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The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Colorado

What’s Covered:

 

There are a lot of factors you need to consider when choosing a college and price is one of them—especially when you consider that over the past four decades, the average cost of tuition, fees, room, and board for an undergraduate degree has increased by 169%. Luckily there are a handful of ways to keep the expense of higher education affordable. 

 

Tips for Saving Money on College

 

Looking to lower the cost of college? Check out these great money-saving tips. 

 

State Schools 

 

State schools receive federal, state, and local funding, which allows them to offer lower-cost tuition to in-state students. According to U.S. News, the average cost of tuition and fees in 2021-2022 for a private college was $38,185—almost four times higher than the $10,338 it was for in-state students at public universities and colleges. That said, you can find value at private colleges, particularly at ones where your profile is strong. Private colleges will commonly award significant scholarships to strong applicants in hopes of enticing them to their institution. 

 

100% Demonstrated Need 

 

Applying to colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated need—a commitment by the school that all accepted students can attend regardless of their financial circumstances—is a smart strategy to ensure you can pay for college. However, it doesn’t necessarily help you avoid accumulating debt while earning your degree. To do that, you will want to apply to one of the few (and select) colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need without loans or without loans for certain income brackets.

 

Minimize Time in College 

 

Less than half of students graduate college in four years, and only about two-thirds of those who enter college graduate within six years. All of that extra time at college comes at a cost, namely spending money at school rather than earning it in the workforce. There are a number of ways to earn your degree in a timely fashion, such as earning college credit for AP classes, taking expanded course loads, attending school over the summer, and enrolling in dual-degree or accelerated programs. 

 

The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Colorado


1. United States Air Force Academy | Air Force

 
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: Free

Location: USAF Academy, CO

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300

 

The United States Air Force Academy is one of just five service academies in the U.S. The Air Force Academy is extremely selective, requires students to serve after graduation, and applicants must meet specific requirements—such as being between 17 and 23 years old and unmarried with no dependents. It’s also free. Those chosen to attend Air Force can anticipate a different experience from those attending a traditional college, with more regimented schedules, stricter rules, and receiving military training along with college coursework.

 

Learn more about the United States Air Force Academy and what it takes to get accepted.

 

2. Colorado Mountain College

 

Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,171/$21,915

Location: Glenwood Springs, CO 

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,600

 

Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is home to 11 campuses—three residential and eight commuter—scattered across the Rocky Mountains. CMC offers seven bachelor’s degrees:

 

  • Business Administration
  • Ecosystem Science & Stewardship
  • Education
  • Human Services
  • Leadership & Management
  • Nursing
  • Sustainability

 

CMC’s district spans 12,000 square miles and covers three national forests, six wilderness areas, and the majority of the state’s major ski resorts. CMC is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with more than a quarter of full-time undergraduates being Hispanic or Latino. 

 

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

 

3. Adams State University


Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $18,476/ $30,212

Location: Alamosa, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 100% 

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,900

 

Adams State University is a small school known for its diverse student body—it became Colorado’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution in 1998—and its commitment to underserved populations. Students from low-income backgrounds make up 40% of the student body, and half are the first in their families to attend college. Adams State University even has a program that supports migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their dependents, the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). 

 

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

 

4. University of Colorado Colorado Springs

 
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $19,500/$31,140

Location: Colorado Springs, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 90%

Undergrad Enrollment: 10,900 

 

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) is the fastest-growing of the four schools in the University of Colorado system. UCCS’s Rocky Mountain backdrop and its 300 days of annual sunshine are part of its appeal. The university is known for niche programs like disaster management, geropsychology (the psychology of older adults), professional golf management, and bachelor of innovation. UCCS is also known for its connection with the armed services—Colorado Springs is home to both Army and Air Force bases, and 20% of UCCS students are military-affiliated. 

 

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

 

5. Colorado State University-Pueblo


Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $19,521/$26,079

Location: Pueblo, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 94%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300  

 

Colorado State University-Pueblo began in 1933 as a three-room junior college with just two instructors and 63 students. Today, the university is a 275-acre institution that offers 35 undergraduate degrees to more than 4,000 students from all 50 states. The university has been a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) since 2004 and was named HSI of the year by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in 2008. In 2021, the university celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Chicano Studies program and announced plans to better serve the Hispanic community. 

 

Learn more about Colorado State University-Pueblo and what it takes to get accepted.

 

6. Colorado Mesa University

 

Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $19,854/$33,403

Location: Grand Junction, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,300


Nestled between the mountains and high desert canyons is Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the largest institution of higher education in the western part of the state. The school’s proximity to  Powderhorn Mountain Resort and more than 300 days of annual sunshine make it popular with outdoor recreationists. The college offers 118 majors through its 13 academic departments. Traditionally underrepresented students make up 29% of CMU’s student population, and the school offers online and distance classes to further service non-traditional and working students. 

 

Learn more about Colorado Mesa University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

7. Western State Colorado University


Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $20,520/$32,304

Location: Gunnison, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,600

 

Western Colorado University was founded more than a century ago (in 1901) as a teacher training college. Today, the university offers a curriculum based on liberal arts. The school’s 125-acre campus in the heart of the Rocky Mountains (and at almost 8,000 feet in elevation) makes it popular with adventurous undergraduates—they’re never far from world-class climbing, mountain biking, rafting, skiing, and snowboarding. It also makes the school a popular place to study environmental science. 

 

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

 

8. Fort Lewis College


Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $20,754/$31,410

Location: Durango, CO

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,200

 

Fort Lewis College (FLC) has an interesting history—it began as an army post in 1878 and in 1911 was converted to a boarding school for Native Americans. Today, FLC provides a liberal-arts-based curriculum, and Native Americans continue to have a significant presence at the school. Students representing 184 Tribes and Native Alaskan villages are found on campus and make up 42% of the student body. Fort Lewis College awards more degrees to Native American students than any other four-year, baccalaureate-granting institution in the nation. 

 

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

 

9. University of Northern Colorado | UNC

 

Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $21,372/$33,630

Location: Greeley, CO 

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Undergrad Enrollment: 10,200

 

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) was founded in 1899 as a school to train teachers and has grown into a major university offering more than 100 undergraduate programs today in fields such as the arts, business, health and wellness, humanities, science and technology, and social science. Almost half of UNC’s incoming class (42%) are first-generation college students. 

 

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

 

10. University of Colorado Denver | CU Denver

 

Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $22,781/$39,269

Location: Denver, CO

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Undergrad Enrollment: 16,400

 

CU Denver is Colorado’s only public urban research institution and earns high marks for its location—the website Niche ranks it as the 26th best college location in the country. CU Denver is almost the most diverse research institution in the state, with 42% of students identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Domestic students from 49 states call campus home, while international students from 66 countries study at CU Denver. Nearly half (49%) of CU Denver students are the first people in their families to complete a four-year degree.  

 

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

 

How Much Will You Pay for College?

 

The sticker price of a college is a poor indicator of what it will cost you to attend. Net price—a calculation that uses factors like financial aid and scholarships—provides a more accurate picture of what you can expect to pay for college. While you can use each individual school’s net price calculator, our free Financial Aid Calculator lets you estimate the cost of hundreds of schools in just minutes. 

 

Another useful tool provided by CollegeVine is our free Chancing Engine, which predicts your chance of acceptance based on grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and demographics. Use these free tools to improve your profile, improve your odds of acceptance, and plan your college finances!


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.