Since public universities receive funding from federal and state governments, they are often able to make student tuition more affordable than private universities. That said, though public universities are generally more affordable, they are not lower quality. In fact, several public universities are highly rated enough to be considered nearly Ivy League.
In 1985, Richard Moll, who was the dean of admissions at the University of California, Santa Cruz at the time, wrote a book called Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities. Though Moll originally only named eight schools as the “Public Ivies,” now essentially any public college or university with a reputation for academic excellence could be considered similar to an Ivy League school.
Since the schools on this list are highly-rated, they will have similar high expectations when it comes to college applications, just like Ivy League admission requirements; however, they are usually at least less expensive, especially for students who qualify for in-state tuition.
In-state and out-of-state tuition costs in this list are per year according to the US News list of top public universities in 2020.
UCLA is a public research university in Los Angeles. Known for its excellence in several subjects, UCLA also happens to be part of the University of California public school system, which boasts many public universities on this list.
In-state tuition and fees add up to $13,226, while out-of-state tuition and fees are much higher at $42,218.
Another public research university within the UC system, UC-Berkeley in Berkeley, California is known for its academic excellence and focus on innovation and a progressive approach to higher education.
In-state tuition and fees are $14,184, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $43,176.
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has been on the top list of public universities for decades. Another public research university, Michigan is actually the oldest university in the state of Michigan.
In-state tuition and fees cost $15,558, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $51,200.
The University of Virginia in Charlottesville was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson as an experiment to advance human knowledge through higher education and continues to attract top-notch students from around the world today.
In-state tuition and fees cost $17,891, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $50,920.
Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia is a top public research university that also happens to be one of the top universities for students interested in STEM-related majors. Students have been known to emerge from Georgia Tech with their pick of job prospects because of the university’s reputation and the demand for tech-related skills.
In-state tuition and fees are $12,682, and out-of-state tuition and fees cost $33,794.
The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, another top-rate public research university, boasts a culture of not only excellence but also collaboration and belonging, leading students to achieve solo academic success, but to also work together and become part of a thriving campus community.
In-state tuition and fees cost $9,043, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $36,222.
Another top public university in the UC system, UCSB attracts students from around the world not only because of its beautiful Santa Barbara campus but also because of its commitment to creative discovery and the meeting of brilliant minds, like Biopsychology and Zoology .
In-state tuition and fees are $14,391, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $43,383.
Located in Gainesville, the University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, clearly offering a variety of majors all known for excellence and innovation.
In-state tuition and fees are only $6,380, and out-of-state tuition and fees cost $28,658.
Yet another public university in the UC system recognized for excellence, UC Irvine is best known for its premier research, academic achievement, and innovation, along with its beautiful campus and anteater mascot.
In-state tuition and fees cost $13,727, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $43,481.
An additional UC school, UCSD allows students to enjoy academic excellence at a public research university. UCSD prides itself on helping students develop into changemakers and exploring paths less traveled, like Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts
In-state tuition and fees are $14,170, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $43,162.
Surprise, surprise! Another public university in the UC system, UC Davis is also a public land-grant university and is well known for its agricultural programs, sustainability, academic excellence, and innovative student body.
In-state tuition and fees are $14,492, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $43,484.
The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was founded all the way back in 1693 and has remained a top-rated public institution ever since. In fact, it is the second oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, after Harvard University, and is known for its cutting edge research and thriving student community.
In-state tuition and fees cost $22,922, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $46,283.
The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin is a public research university that focuses on providing students with limited opportunities for learning and growth through its variety of majors, international programs, and on-campus activities.
In-state tuition and fees are $10,725, and out-of-state tuition and fees cost $37,785.
The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana and is a public land-grant research university with a focus on making Illinois and the world a better place for its citizens through student development in leadership.
In-state tuition and fees cost $16,210, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $33,352.
The University of Texas in Austin is the state’s leading research university and is becoming increasingly known for its academic excellence and its partnerships with important businesses, community groups, and other non-profits to help its students make an impact, like the Austin Technology Incubator.
In-state tuition and fees are $10,818, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $38,228.
The University of Georgia in Athens is one of the nation’s oldest public research universities. Founded in 1785, UGA continues to challenge its students to grow and develop through global research, community outreach, and hands-on learning.
In-state tuition and fees are $12,080, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $31,120.
The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio now offers a wide variety of majors and disciplines; however, it was originally a public land-grant university known as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College with a heavy focus on agricultural and mechanical disciplines. Now, students flock to Ohio State for a world-class education and a fun campus culture.
In-state tuition and fees are $11,084, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $32,061.
Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university that also celebrates the traditions of a liberal-arts education. Students at Florida State focus on academic excellence but also develop character, strength, and skills to become lifelong learners.
Florida State is also relatively accessible. In-state tuition and fees are only $6,507, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $21,673.
Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania is a public land-grant university that boasts academic excellence with a specific focus on giving back to the community. At Penn State, students learn how to contribute to the world around them with their skills and talents.
In-state tuition and fees are $18,450, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $35,514.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana is a public land-grant university with a focus on teaching students how to move the world forward with their innovation and drive. Purdue boasts rigorous academic programs, like Biomedical Engineering, sure to challenge students from all over the world.
In-state tuition and fees cost $9,992, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $28,794.
University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania is a state-related research university originally founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787. Jonas Salk, an American physician, famously led researchers at Pitt to develop the first polio vaccine in 1955. The University of Pittsburgh boasts a great deal of history and successful graduates, and its students today continue to enjoy excellence in academics and research at Pitt.
In-state tuition and fees are $19,718, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $33,746.
Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Piscataway, New Jersey is one of three and the oldest of the regional campuses of Rutgers University. Along with its academic rigor, Rutgers prides itself on teaching students to develop and learn to become advocates for the public good.
In-state tuition and fees cost $15,407, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $32,189.
The University of Washington, also known as UW, is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, focused on academic and excellence, teaching students to help solve today’s most pressing challenges through scholarship and daring research.
In-state tuition and fees are $11,465, while out-of-state tuition and fees cost $38,796.
A public research university located in Storrs, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut is known for its excellence in academics with students from all over the world exceeding expectations in the pursuit of knowledge. Its diverse and vibrant culture that meets the needs of today’s global society mirrors the university’s history of success.
In-state tuition and fees cost $17,226, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $39,894.
The University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland is a public research university and global leader in entrepreneurship, research, and innovation. The university teaches its students to “do good” through their focus on research and academic rigor as a vehicle for social entrepreneurship.
In-state tuition and fees are $10,778, while out-of-state tuition and fees are $36,890.
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