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The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Massachusetts

What’s Covered:


Massachusetts is home to some of the most prestigious and selective colleges and universities in the country—from world-renowned institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to highly regarded liberal arts colleges like Williams College and Amherst College. Although the state’s top schools steal the spotlight, the Bay State is home to many affordable institutions as well; keep reading to learn about the ten cheapest colleges in Massachusetts.


Tips for Saving Money on College


There are numerous steps that college-bound students can take to make higher education more affordable.


Attend an In-State Public School 


You don’t need to major in mathematics to calculate the value of attending an in-state public institution. On average, the cost of tuition at a private four-year undergraduate college is three times more than at a comparable public institution—$33,150 vs. $9,580. While in-state public schools are typically the least expensive option, it’s not always the case. Private colleges and universities are commonly more generous at awarding aid—especially to students with particularly strong profiles—which can make them the more affordable option.  


Reciprocity Programs 


Dreaming of an out-of-state school and in-state tuition prices? Reciprocity programs provide students the opportunity to attend colleges or universities in a state other than the one where they reside for in-state or reduced tuition. Reciprocity programs are generally found between neighboring states or states in the same region.  


Advanced Placement (AP) Credits


AP credits allow students to begin proactively managing college costs while in high school. Many colleges count AP classes—if the student receives a 3 or higher on the AP exam—toward the credits needed to graduate. This reduces the number of costly classes students need to take in college and helps ensure they graduate in four years (roughly a quarter of those who earn bachelor’s degrees take more than four years to complete their program). The average cost of a college credit is:


  • At four-year public in-state colleges: $448  
  • At four-year public out-of-state colleges: $1,148
  • At four-year private nonprofit colleges: $1,586 


The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Massachusetts


1. Bridgewater State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $910/$7,050

Location: Bridgewater, MA

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,500


Bridgewater State University is the tenth-largest four-year academic institution in Massachusetts, home to almost 10,000 students and more than 75,000 alumni. Bridgewater offers 53 undergraduate programs and grants degrees in everything from accounting to theatre. Bridgewater is committed to equality and growing more diverse—49% of students are first-generation, 10% are openly LGBTQ+, and 26% are students of color. Bridgewater receives 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index


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


2. Salem State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $910/$7,050

Location: Salem, MA

Acceptance Rate: 87%

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,800


Salem State University is located in the historic seaside city of Salem, just 15 miles north of Boston. Salem State offers 33 undergraduate degree programs in fields ranging from biology to United States history. More than 65 student groups and clubs are found across Salem State’s five campuses and 115 acres. 


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


3. Fitchburg State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $970/$7,050

Location: Fitchburg, MA

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,500


Fitchburg State University integrates high quality professional programs with strong liberal arts and sciences programs. Fitchburg State offers over 30 undergraduate degree programs with small class sizes and hands-on professional education. Fitchburg graduates are creative and critical thinkers from a variety of disciplines and experiences.


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


4. Framingham State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $970/$7,050

Location: Framingham, MA

Acceptance Rate: 79%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,900


Founded in 1839, Framingham State College was the nation’s first public normal school, a college to train teachers. For the school’s first 125 years, it was a women’s-only college—men were not admitted until 1964. Today, Framingham State University is known for its diversity; men now make up 42% of the undergraduate student body and 41% of undergraduates are people of color. The school has appeared multiple times on INSIGHT Into Diversity’s list of top colleges for diversity


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


5. Westfield State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $970/$7,050

Location: Westfield, MA

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,300


Westfield State University was founded in 1839 as the first public coeducational teaching college in the country. Originally located in Barre, Massachusetts, today the college encompasses 256 acres in Westfield—about two hours outside Boston and three hours from New York City—and offers 33 majors. Westfield students are busy outside of the classroom, participating in intramural sports, taking part in the school’s 70+ clubs and organizations, and performing community service. 


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


6. Worcester State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $970/$7,050

Location: Worcester, MA

Acceptance Rate: 81%

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,300


Worcester State University is located in Massachusetts’s second-largest city and is within an hour’s drive of Boston as well as Providence, Rhode Island. Worcester is a sneaky good college town—it’s home to eight colleges and universities and more than 35,000 college students. Worcester State has prioritized cultivating a vibrant campus life and a welcoming environment. In that vein, the school scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index, a benchmarking tool that assesses institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs, and practices.


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


7. Massachusetts College of Art and Design | MassArt


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $1,030/$26,630

Location: Boston, MA

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,900


For roughly a century and a half, MassArt has been providing education in art and design—it has the distinction of being the first publicly supported freestanding visual arts college in the country. All MassArt students complete their undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). MassArt is a member of the Colleges of the Fenway (COF)—along with Emmanuel College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Simmons University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology—which allows students to cross-register for classes, join intramural teams, and participate in ensembles like orchestra, jazz band, and dance at other member institutions. 


Learn more about the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and what it takes to get accepted.


8. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $1,030/$9,975

Location: North Adams, MA

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,200


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is located in North Adams, one of the state’s funkiest small cities. In fact, it is the smallest city in Massachusetts. North Adams is home to MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and is just down the road from Mount Greylock, the tallest mountain in the state and an inspiration to authors such as Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is known for its intimate 105-acre campus and tight-knit community—the school’s average class size is just 18 students and it has a low 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. 


Learn more about the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and what it takes to get accepted.


9. Massachusetts Maritime Academy | MMA


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $1,890/$17,010

Location: Buzzards Bay, MA

Acceptance Rate: 92%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,700


In addition to being one of the cheapest colleges in Massachusetts, Mass Maritime Academy (MMA) is also one of the best values in the nation. The website Niche ranks MMA 35th in the nation on its list of best value colleges in America, while Payscale places it 25th for in-state students and 36th for out-of-state students on its ranking of best value colleges. All MMA students are members of the Regiment of Cadets, which is inspired by the U.S. Military and Merchant Marine, requiring students to wear a uniform and adhere to a regimented schedule. There is no service obligation for cadets, although commissioning options are available to interested students. 


Learn more about the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and what it takes to get accepted.


10. Boston Baptist College


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $11,400/$11,400

Location: Boston, MA

Acceptance Rate: 78%

Undergrad Enrollment: Fewer than 200 


Located in one of the country’s most-renowned college cities, Boston Baptist College is the only institution dedicated to Biblical Christian education in Boston. Boston Baptist College provides just one four-year degree: a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies (B.B.S.). The school is located in the quiet residential neighborhood of Hyde Park, with easy access to public transportation and the city as a whole. 


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


How Much Will College Cost Your Family?


Simply looking at the sticker prices of schools will not tell you what the cheapest colleges in Massachusetts are for you. The actual cost of each college can vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors, making sticker price a poor indicator of what you will pay. For example, it’s possible that an expensive private college ends up being more affordable than an in-state public school after financial aid is figured in.    


A better measure of the true cost of college is net price, a calculation that figures in financial aid. Most college websites provide a net price calculator, but our free Financial Aid Calculator allows you to easily estimate the expense of college for hundreds of schools in one place and in just minutes. Use it along with our free Chancing Engine to estimate your odds of acceptance and gain deeper insight into your college future.

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.