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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Virginia

What’s Covered:


The “birthplace of a nation,” Virginia is known for many things: Colonial Williamsburg, Shenandoah National Park, the Appalachian Trail, and oysters, to name a few. It’s also home to some of the U.S.’s top colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, a so-called “Public Ivy.”


But too often, despite having numerous renowned colleges at their doorstep, many students are unable to access these schools because of their high price tag. Here’s the good news: there are many affordable schools right in your state.


Tips for Saving Money on College


1. Look beyond the sticker price. 


Students rarely end up paying full freight, despite the advertised price. In fact, many private colleges can end up costing even less than public institutions because top schools often award generous financial aid. Take this into account when researching your options.


2. Apply to schools that meet 100% of need.


On that note, look for schools that commit to meeting 100% of need for accepted students. Many top-tier colleges and universities, including Ivies, have made this pledge.


3. Apply for scholarships.


Start your scholarship search early, bearing in mind that outside awards can help offset the cost of your college education significantly, even though institutional aid is your best source of financial support.


Most Affordable Colleges in Virginia


1. Virginia State University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $5,540/$16,542 

Location: Petersburg

Acceptance Rate: 96%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,900


Founded in 1882, VSU is an HBCU, the first fully state-supported four-year college or university for black students in the United States. Today, College Choice ranks the university 12th among 104 HBCUs.


VSU holds a number of other accolades and distinctions. For example, it is ranked fifth in the country as a top product of teachers. Meanwhile, its Department of Art and Design has been named the Best Fine Arts Program at an HBCU by HBCU Digest. It is also among the Top 10 for Student Retention Programs at HBCUs.


Learn more about VSU and what it takes to get accepted.


2. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $5,693/$23,960

Location: Wise

Acceptance Rate: 83%

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,000


UVA Wise consists of 10 departments across Business & Economics, Communications, Education, History & Philosophy, Language and Literature, Mathematics and Computer Science, Natural Sciences, Nursing, Social Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts. 


Part of UVA, the institution is a public liberal arts college situated in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. It is notable for its low student-to-faculty ratio, its dedication to reducing/eliminating student debt, and its picturesque campus.


Learn more about UVA Wise and what it takes to get accepted.


3. Old Dominion University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,029/$26,664

Location: Norfolk

Acceptance Rate: 95%

Undergrad Enrollment: 19,300


Ranked the no. 1 best school for vets in Virginia by Military Times, Old Dominion has 25% military-affiliated students. It was originally established as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in 1930. Today, it has grown into one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the state.


Old Dominion has been ranked as a Top 15 National Institution for African-American Student Success by Education Trust. Its online bachelor’s programs are also ranked among the best by U.S. News.


Learn more about ODU and what it takes to get accepted.


4. James Madison University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,250/$23,564

Location: Harrisonburg

Acceptance Rate: 80%

Undergrad Enrollment: 19,900


JMU offers more than 130 degree programs across areas including Business; Communications; Education; Health & Behavioral Studies; Humanities and Social Science; Science, Technology, Engineering & Math; and Visual and Performing Arts. 


Founded in 1908, the university was ranked the no. 1 most innovative university in the South by U.S. News, and 80% of students perform research, an internship, or a practicum or student teach. The school is also the no. 1 best college for employment in Virginia according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.


Learn more about JMU and what it takes to get accepted.


5. Radford University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $7,922/$19,557

Location: Radford

Acceptance Rate: 79%

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,900


Radford has been recognized for its many academic programs, along with its commitment to sustainability. All in all, the university offers 76 bachelor’s programs, 28 master’s, three associate degrees, and six doctoral programs, as well as certificates. Radford also competes in NCAA Division I and has more than 300 clubs and organizations for students.


Learn more about Radford and what it takes to get accepted.


6. Longwood University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $8,180/$24,620

Location: Farmville

Acceptance Rate: 87%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300


The third-oldest public university in Virginia, Longwood, formerly a college, became a university in 2002. It is comprised of three colleges and is also supported by an Honors College and the College of Graduate and Professional Services. A low student-faculty ratio, tight-knit community, and Civitae Core Curriculum are just some aspects of the school that set it apart. It was also named one of U.S. News’ Top 10 Public Schools in the South.


Learn more about Longwood and what it takes to get accepted.


7. Virginia University of Lynchburg


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $8,200/$8,200

Location: Lynchburg

Acceptance Rate: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 200


A historically Black Christian university, VUL, formerly Virginia Theological Seminary and College, remains committed to its original Christian Doctrine and Principles. The oldest school of higher learning in Lynchburg, it offers a number of degrees, largely in or related to religious studies, at multiple levels.


Learn more about VUL and what it takes to get accepted.


8. University of Mary Washington


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $8,678/$25,335

Location: Fredericksburg

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,400


Home to more than 60 majors and programs of study, UMW was originally founded in 1908 as Fredericksburg Teachers College. Today, it is comprised of three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education. While undergraduate education was originally UMW’s main focus, now, it offers several master’s degrees. 


Many students study abroad. Students are encouraged to explore a range of diverse topics in first-year seminar courses, which allow them to develop their core skills and join in discussions.


Learn more about UMW and what it takes to get accepted.


9. Christopher Newport University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: $9,100/$21,566

Location: Newport News

Acceptance Rate: 76%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,800


Foundational to CNU is its liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The rigorous core curriculum has been named the strongest of its kind by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The university emphasizes the study of leadership and has created a “nationally respected” President’s Leadership Program. Additionally, it encourages students to perform community service.


CNU has appeared on U.S. News’ rankings of Most Innovative Schools and Best Undergraduate Teaching.


Learn more about CNU and what it takes to get accepted.


10. George Mason University


Tuition In-state/Out-of-state: 

Location: Fairfax

Acceptance Rate: 89%

Undergrad Enrollment: 26,100


Originally founded in 1949 as a northern branch of UVA, George Mason has accrued many accolades in its short history. U.S. News named it the most diverse university in Virginia, for one. It also boasts 500 student groups and a number of fraternities and sororities. 


George Mason is now the largest public research university in Virginia, with three campuses in the state and one in Songdo, Korea. Students come from 130 countries and 50 states to take advantage of an education at the institution.


Learn more about George Mason and what it takes to get accepted.


Find more affordable colleges and universities in Virginia.


How Much Will You Pay for College?


Chances are, you won’t pay the stated sticker price at any school you choose to attend. Find out the net price you can expect based on your individual financial circumstances using our free financial aid calculator!


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.