To get our rankings, we looked at all public and private colleges in each state that offer bachelor’s degrees and higher.1 We compared each state’s average in-state tuition with its average out-of-state tuition.2 We found that, in general, the states with high in-state costs also have high out-of-state costs—so we based the final ranking solely on the average in-state tuition.
For more context, we also looked at net cost by state, which includes in-state tuition for first-time students plus living expenses, books, and supplies (and minus scholarships and aid).3 In some states, students receive enough financial aid to actually nudge that net cost lower than the annual cost of tuition. Basically, the net cost is the total cost to attend college for a year after all is said and done.
(Well, almost: it doesn’t include the late-night fast food fund you’ll likely dip into more than once during your college career.)
Still want to know more? Jump down to our methodology section.