The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Missouri
- Tips for Saving Money on College
- The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Missouri
- How Much Will You Pay for College?
Rising college costs have been top of mind for students across the country, but have recently come to the forefront in Missouri. In 2021, the governor signed a bill removing a cap that limited how much Missouri public schools could raise tuition. According to the Jefferson City News Tribune, Missouri’s median income is $30,000 a year and 92% of that income is needed to attend one of the state’s four-year institutions of higher education full time. Luckily, there are some steps Missourians can take to help control increasing college costs.
There are numerous steps that college-bound students can take to make higher education more affordable.
Summer and Winter Courses
One of the best ways to save on college expenses is to minimize the amount of time spent in college. Taking summer or winter classes is a proven method to help you stay on target to graduate on time—less than half of college students graduate in four years—which can help you avoid adding extra (and expensive) years to your time at college. It’s common for summer and winter courses to be less costly than classes offered during traditional semesters, adding even more value.
There’s no need for many students to wait until college to begin earning college credit. AP classes allow high schoolers to get a jump on filling their general education requirements as most colleges will award credit to students who score a 3 or higher on their AP exams. Not only do AP exams give you a headstart on college and make it easier to graduate in four years, but they are also a fraction of the cost of taking a college course.
Attending community college isn’t how many students envision their ideal college experience, but it does provide an excellent way to lower college costs. Community colleges are significantly less expensive than their four-year counterparts and financial aid is available. According to the Association of American Community Colleges, the average annual tuition and fees at community colleges in the 2021-2022 academic year were $3,800, compared to $10,740 at four-year, public, in-state colleges.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $5,040/$9,672
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Acceptance Rate: N/A
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,700
In addition to being one of the cheapest colleges in Missouri, Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) was the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River and just the 12th such institution in the United States. HSSU is one of just two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the state. HSSU has gained recognition for its strength in STEM programs—it’s one of Missouri’s largest producers of African American graduates in the STEM fields.
Learn more about Harris-Stowe State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $5,106/$11,064
Location: Maryville, MO
Acceptance Rate: 80%
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,600
Northwest Missouri State University, or just Northwest, is home to one of the best college athletic programs in the country—it’s won six Division II football national championships since 1998 and finished as runner-up four times. Northwest also won three consecutive Division II men’s basketball national championships in 2019, 2021, and 2022 (the 2020 tournament wasn’t played due to COVID-19), becoming the first program ever to do so. Outside of athletics, Northwest has taken steps to make obtaining a college education more affordable, such as providing every student with a laptop free of charge and offering a textbook rental program through which students pay just $6 per credit hour for their textbooks.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $6,720/$13,710
Location: Jefferson City, MO
Acceptance Rate: N/A
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,300
Lincoln University was founded in 1866 by the men of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantries and their white officers, for the education of freed African Americans. Lincoln University is one of two HBCUs in Missouri, however, following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the school opened its doors to all qualified applicants. The university is broken down into five academic schools and colleges—College of Agriculture, Environmental and Human Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, School of Education, and School of Nursing—and offers 32 different majors.
Learn more about Lincoln University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $6,779/$12,951
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO
Acceptance Rate: 93%
Undergrad Enrollment: 10,000
Southeast Missouri State University, or simply Southeast, is the state’s only campus dedicated to art, dance, music, and theatre. Southeast’s Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance is commonly counted among the best programs in the state and in the Midwest. Southeast has numerous offerings in addition to the performing arts, with 129 undergraduate majors. More than 200 student organizations are found on Southeast’s campus and the school has 20+ club and eSports teams. First-generation college students make up a significant portion of the student body—about 55% of first-time freshmen in 2020 were first-generation students.
Learn more about Southeast Missouri State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $6,840/$15,510
Location: Springfield, MO
Acceptance Rate: 87%
Undergrad Enrollment: 20,100
Missouri State University-Springfield is the main and largest of the three campuses of the Missouri State University system. The university offers 90+ majors, ranging from accounting to youth development. Greek life is an important aspect of the Missouri State University-Springfield experience—32 fraternities and sororities call the campus home and 2,500 students are members of a Greek chapter (about 10% of the overall student body). The website Niche ranks the university 130th for best Greek life in the nation and 126th on its list of top party schools in the country.
Learn more about Missouri State University-Springfield and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $6,964/$13,928
Location: Joplin, MO
Acceptance Rate: 98%
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,800
Missouri Southern State University, or more simply MOSO, fielded its first class in 1873. MOSO is known for its close proximity to some of the nation’s most breathtaking scenery and waterways. MOSO is divided into four academic colleges—the College of Arts & Sciences, Plaster College of Business, College of Education, and College of Health Sciences—and offers more than 140 programs ranging from those culminating in associate’s degrees to graduate degrees.
Learn more about Missouri Southern State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,005/$13,430
Location: Saint Joseph, MO
Acceptance Rate: N/A
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,400
Missouri Western State University (MWSU) is known for delivering high-quality and affordable education to students, with 92% of first-time full-time freshmen receiving grant or scholarship assistance. MWSU’s Griffon Guarantee scholarship is awarded to students with 3.0 high school GPAs and features bonuses based on SAT/ACT scores and Missouri A+ certification. The dollars awarded through the Griffon Guarantee scholarship grow as a student progresses through college provided the recipient remains in good standing and attends full-time.
Learn more about Missouri Western State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,128/$14,256
Location: Warrensburg, MO
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Undergrad Enrollment: 9,300
The University of Central Missouri (UCM) was founded as a training school for teachers in 1871 and named Normal School No. 2—it took its current moniker in 2006. UCM’s athletic teams are named the Mules and Jennies depending on if they are male or female and one of the school’s traditions is to kiss the mule statue in front of the football stadium to ensure future success. The website Niche ranks UCM as one of the more conservative colleges in the country, placing it 94th out of 854 schools.
Learn more about the University of Central Missouri and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,975/$15,335
Location: Kirksville, MO
Acceptance Rate: 72%
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,500
Truman State University (TSU) is named after Harry S. Truman, the only President of the United States to have hailed from Missouri. Cost-sensitive college-bound students will love to learn that 97% of TSU students earn scholarships and half of them graduate with no student loan debt. TSU offers 52 majors through its five academic colleges: School of Arts and Letters, School of Business, School of Health Sciences and Education, School of Science and Mathematics, and School of Social and Cultural Studies.
Learn more about Truman State University and what it takes to get accepted.
Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $8,593/$23,634
Location: Kansas City, MO
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,300
There’s a lot for students to like about the University of Missouri–Kansas City, which ranks 351st for in-state students (479th for out-of-state students) on the website Payscale’s list of best value colleges. More than 40% of UMKC alumni live and work in Kansas City, which should come as no surprise, once you learn that Kansas City ranks third in the nation in adjusted pay for recent college graduates. Research and creative projects are an important aspect of an undergraduate experience at UMKC and the school provides programs that help fund them, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) and Students Engaged in the Arts and Research (SEARCH) grants.
Learn more about the University of Missouri–Kansas City | UMKC and what it takes to get accepted.
Net price provides an accurate picture of what a student can expect to pay for college—it’s a calculation that accounts for factors such as financial aid and scholarship dollars received. Almost every college provides a net price calculator and while you can use each school’s individual calculators, our free Financial Aid Calculator lets you estimate the cost of schools across Missouri and the country in just minutes.