Top 10 Most Affordable Colleges in North Carolina for Budget-Conscious Students

In the search for the right college, affordability is a key factor for many students and their families. North Carolina, known for its diverse higher education landscape, offers several options that won't leave you drowning in debt. Whether you're a resident or considering becoming an out-of-state student here, it's worth exploring the Tar Heel State's most affordable colleges. Let’s dive into the top 10 colleges where the tuition rates are as friendly as the campuses.

1. Elizabeth City State University

Located in Elizabeth City, this public institution stands out not just for its low tuition fees but also for its commitment to student success. Offering a range of undergraduate programs, ECSU is a great choice for those looking for quality education at an affordable price.

  • Elizabeth City State University, an HBCU, stands out for its unique programs, including the only undergraduate aviation degree program in the state, also with tuition rates of $1,000/$5,000.

2. Fayetteville State University

Another gem within the University of North Carolina system, Fayetteville State University prides itself on accessibility. It provides a wide array of programs in a supportive environment, ensuring that higher education is within reach for all.

  • Fayetteville State University, another HBCU, has tuition fees of $2,982 for in-state and $14,590 for out-of-state students.

3. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Situated in Pembroke, UNCP merges a rich cultural heritage with affordable education. Known for its diverse student body, the university offers various programs at competitive tuition rates.

  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers a vibrant, diverse community with tuition fees for in-state and out-of-state students at $1,000 and $5,000, respectively.

4. Winston-Salem State University

This public university located in Winston-Salem is renowned for its vibrant campus life and academic excellence. WSSU makes higher education attainable without compromising on quality.

  • Winston-Salem State University focuses on producing servant leaders and offers tuition of $3,401/$13,648.

5. North Carolina Central University

In the heart of Durham, NCCU stands as a beacon of opportunity, offering affordable tuition rates alongside a strong emphasis on research and community service.

  • North Carolina Central University, located in Durham, charges $3,728/$16,435 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.

6. Western Carolina University

Nestled in Cullowhee, WCU provides an idyllic setting for learning. With a focus on student success, the university offers low tuition fees without skimping on educational quality.

  • Western Carolina University is known for its outdoor recreation and experiential learning opportunities, with the same tuition rates as UNC Pembroke.

7. University of North Carolina at Asheville

UNCA combines the charm of a small college with the opportunities of a large university. Known for its liberal arts programs, it offers an affordable path to a well-rounded education.

  • University of North Carolina at Asheville provides a liberal arts education at $4,122/$21,470 for in-state and out-of-state tuition, respectively.

8. Appalachian State University

Located in Boone, Appalachian State is recognized for its commitment to sustainability and community engagement. It offers competitive tuition rates, making it a great option for eco-conscious students.

  • Appalachian State University is known for its sustainability resources and outdoor activities, with tuition rates of $4,242/$19,049.

9. East Carolina University

In Greenville, ECU stands as a hub for innovation and student success. Offering a broad range of programs at affordable rates, it’s a top choice for students seeking a comprehensive education.

  • East Carolina University (ECU) is recognized for its comprehensive health sciences programs and vibrant campus life, with tuition rates of $7,361 for in-state students and $23,638 for out-of-state students​.

10. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Rounding out the list, UNCG in Greensboro offers an inclusive community and diverse academic options at cost-effective rates, proving that quality education can be accessible to all.

  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) stands out for its commitment to academic excellence and community engagement, with in-state tuition rates at $7,593 and out-of-state rates at $23,339.

11. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Nestled in the bustling city of Charlotte, UNC Charlotte stands as a beacon of higher education in the region. With a strong focus on research, innovation, and community engagement, this university offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Its commitment to providing affordable education without sacrificing quality makes it an attractive option for students from various backgrounds.

  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a business program in the banking hub of the U.S. with tuition of $3,812/$17,246.

12. North Carolina A&T State University

Located in Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University is a leading historically black university (HBCU) known for its excellence in STEM fields, business, and the arts. Offering competitive tuition rates, N.C. A&T is dedicated to making higher education accessible to everyone, emphasizing hands-on research, internships, and co-op opportunities. The university's vibrant campus life and strong sense of community further enrich the student experience, making it a top choice for those seeking an affordable, quality education.

  • NC A&T State University, the largest HBCU in the nation, has tuition fees of $3,540/$17,050.

Choosing the right college is a significant decision that goes beyond tuition costs. However, understanding your options in North Carolina can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your financial situation and academic aspirations. As you explore these affordable institutions, consider factors such as programs offered, campus culture, and available financial aid to find the best fit for your educational journey.

Remember, the journey to finding the perfect college for you is as much about the destination as it is about the path you take to get there. Affordable tuition is just the beginning.


For a more current and detailed breakdown of tuition fees, including potential changes due to state policy adjustments or institutional updates, prospective students should consult the colleges' official websites or contact their admissions offices directly.

Track your way to college in one place

The process of applying to college is hard.
It shouldn't be.
You're now on the waiting list and will be among the first to enjoy the CollegeHound app!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Young man wearing a graduates mortar board cap, smiling and making the OK sign while laying on top of a light bulb.