25 Most Affordable Colleges in Florida

Choosing a college or university in the Sunshine State could seem daunting, considering there are nearly 150 choices available to Florida students. To make the choice a little easier on your wallet, we’ve researched Florida schools to find the most affordable. We looked at tuition, room and board, and other data, and then ranked them as the top 25 most affordable. We’ve even broken it down for you by in-state (resident) costs and out-of-state (non-resident) costs.

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Where We Got the Data
We combed through data on the College Navigator from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES is a government organization that is responsible to collect and analyze data about education in the U.S. and in other nations. Some things to note about the data:

  • NCES doesn’t provide cost data for on-campus living, so this list represents what you’d expect to pay if you lived off campus.
  • We included only colleges with 3,000 or more enrolled students.
  • NCES also provides information on reported on-campus sexual assaults, burglary, and robbery.

Here’s how we calculated the total cost:  Tuition + Off-campus room and board + Off-campus other = Total Cost

That’s how we got the data. Now on to the rankings: Here are the least expensive colleges and universities in Florida for resident students living off campus.

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Most Affordable Florida Colleges for In-State Students

#1 – Indian River State College

Indian River State College, home to more than 17,600 Pioneers, topped our list as the overall cheapest for both resident and non-resident Florida students. The college is located in Fort Pierce, with branches in Okeechobee, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, and Vero Beach. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in programs ranging from Accounting to Nursing to Public Administration. Several degrees are available as online-only programs—convenient for many working students or those who have young children.

In 2014, Indian River was one of 10 community colleges nationwide recognized by the Aspen Institute for “community college excellence.”

NCES also reports that the college has low rates of on-campus sexual assault, burglary, and robbery.
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#2 – Daytona State College

Not far from world-famous Daytona Beach lies Florida’s second-most affordable college. More than 13,000 students attend the school, sporting blue and white as they cheer on their fellow Falcons. Daytona State College offers more than 100 bachelor’s and associate’s degrees and certificate programs, both online and on campus. All online courses are recorded and archived, so students can access them any time they need to. In its mission statement, Daytona State College states it emphasizes “student success, embracing excellence and diversity, as well as fostering innovation to enhance teaching and learning.”

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#3 – Gulf Coast State College

Gulf Coast State College in Panama City rounds out the top-three cheapest Florida colleges for residents. There isn’t exactly an army of Gulf Coast State College students—just fewer than 6,000 proud Commodores—but the students enjoy a small student-to-faculty ratio of just 19:1. Smaller classes have advantages, such as more committed faculty, more one-on-one time with teachers, and more curriculum freedom. Gulf Coast State College also showed zero reports of on-campus sexual assault, burglary, and robbery.

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#4 – Pasco-Hernando State College

Pasco-Hernando State College’s more than 11,000 Conquistadors attend campus in suburban New Port Richey or branches throughout Pasco and Hernando counties. The school offers associate’s degree programs among several fields such as Engineering, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement. It has two bachelor’s degree programs: one for Nursing and another for Supervision and Management. In 2016, Pasco-Hernando State College began accepting nursing students for a five-week accelerated CNA program.

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#5 – Seminole State College of Florida

More than 30,000 students attend Seminole State College of Florida’s four central-state campuses. The school offers 16 different programs, mainly certificates and associate’s degrees. It also has bachelor’s degrees available in Business Management, Construction, Interior Design, and others. Seminole State College is home to several regional athletic teams—the blue and gold Raiders—and is the alma mater of a few notable figures like celebrated SNL writer and screenwriter Paula Pell.

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#6 – Eastern Florida State College

Eastern Florida State College’s main campus sits just 20 miles from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It’s not surprising, then, that the college offers an Aerospace associate’s degree program. In 2015, the school was named the number two community college in Florida by schools.com, which rates schools on affordability, schedule flexibility, graduation rates, and other criteria. EFSC also accepts students in an array of two- and four-year programs, including Business Management, Drafting & Design, and Associate in Arts.

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#7 – College of Central Florida

Nestled in central Marion County is the College of Central Florida and 7,931 Patriots. The school was rated the number four community college in Florida in 2015 by schools.com for its affordability, online course access, high graduation rate, and other factors. Students at the College of Central Florida can choose from several bachelor’s, associate’s, and certificate programs to fit their needs.

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#8 – Santa Fe College

In 2015, Santa Fe College in Gainesville was named the number one community college in the U.S. by the Aspen Institute. The college also ranked at number three on the schools.com 2015 top colleges list, and was named the most affordable Florida college overall. Nicknamed the Saints, 15,055 students at Santa Fe College have access to a wealth of degree options, including bachelor’s programs in Clinical Laboratory Science, Early Childhood Education, and Industrial Biotechnology.

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#9 – Pensacola State College

Pensacola State College has 10,317 students working on bachelor’s, associates, and certificate programs. It has a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio of 21 to 1. The college has a unique relationship with the University of West Florida, called the PSC2UWF, which benefits students who transfer from Pensacola State College to UWF.

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#10 – Palm Beach State College

Palm Beach State College, founded over 80 years ago, offers associate in arts and bachelor’s degrees in more than 130 unique areas of study. It has more than 28,000 students, nicknamed the Panthers, who enjoy the college’s South Pacific campus.

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#11 – Lake-Sumter State College

Lake-Sumter State College is a central Florida school with campuses in Leesburg, Clermont, and Sumterville. It was was rated in the top 10 best community colleges in Florida by schools.com, in part for its low 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

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#12 – Florida State College at Jacksonville

Florida State College at Jacksonville, or FSCJ, has more than 25,000 students in programs ranging from 13 bachelor’s and 45 associate’s degrees, plus many certificate programs.

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#13 – St. Johns River State College

St. John’s River State College in Florida’s northeast is a open admission school with about 7,000 students. It is known for its “FloArts” accredited arts school. The college has an associate’s program that discounts the tuition for students transferring to the State University System of Florida.

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#14 – Valencia College

In 2015, schools.com ranked Valencia College in Orlando as the number one Florida community college. The school is one of Florida’s largest with more than 43,000 students, but is one of the most affordable and accessible in the state.

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#15 – Polk State College

Soar, Eagles! Polk State College in Winter Haven has more than 11,000 students in several bachelor’s, associate’s, and certificate programs. The school boasts several athletic conference and championship wins in baseball, basketball, and more.

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#16 – Northwest Florida State College

Another Panhandle school, Northwest Florida State College has campuses stretching across the northwest coast of Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the Alabama state line. It’s a smaller school, with just more than 6,000 students in its bachelor’s, associate’s, and certificate programs.

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#17 – St. Petersburg College

The St. Petersburg College campus sits in an urban setting in sunny St. Pete. It’s a large school, with more than 32,000 students, and offers many specialized programs and is the number one provider of online college courses in the Florida State College System.

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#18 – Florida SouthWestern State College

Florida SouthWestern State College students sport unique purple and aqua colors as they cheer on The Buccaneers. The school has more than 15,000 students attending campus in Fort Myers and other surrounding locations.

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#19 – University of West Florida

The University of West Florida sits among several bodies of water, including the Escambia River and Escambia Bay. This makes for ample outdoor recreation for the more than 12,600 students at the college.  UWF has many bachelor’s and associate’s degree, and is the most affordable college on our list to offer master’s or doctoral degrees.

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#20 – Florida Gulf Coast University

Fort Myers is home to Florida Gulf Coast University, a school that offers a wealth of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees for its 14,473 students to choose from.

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#21 – Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University in Tallahassee is a historically black university that has received several awards and accolades. It has been listed as one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best National Universities” and on The Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast” colleges.

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#22 – University of Florida

The University of Florida in Gainesville, home of the Gators, is one of the largest colleges in the state. It boasts the highest graduation rate on this list, at 88%.

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#23 – University of South Florida St. Petersburg

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg, or USF St. Pete, is a small college that is part of the University of South Florida System. It’s located in Tampa and has about 4,500 students.

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#24 – University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida is the largest university on our list, and the second-largest in the nation, with more than 60,000 students. The main campus UCF is in Orlando with several satellite campuses. UCF has a 70% graduation rate.

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#25 – University of North Florida

The University of North Florida rounds out our top 25 most affordable list. The Jacksonville school has nearly 16,000 students, nicknamed the Ospreys.

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Complete List of Schools for In-State Students

Here is the complete list of the most affordable Florida schools for resident students.

  1. Indian River State College
  2. Daytona State College
  3. Gulf Coast State College
  4. Pasco-Hernando State College
  5. Seminole State College of Florida
  6. Eastern Florida State College
  7. College of Central Florida
  8. Santa Fe College
  9. Pensacola State College
  10. Palm Beach State College
  11. Lake Sumter State College
  12. Florida State College at Jacksonville
  13. St. Johns River State College
  14. Valencia College
  15. Polk State College
  16. Northwest Florida State College
  17. St. Petersburg College
  18. Florida SouthWestern State College
  19. University of West Florida
  20. Florida Gulf Coast University
  21. Florida A&M University
  22. University of Florida
  23. University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  24. University of Central Florida
  25. University of North Florida

Most Affordable Florida Colleges for Out-of-State Students

If you’re not a Florida resident, tuition costs for colleges and universities in the state can differ widely from the in-state costs. Here’s our list of the top 25 most affordable Florida schools for out-of-state students. You’ll see some familiar names at the top, and a few new entries, too.

  1. Indian River State College
  2. Gulf Coast State College
  3. Eastern Florida State College
  4. Palm Beach State College
  5. Santa Fe College
  6. Seminole State College of Florida
  7. College of Central Florida
  8. Pasco-Hernando State College
  9. Daytona State College
  10. Florida State College at Jacksonville
  11. Valencia College
  12. Pensacola State College
  13. St. Johns River State College
  14. Polk State College
  15. Lake Sumter State College
  16. Northwest Florida State College
  17. St. Petersburg College
  18. Broward College
  19. Florida SouthWestern State College
  20. State College of Florida Manatee Sarasota
  21. University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  22. University of South Florida (Main Campus)
  23. Florida A&M University
  24. The University of West Florida
  25. Florida Atlantic University

Graduation Rates

Some colleges have better graduation rates than others. What does this mean to you as a prospective student? A college or university with a higher percentage of students who graduate within the traditional time frame could mean that the school has better resources, highly trained teachers, and small student-to-faculty ratios.

Because we think graduation rates are an important factor to consider when choosing a school, we’ve ranked Florida’s colleges and universities, too.

  1. Saber College
  2. University of Florida
  3. University of Miami
  4. Talmudic College of Florida
  5. Florida State University
  6. Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations
  7. Rollins College
  8. University of Central Florida
  9. Hobe Sound Bible College
  10. New College of Florida
  11. Univeristy of South Florida (Main Campus)
  12. Eckerd College
  13. Ringling College of Art & Design
  14. Florida Southern College
  15. The University of Tampa
  16. Santa Fe College
  17. Stetson University
  18. University of North Florida
  19. Palm Beach Atlantic University
  20. Florida International University
  21. Beacon College
  22. The University of West Florida
  23. Florida College
  24. Everglades University
  25. City College – Altamonte Springs

Living off campus? Consider purchasing renters insurance.

Insurance may be the last thing on your mind when deciding where to go to college and where you’ll live as a student. But if you’ll be living off campus, it makes sense to make sure your belongings—like laptops or music equipment—are protected in case they are damaged or stolen. To learn more about what renters insurance options are available in Florida, read our guide.

 

 

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