The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Wisconsin
- Tips for Saving Money on College
- The 10 Cheapest Colleges in Wisconsin
- How Much Will You Pay for College?
Wisconsin is home to one of the largest public university systems in the U.S., the University of Wisconsin (UW) System, which consists of 13 schools spread across 26 campuses. The UW System is known for delivering world-class educational and research opportunities to its students, as well as being one of the better values in higher education. After all, all ten of our cheapest colleges in Wisconsin are members of the UW System.
For students focused on controlling their college expenses, there are numerous proven strategies for keeping the cost of college down.
Community college isn’t the idyllic college experience most students dream of, however, it can offer huge savings on college costs. It’s significantly cheaper to earn college credit at a community college compared to four-year institutions. The average cost of a college credit hour is:
- $158 for students at two-year public, in-district schools
- $448 for students at four-year public, in-state colleges
- $1,148 for students at four-year public, out-of-state colleges
- $1,586 for students at four-year private, nonprofit colleges
Students can get a low-cost start to their college careers in community college before moving to a four-year college and undergraduate degree program.
Finish On Time
The longer you spend in college, the greater the expense—consequently, one of the best methods to control the cost of college is to make sure you finish on time. Only 45% of college students graduate in four years. There are a handful of ways to ensure you graduate on time, including:
- Strategically choose your courses and avoid classes that don’t count toward your degree
- Take AP exams—many colleges award credit to students who score a 3 or higher on their AP exams
- Enroll in summer classes to earn credit and stay on schedule to graduate in four years
Scholarships are an excellent opportunity for students to earn extra funds for college. Many students focus on outside scholarships, either large national awards like the Profile in Courage Essay Contest or smaller regional awards provided by local organizations, companies, and individuals. However, students should first focus their scholarship efforts on the schools themselves. Colleges and universities provide $175 billion to students annually compared to just $11 billion provided by other organizations—a fact that should get the attention of every cost-conscious college-bound student.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $14,963/$22,536
Location: River Falls, WI
Acceptance Rate: 77%
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,700
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) was founded in 1874 and today is one of the 13 comprehensive universities in the University of Wisconsin System. URWF is located in the St. Croix Valley and just 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, providing easy access to a variety of cultural, recreation, and employment opportunities. UWRF is a member of the Midwest Student Exchange Program—a reciprocity program that includes more than 70 institutions spread across eight states—which helps keep the school affordable to even out-of-state students.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,153/$23,371
Location: Green Bay, WI
Acceptance Rate: 90%
Undergrad Enrollment: 8,100
Helping make the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) one of the cheapest colleges in Wisconsin is its generous financial aid packages—84% of first-year students receive financial aid. Sustainability has been a core principle at UWGB for decades. The college boasts a massive 290-acre arboretum; employs initiatives such as saving and reusing scraps from their woodshop, painting, and sculpture classes; and maintains a student-run garden to provide firsthand experience with sustainable food practices. Inside the classroom, students can pursue a number of environmentally related academic programs, such as:
- Environmental Science
- Environmental Policy and Planning
- Environmental Engineering Technology
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,165/$22,738
Location: Superior, WI
Acceptance Rate: 86%
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,200
The University of Wisconsin-Superior is committed to the liberal arts tradition and has a long track record (it was founded in 1893) of graduating students with a strong set of transferable intellectual and practical skills with a readiness to apply them in the real world. UW-Superior students have excellent outcomes—an important consideration when determining the return on investment in a college—91% of students enter the workforce or continue their education within nine months of graduating.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Superior and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,170/$23,440
Location: Kenosha, WI
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Undergrad Enrollment: 4,000
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has the distinction of being the only state university in Wisconsin to earn the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HIS) designation—with a 17.9% Hispanic student population, UW-Parkside is considered an emerging HSI. UW-Parkside is located on 700 acres of the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor and is just seven miles from the Illinois border. UW-Parkside has the most diverse student body of all the four-year comprehensive institutions in the UW System and roughly 60% of the school’s graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,385/$24,257
Location: Whitewater, WI
Acceptance Rate: 80%
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,700
Commonly called the best value in the University of Wisconsin System, UW-Whitewater has taken a multitude of steps to keep college affordable—80% of students receive financial aid, the school’s textbook rental program covers 95% of course materials, and students receive free admissions to all regular season sporting events. Speaking of athletics, UW-Whitewater has some of the best sports in the nation according to the website Niche, which ranked it 46th out of 1,422 schools in its list of the best college athletics in America.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,643/$23,918
Location: Platteville, WI
Acceptance Rate: 81%
Undergrad Enrollment: 8,100
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is the oldest university in the UW System, it was founded in 1851. The university is located in Platteville, a small city in southwest Wisconsin that’s known for being home to the world’s largest “M,” which adorns a hillside outside of town. The “M” is the official symbol of UW-Platteville and has been featured in Life Magazine as well as on MTV. UW-Platteville has an excellent reputation for returning on the investment of its students, the website Payscale ranks the school 181st for in-state students and 209th for out-of-state students—out of 1,978 schools—on its list of best value colleges.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $15,930/$24,634
Location: Stevens Point, WI
Acceptance Rate: 87%
Undergrad Enrollment: 8,700
There’s a lot to love about attending UW-Stevens Point, starting with its location—the website WalletHub ranked it 60th on its list of best college towns and cities in America. Like the other schools of the UW System, sustainability is a priority here. The school is the first university in the state to have 100% of its electricity come from renewable sources and the first school in the UW System to offer composting in every academic building. Students interested in controlling college costs will be excited to learn that 88% of first-year students receive financial aid.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $16,223/$23,796
Location: Oshkosh, WI
Acceptance Rate: 79%
Undergrad Enrollment: 15,000
Sustainability is a point of pride at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh—the school has the distinction of being the nation’s first fair trade university and has been designated a Tree Campus USA for over a decade running. UW-Oshkosh is also known for its athletics, with 19 NCAA Division III championships (the second most of all the schools in the UW System). But it’s not all sustainability and sports at UW-Oshkosh, the student body also knows how to let its hair down—according to the website Niche, UW-Oshkosh is the 82nd (out of 1,612 schools) top party school in America.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $16,886/$24,853
Location: Menomonie, WI
Acceptance Rate: 90%
Undergrad Enrollment: 7,500
The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a career-focused polytechnic institution—one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the country—that provides students with firsthand experience in applied learning, scientific theory, and research. Thanks in part to industry partnerships with well-known companies like Target, Thomson Reuters, Sony, and 3M, 98.4% of UW-Stout students are employed within six months of graduation. UW-Stout groups its majors into six career clusters (collections of majors that lead to careers with parallel skillsets or interest areas):
- Art, Design, and Graphics
- Business and Management
- Human and Social Sciences
- Information Technology and Communications
- Science, Engineering, and Math
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Stout and what it takes to get accepted.
Total Cost In-state/Out-of-state: $17,345/$25,620
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Acceptance Rate: 84%
Undergrad Enrollment: 10,800
Since its founding in 1916, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has cultivated an environment where students thrive and graduate ready to succeed in any and every endeavor. UW-Eau Claire is home to more than 200 undergraduate programs ranging from actuarial science to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Outside of the classroom, UW-Eau Claire students have seemingly endless opportunities—the school is home to 230+ student organizations and club sports, intramurals, and group exercise classes.
Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and what it takes to get accepted.
Net price, a calculation that considers factors like financial aid and scholarships in addition to the sticker price, is the best metric for gauging what college will actually cost. While the overwhelming majority of colleges have their own net price calculator, our free Financial Aid Calculator lets you estimate the cost of hundreds of schools in one place and in just minutes.