressive alumni.


University of Wyoming
Tuition: $19,531 (out-of-state) and $5,791 (in-state)

The University of Wyoming has a National Outdoor Leadership School, which offers a number of unique courses that focus on nature. If you love the great outdoors–and are looking for a bargain–then check out this university.

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