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The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Arizona

What’s Covered:


Arizona might have the distinction of being the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, but it’s first on many college-bound students’ lists of where to attend school. The state offers potential students a variety of options from huge public universities to technical schools to small private colleges—including some very affordable options. 


Below are the ten cheapest colleges in Arizona along with some information about each school. 


Tips for Saving Money on College


The cost of college has outpaced inflation by 28% at public institutions and 19% at private nonprofit ones in the decade preceding the pandemic and is still climbing. According to the College Board, in the 2020-2021 academic year, the price of public four-year state schools jumped 1.5% for in-state students and 1.6% for out-of-state students. Over the same time, the price of private nonprofit four-year colleges grew by 2.1%. While students can’t control increasing college costs, there are some steps they can take to manage their own college expenses. 


Attend an In-State Public Institution 


Attending an in-state public university is a tried-and-true strategy for lowering college costs. Tuition at a four-year private nonprofit university is almost three times that of the cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public school. While public institutions are generally a more affordable option, don’t rule out private colleges, particularly those with a history of awarding generous financial aid packages—like these 50 colleges that give out the most merit aid


Apply to Schools That Meet 100% of Demonstrated Need


Many schools commit to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for all accepted students—that is the difference between what a family can contribute toward tuition minus the cost of attendance. Schools that meet 100% demonstrated need of their students provide financial support through a combination of grants, loans, work-study, and/or scholarships, providing an alternative to expensive private loans.


Apply for Scholarships 


College scholarships have been in existence almost as long as colleges themselves—the first scholarship in the U.S. was awarded in 1643 at Harvard, just seven years after the institution’s founding. Today, scholarships remain an integral way for students to control college costs. Outside scholarships garner a lot of attention, but students should prioritize earning scholarship dollars from the schools themselves—colleges and universities fund $175 billion in scholarships annually, significantly more than the $11 billion in scholarships provided by other organizations.


The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Arizona


1. Diné College


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $1,320/$1,320 

Location: Tsaile, AZ 

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800


Diné College is the first tribally controlled and accredited collegiate institution in the United States—it was established in 1968 as Navajo Community College and later renamed Diné College. It was created to encourage Navajo youth to become contributing members of the Navajo Nation and the world. The school is primarily made up of Navajo students and offers more than ten bachelor’s programs and 16 associate’s programs through four schools:


  • School of Arts, Humanities, and English
  • School of Diné Studies and Education
  • School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
  • School of Business and Social Science


Learn more about Diné College and what it takes to get accepted.


2. Northern Arizona University | NAU


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $10,650/$25,396

Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 78%

Undergrad Enrollment: 28,000


In addition to being one of the cheapest colleges in Arizona, there’s a lot to love about Northern Arizona University, particularly its location. Looming over NAU and the city of Flagstaff is Arizona’s tallest mountain (Humphrey’s Peak) and surrounding it is the world’s largest ponderosa forest. Flagstaff is also home to some of the darkest skies on the planet—it’s the world’s first International Dark Sky City—making it a popular astro-tourism destination. Flagstaff is also the recipient of nearly 300 sunny days a year. 


NAU’s student body is reflective of its community. The university is designated as a Hispanic-serving institution; 25% of its Flagstaff campus students are Hispanic. Almost half (46%) of NAU undergraduates are first-generation college students. 


Learn more about Northern Arizona University and what it takes to get accepted.


3. Arizona State University | ASU


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $10,710/$28,800

Location: Tempe, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Undergrad Enrollment: 68,900


Arizona State University actually predates Arizona’s statehood—it was founded in 1885, 27 years before Arizona was declared an official state. ASU’s Tempe campus is home to more than 40,000 undergraduates, making it one of the biggest colleges in the U.S. Supporting its massive student body are more than 1,500 student organizations and more than 500,000 alumni. ASU delivers its students an excellent return on their investment—the website Payscale ranks it 240th for in-state students and 393rd for out-of-state students (out of 1,978 schools) on its list of best-value colleges


Learn more about Arizona State University and what it takes to get accepted.


4. Arizona State University-West


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $10,710/$28,800

Location: Glendale, AZ 

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,000


Arizona State University-West is one of five ASU locations. Arizona State University-West blends a classic liberal arts education with 21st-century workforce preparation—it’s home to students pursuing degrees in the health industry, business, education, and interdisciplinary arts and science programs. Notable programs at ASU-West are its Bachelor of Science in forensic science along with its Bachelor of Global Management and Bachelor of Science in International Trade—the first two undergraduate degrees offered by Thunderbird School of Global Management. 


Learn more about Arizona State University-West and what it takes to get accepted.


5. Arizona State University-Polytechnic


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $10,710/$28,800 

Location: Mesa, AZ

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,500


Arizona State University-Polytechnic is a hub for students studying interdisciplinary sciences, engineering, management, technology, and education. The university prides itself on its distinctive course offerings, project-based learning experiences, and cutting-edge labs featuring high-tech tools like 3-D printers and laser engravers. Outside the classroom and lab, students can visit the Desert Arboretum, which features the largest date palm collection of any public garden in the country—it contains more than 40 date palm varieties—and was designed to conserve water and highlight drought-tolerant plants.


Learn more about Arizona State University-Polytechnic and what it takes to get accepted.


6. Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $10,710/$28,800

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 8,700


Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix’s location in the state capital provides its students with numerous unique academic, professional, and recreational opportunities. Students studying at the university are preparing for a wide range of careers in healthcare, business, government, and law—the website Niche ranks the university 37th (out of 695 schools) on its list of best colleges in the nation for criminal justice. Journalism and media are also popular fields of study at ASU Phoenix. The university is home to both Arizona PBS and the prestigious Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication—one of the nation’s top journalism schools.


Learn more about Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix and what it takes to get accepted.


7. University of Arizona


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $11,299/$35,326

Location: Tucson, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 87%

Undergrad Enrollment: 40,300


Like ASU, the University of Arizona was also founded in 1885, before Arizona gained statehood. The University of Arizona is known for its diverse student body—25.3% identify as Hispanic/Latinx, 10.6% as Asian, 6.7% as Black/African American, and 3.5% as American Indian/Native Alaskan. In fact, the website Niche ranks the University of Arizona as the 7th best Hispanic-serving institution in the country. One of the more interesting undergraduate programs at the University of Arizona is its Bachelor of Arts in Law—the only B.A. in Law degree in the United States.


Learn more about the University of Arizona and what it takes to get accepted.


8. Arizona Christian University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $27,500/$27,500

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 76%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,000


Arizona Christian University (ACU) is a private, non-profit, Christian university that provides students with a biblically integrated liberal arts education. All four-year ACU students graduate with a minor in biblical studies and must attend chapel twice a week, complete a spiritual formation, and participate in two service projects per semester. LGBTQ students are advised that ACU appears on Campus Pride’s Absolute Worst List, a collection of schools that are home to the absolute worst/most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ youth in the United States.


Learn more about Arizona Christian University and what it takes to get accepted.


9. Prescott College


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $31,944/$31,944

Location: Prescott, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Undergrad Enrollment: 500


Prescott College is a small private school located on 13 acres in Prescott, Arizona. The school offers ten undergraduate programs:


  • Adventure Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Arts and Letters Education
  • Environmental Studies
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Psychology & Human Development
  • Social Justice Studies
  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Sustainability Management


In addition to its main campus in Prescott, the college operates centers in Tucson, Arizona, and Kino Bay, Mexico.


Learn more about Prescott College and what it takes to get accepted.


10. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $36,456/$36,456

Location: Prescott, AZ

Acceptance Rate: 74%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,100


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott is divided into four colleges—the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Aviation, the College of Engineering, and the College of Business, Security, and Intelligence—through which it offers more than 20 majors. The university specializes in aviation, aerospace, security, and intelligence—it’s home to the nation’s only College of Security and Intelligence. The school delivers exceptional flight training, boasting a variety of airplanes, helicopters, and flight simulators. It also fields a winning flight team—the Golden Eagles Flight Team has claimed 15 National Championships. 


Learn more about Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott and what it takes to get accepted.


Interested in more Arizona schools? Take a look at our list with more of the most affordable colleges in Arizona!


How Much Will You Pay for College?


Whether you’re planning on attending college in Arizona or another state, the sticker price of a college is rarely what you’ll actually pay. Net price—the cost of attendance minus any grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and other aid—is a better metric for determining the real cost of college. While most schools host their own net price calculator, CollegeVine’s free financial aid calculator allows you to determine the net price of hundreds and colleges and universities across the U.S. in one place and eliminates the need to hop from site to site.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.