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The 10 Cheapest Colleges in West Virginia

What’s Covered:


West Virginia is renowned for its scenic beauty, vast mountains and hills, and abundance of outdoor activities. Whether you want a change of pace from the big city, want to get more in touch with nature, or want to try out things like hiking, skiing, rafting, and mountain biking, West Virginia might be the place for you.


Academically, colleges and universities in West Virginia are known for strong programs in certain types of engineering and psychology, which might also be of interest to you. If you’re thinking about spending your college years in picturesque West Virginia, you don’t have to break the bank.


Tips for Saving Money on College


A college’s sticker price is a useful metric to get a general sense of how much a school will cost, but there are many other factors to keep in mind when you’re considering your options for college.


Applying for Schools That Meet 100% of Demonstrated Financial Need


Demonstrated financial need is how much financial assistance you need to cover the cost of college. To determine demonstrated financial need, two data points are examined—a family’s expected family contribution (EFC), and the cost of attendance (COA).


The expected family contribution is basically the amount your family is expected to be able to contribute, as determined by your FAFSA. Generally, the higher a family’s income is, the higher the EFC will be.


The cost of attendance is the total sticker price at a college or university. This figure includes tuition, room and board, fees, and often some essential personal expenses like student health insurance. The COA is the total cost of attending an institution for one academic year. Note that in many places, the word “tuition” often refers to the total COA, including tuition, fees, room and board, etc.


Demonstrated financial need is simply the gap between the COA and the EFC. For example, if your family’s EFC is $20,000 and your desired institution’s COA is $55,000, your demonstrated financial need for that institution is: $55,000 (COA) – $20,000 (EFC) = $35,000


Applying for schools that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need is an excellent way to financially plan for your college education.


Attending an In-State Public School


There are two major things to consider when looking at colleges from a financial standpoint—in-state vs out-of-state schools, and public vs private schools. There is no single cost of attendance that applies to all schools, but as a general rule, in-state schools are cheaper than out-of-state ones and public schools are cheaper than private ones.


According to the College Board, for the 2022-23 academic year, public four-year in-state colleges’ average sticker price is $10,950. This is a large amount, but it’s still much less expensive than private non-profit four-year colleges’ average sticker price, $39,400.


These trends can largely be attributed to two things. First, attending college in your state of residence can save you money on housing. If you can live at home while attending college, you can avoid the costs of room and board. Second, public colleges receive most of their funding from local and federal governments, which allows them to lower the students’ costs. Private colleges have to secure a majority of their funding through their endowments and tuition costs.


Try to Get AP Credits


AP courses are designed to be a bit more rigorous than regular high school courses, but you are rewarded for your hard work. Most colleges will award credits to students who score a 3 or higher on many of the available AP exams. Note that some colleges are more selective and may require a score of 4 or higher.


Many colleges, especially those with a focus on liberal arts, have core general education requirements in the life sciences (biology, ecology, etc.), physical sciences (chemistry, physics, etc.), social sciences (psychology, anthropology, etc.), mathematics, foreign language, music, and art.


The AP courses currently offered are all in fields that are very likely to count toward some of these degree requirements, so consider taking some AP courses while in high school to get a head start on your college credits!


The 10 Cheapest Colleges in West Virginia


Looking for a quality college education in West Virginia at an affordable cost? Below are the ten cheapest colleges and universities in the state. The list is sorted by in-state tuition.


1. Potomac State College of West Virginia University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $4,536/$11,544

Location: Keyser, WV

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,500


Potomac State College boasts one of the lowest costs in the nation for a four-year institution. It is known for its small size and approachable faculty, but there’s still plenty to see and do. Potomac offers 11 competitive athletic teams and unique outdoor activities that can only be experienced in the Potomac Highlands.


Learn more about Potomac State College of West Virginia University and what it takes to get accepted.


2. Shepherd University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $5,790/$15,276

Location: Shepherdstown, WV

Acceptance Rate: 96%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,000


With more than 80 majors and 15 NCAA Division II athletic teams, Shepherd University offers many opportunities to discover something you might love. Situated above the Potomac River and only 90 minutes from the bustling cities of Washington, DC and Baltimore, Shepherd University gives students the chance to find both rural and urban experiences at their fingertips.


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


3. Fairmont State University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $5,888/$14,752

Location: Fairmont, WV

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,900


Known for years as “the college on the hill,” Fairmont State University enjoys a 120-acre campus on a charming hillside. Being in a small city surrounded by nature, Fairmont possesses the opportunities offered by a comprehensive university as well as the personal attention and tight-knit community that you might find at a small public college.


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


4. Glenville State University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $6,140/$6,934

Location: Glenville, WV

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,700


Glenville State University is often referred to as the Lighthouse on the Hill due to its central position in West Virginia. 2022 marks the university’s 150th anniversary, and it is a big year for GSU. In February, the college attained university status, which is sure to increase both enrollment and academic rigor.


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


5. Marshall University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $7,190/$18,044

Location: Huntington, WV

Acceptance Rate: 98%

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900


Marshall University is perhaps best known for its Division I football team, but it also boasts some of the most affordable degrees in a diverse array of fields, including business economics, occupational health and safety, and sports medicine. Its campus has also been voted the most beautiful in West Virginia by several publications.


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


6. West Virginia University Institute of Technology


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $7,560/$18,912

Location: Beckley, WV

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800


Despite its name, West Virginia University Institute of Technology offers a range of degrees in fields like business, science, and the humanities and social sciences. Nevertheless, WVU Tech’s nine degree programs in engineering, computer science, and engineering technology are ABET accredited and have received national rankings.


Learn more about West Virginia University Institute of Technology and what it takes to get accepted.


7. West Virginia State University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $7,912/$13,600

Location: Institute, WV

Acceptance Rate: 97%

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300


Originally opened in 1891 to provide African-American citizens with an education in agriculture and the mechanical arts, West Virginia State University remains a nationally recognized HBCU. Today, WVSU is a fully-accessible, diverse, and inclusive masters degree granting institution.


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


8. Concord University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $8,050/$17,702

Location: Athens, WV

Acceptance Rate: 96%

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,700


Located on a knoll overlooking the mountains of West Virginia, Concord University is known for its rigorous education programs. The university was founded by Civil War veterans as a school for training teachers in pedagogy and curriculum. Nevertheless, Concord offers degrees in a diverse range of fields from business to nursing to fine arts.


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


9. West Liberty University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $8,150/$16,090

Location: West Liberty, WV

Acceptance Rate: 74%

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,500


The first institution of higher education in West Virginia, West Liberty University is an inclusive, student-centered community that cultivates scholarly exploration and global citizenship. West Liberty offers nearly 70 majors and has been the college of renowned surgeons, accomplished artists, and award-winning entrepreneurs.


Learn more about West Liberty University and what it takes to get accepted.


10. West Virginia University


Tuition In-State/Out-of-State: $8,976/$25,320

Location: Morgantown, WV

Acceptance Rate: 90%

Undergrad Enrollment: 22,200


West Virginia University is an R1 research university, one of only 146 in the United States. No matter what you’re interested in, chances are WVU is conducting research on it—from astronomy to neuroscience to rural health. Additionally, the university has 17 Division I sports teams and is home to many notable athlete alumni.


Learn more about West Virginia University and what it takes to get accepted.


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


How Much Will You Pay for College?


The published sticker price is just an estimate of the cost of college that doesn’t account for many variables including your family’s EFC, financial aid packages, and scholarships. What college actually costs varies from person to person, even within the same institution. Sticker prices are a good starting point, but often won’t accurately reflect how much college will actually cost.


CollegeVine offers a free Financial Aid Calculator to help you determine how much aid your family might receive from hundreds of institutions across the country! Also check out our free Chancing Engine, which can estimate your odds of being accepted into hundreds of colleges. Both of these services used in tandem can paint a clearer picture of your financial and educational future, allowing you to make the most informed decisions you can.

Nick Vidal
Blog Writer

Short Bio
A graduate of NYU, Nick majored in psychology and minored in data science. He lives in New York, where he enjoys writing essays and music.