Pennsylvania (PA) has an extensive education system that includes a variety of very affordable colleges and universities. While Pennsylvania State University (Penn St.) is the most prominent public institution, there are several smaller state schools that rank as the cheapest colleges in PA. Indiana University, Shippensburg University, and Slippery Rock University all cost approximately $6,240 per year. Millersville and Kutztown are similarly priced and are great values for students.
Though private institutions offer excellent academic opportunities, they are more expensive than their public counterparts. Berks Technical Institute ($9,180) and Rosedale Technical Institute ($12,080) are two of the more affordable schools in PA. Some private institutions will hand out scholarships to the best applicants. Thus, students who wish to attend one of the better private schools might have to pay only a fraction of the set tuition. Allegheny College and Bucknell University are two possibilities.
Community colleges have some of the best tuition rates. Instead of attending a four-year university, students can spend their first two years at a local college. The Community College of Beaver County ($5,700) and the Community College of Allegheny County ($5,252) are both excellent bargains. Many of the more populated counties have local colleges, and residents of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia will have plenty of options to choose from. Westmoreland County Community College costs only $4,800 per year and may in fact be the cheapest college in PA. A variety of technical degrees can be completed within four semesters. Credits gained at these smaller colleges will also count toward four-year degrees at the larger universities.
In the end, high school graduates should apply to multiple schools. While public universities in Pennsylvania will of course be cheaper, some people will qualify for merit-based scholarships from private institutions. Community colleges are also fine alternatives and should not be overlooked during the rigorous application process.