The most & least expensive colleges in every state

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When choosing a college, the advertised tuition prices might discourage some students from exploring certain schools altogether. But students and families should be aware that when acceptances and financial aid packages arrive, cost of attendance could be well below the tuition listed on a college’s website.

As of the 2018-2019 school year, just 14% of first-time, four-year college undergraduates didn’t receive some form of financial aid, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Given the cost of college may vary by student, Student Loan Hero researchers set out to compare the net prices — what students are actually paying, on average, to attend a school, including tuition, fees and supplies, minus financial aid, scholarships and grants — at institutions across the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 1,800 colleges and universities enrolling at least 1,000 students and granting mainly bachelor’s degrees. Analysts then found the most and least expensive public and private colleges by net price in each state.

The average net price among the most expensive private colleges is 76% higher than that of the most expensive public schools. The priciest private schools in each state have an average net price of $33,402 a year, compared with $18,991 a year for the most costly public colleges.Key findings

  • Attending those pricey private colleges may lead to some long-term earning gains. For those with jobs 10 years after enrolling, median annual earnings average $49,902 at the priciest private schools, versus $47,202 at the most costly public colleges.
  • There are significant ranges in the net prices for the most and least expensive private colleges in each state. Across the states, the difference between the most and least expensive private colleges averages $17,119. New York has the highest disparity — $40,261 — between Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute ($45,571) and Uta Mesivta of Kiryas Joel ($5,310).
  • Public colleges and universities vary widely in net price — $8,405, on average — but not nearly as much as private institutions. California features the biggest gap — $18,827 — between California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo ($21,595), and California State University, Los Angeles ($2,768).

Private vs. public colleges: What’s the difference?

Students have different priorities when choosing a college, from curriculum to location to social life. Cost often plays a role in that decision because attending college is generally expensive. Private colleges and public institutions differ for many reasons, and cost is one of them.

While any student’s net price may be more at a public school than at a private school, private colleges tend to be more expensive. Among the most expensive private colleges from each state, students pay an average of $33,402 a year, 76% higher than the average net price at the most costly public schools of $18,991.

Despite the disparity in net prices, the average median debt for students who completed their degree across the ranked colleges doesn’t differ much between public and private. Across the most expensive public colleges, students graduate with a median debt of $23,205. That number rises to just $23,768 for private school grads.

Are pricey private schools a worthy investment?

With private schools generally costing more than public colleges, some might assume students and their families would take on more debt to attend those more expensive institutions. However, students at private colleges receive much more institutional aid than public school attendees, according to NCES data. Families who earn too much to qualify for aid may lean toward private schools in the hope of a better return on investment.

A disparity does occur when looking at incomes for college grads years after leaving school. Grads from the most expensive public schools earn a median salary of $47,202 a decade after enrollment. Private school grads earn a median $49,902 at the same 10-year milestone — a 7% increase over their public school peers.

Does that mean private colleges are typically a better investment even if they’re more expensive? Not necessarily. In fact, data from a 2016 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study shows adults born into higher household incomes are likely to remain in the higher income brackets. Those from lower-earning households might surpass their parents in income but will likely stay close to their original household’s income bracket.

Students from families able to attend more expensive colleges may be more likely to outearn students who can’t afford pricier colleges, regardless of where they earn their degrees. Any student’s earning potential can grow or shrink based on their field of study and the job market when they graduate. Students should consider their own priorities and what each institution offers academically, along with the financial aspect.

Student Loan Hero senior writer Andrew Pentis says attending a more expensive college could be worth it for some students — especially if they can get that education at a discount.

“Attending a discounted but still higher-priced institution could be value-adding if the student believes it will help them pursue the career and wages they desire,” Pentis says. “Another student, though, might opt for the lowest-cost school, casting value aside, believing that their chosen field doesn’t require a diploma or the connections gained from attending a more glamorous school.”

It pays to compare

Institutional financial aid, scholarships and grants could make even the most expensive colleges affordable depending on an individual’s situation. Students deciding between colleges should diligently compare their cost of attendance at each of their options to get a better sense of the cost of their education. Student Loan Hero offers a financial aid award calculator to help students do the math.

COMPARE YOUR FINANCIAL AID AWARDS

Understanding the range in net prices may help some students narrow down their college choices. Across the private colleges researchers analyzed, there’s a $17,119 difference in the average net prices of the most expensive and least expensive schools in each state with eligible institutions.

New York features the biggest difference in cost between its most and least expensive private schools. Pratt Institute in Brooklyn reports a net price of $45,571, compared with Uta Mesivta of Kiryas Joel at a net price of just $5,310 — a difference of $40,261.

For public schools, the average difference is a less notable $8,405 between the most and least expensive colleges in each state. Regardless, this is a significant amount for plenty of families.

The biggest disparity occurs in California, where California State University, Los Angeles, has a net price of just $2,768, compared to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, which costs students $21,595 a year. This equates to a difference of $18,827.

Investing in your future

No matter what you end up paying for college, that net price is an investment, and individuals should consider how much they could gain or lose in potential earnings based on what they study and where. There are many ways to get a good education without throwing money at a big-name school that might not be the best learning environment for you.

Consider these tips when thinking about where to go to college:

  • Look at the big picture. While plenty of students don’t know what they want to do for a career as they enter college, it can be helpful to have an idea so you can explore potential salaries and make a college decision that makes sense. “If one school on your college list is known for its excellence in a unique degree program piques your interest, it could be worth paying a bit more to attend,” Pentis says.
  • Use student loans to your advantage. Students and families who need to take out student loans to pay for college should also shop around to find ones that fit their needs. While general advice favors federal student loans for benefits like forgiveness and flexible repayment options, private loans can be advantageous for folks with good credit history or who don’t qualify for federal loans. “Unlike one-size-fits-all federal loans, private loans are also credit-based, making them a potential money-saver for creditworthy borrowers and their cosigners,” Pentis says. “Just be sure that lower private loan APR is worth yielding all those awesome, government-exclusive safeguards that are specific to federal loans.”
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Your student loan rates might be pretty nonnegotiable, especially if they’re federally regulated. But your financial aid package can change if you demonstrate greater need, or simply ask for more. If you receive a financial aid award letter and still owe more than you can afford, it may be worth it to appeal.

Full list: The most and least expensive colleges in each state

Note: The median debt listed for each school refers to the amount students have in loans upon graduating. Median earnings consider annual salaries of employed students 10 years after enrollment.

The District of Columbia and Wyoming have the same schools listed as both the most and least expensive public college due to fewer institutions meeting criteria or providing data. The same is the case for private colleges in Arizona, Delaware, Montana and North Dakota. Lastly, Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming were excluded from the private school listings for not having qualifying institutions.

Alabama

Least expensive public school: Alabama State University (Montgomery)

    • Net price: $13,650
    • Median debt: $32,000
    • Median earnings: $27,700
    • Enrollment: 3,750
  • Least expensive private school: Miles College (Fairfield)
    • Net price: $14,303
    • Median debt: $30,444
    • Median earnings: $26,500
    • Enrollment: 1,452
  • Most expensive public school: Auburn University
    • Net price: $24,104
    • Median debt: $21,281
    • Median earnings: $48,800
    • Enrollment: 24,209
  • Most expensive private school: Tuskegee University
    • Net price: $34,575
    • Median debt: $29,090
    • Median earnings: $35,500
    • Enrollment: 2,394

Alaska

  • Least expensive public school: University of Alaska Fairbanks
    • Net price: $10,333
    • Median debt: $19,500
    • Median earnings: $38,700
    • Enrollment: 4,410
  • Least expensive private school: N/A
  • Most expensive public school: University of Alaska Anchorage
    • Net price: $12,995
    • Median debt: $20,500
    • Median earnings: $45,400
    • Enrollment: 9,257
  • Most expensive private school: N/A

Arizona

  • Least expensive public school: Arizona State University West campus (Glendale)
    • Net price: $8,101
    • Median debt: $20,278
    • Median earnings: $47,700
    • Enrollment: 4,540
  • Least expensive private school: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
    • Net price: $35,396
    • Median debt: $24,996
    • Median earnings: $66,200
    • Enrollment: 2,885
  • Most expensive public school: University of Arizona (Tucson)
    • Net price: $15,016
    • Median debt: $20,171
    • Median earnings: $47,300
    • Enrollment: 33,715
  • Most expensive private school: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

Arkansas

  • Least expensive public school: University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
    • Net price: $9,637
    • Median debt: $17,550
    • Median earnings: $31,000
    • Enrollment: 4,883
  • Least expensive private school: Hendrix College (Conway)
    • Net price: $19,295
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $39,700
    • Enrollment: 1,104
  • Most expensive public school: University of Arkansas (Fayetteville)
    • Net price: $16,381
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $44,900
    • Enrollment: 22,766
  • Most expensive private school: John Brown University (Siloam Springs)
    • Net price: $21,963
    • Median debt: $22,688
    • Median earnings: $45,800
    • Enrollment: 1,447

California

  • Least expensive public school: California State University, Los Angeles
    • Net price: $2,768
    • Median debt: $13,750
    • Median earnings: $46,100
    • Enrollment: 22,743
  • Least expensive private school: Stanford University
    • Net price: $11,496
    • Median debt: $11,750
    • Median earnings: $94,000
    • Enrollment: 6,994
  • Most expensive public school: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
    • Net price: $21,595
    • Median debt: $19,501
    • Median earnings: $66,900
    • Enrollment: 20,453
  • Most expensive private school: California Institute of the Arts (Valencia)
    • Net price: $50,412
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $37,900
    • Enrollment: 1,015

Colorado

  • Least expensive public school: Adams State University (Alamosa)
    • Net price: $14,064
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $35,200
    • Enrollment: 1,727
  • Least expensive private school: Colorado Christian University (Lakewood)
    • Net price: $25,268
    • Median debt: $28,001
    • Median earnings: $39,300
    • Enrollment: 4,671
  • Most expensive public school: Colorado School of Mines (Golden)
    • Net price: $26,750
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $84,900
    • Enrollment: 5,103
  • Most expensive private school: University of Denver
    • Net price: $32,361
    • Median debt: $20,833
    • Median earnings: $56,500
    • Enrollment: 5,755

Connecticut

  • Least expensive public school: University of Connecticut Hartford
    • Net price: $9,842
    • Median debt: $22,000
    • Median earnings: N/A
    • Enrollment: 1,531
  • Least expensive private school: Yale University (New Haven)
    • Net price: $17,549
    • Median debt: $13,060
    • Median earnings: $83,200
    • Enrollment: 6,089
  • Most expensive public school: University of Connecticut (Storrs)
    • Net price: $22,012
    • Median debt: $22,000
    • Median earnings: $58,400
    • Enrollment: 18,585
  • Most expensive private school: Sacred Heart University (Fairfield)
    • Net price: $41,191
    • Median debt: $25,250
    • Median earnings: $56,000
    • Enrollment: 6,066

Delaware

  • Least expensive public school: Delaware State University (Dover)
    • Net price: $12,995
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $35,800
    • Enrollment: 3,932
  • Least expensive private school: Wilmington University (New Castle)
    • Net price: $14,683
    • Median debt: $21,000
    • Median earnings: $42,500
    • Enrollment: 8,472
  • Most expensive public school: University of Delaware (Newark)
    • Net price: $17,220
    • Median debt: $24,660
    • Median earnings: $57,000
    • Enrollment: 19,047
  • Most expensive private school: Wilmington University

District of Columbia

  • Least expensive public school: University of the District of Columbia
    • Net price: $15,894
    • Median debt: $25,889
    • Median earnings: $35,200
    • Enrollment: 3,603
  • Least expensive private school: Trinity Washington University
    • Net price: $14,396
    • Median debt: $29,545
    • Median earnings: $38,800
    • Enrollment: 1,344
  • Most expensive public school: University of the District of Columbia
  • Most expensive private school: American University
    • Net price: $43,451
    • Median debt: $23,999
    • Median earnings: $61,000
    • Enrollment: 7,659

Florida

  • Least expensive public school: University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee (Sarasota)
    • Net price: $2,082
    • Median debt: $18,750
    • Median earnings: $43,500
    • Enrollment: 1,695
  • Least expensive private school: Ave Maria University
    • Net price: $15,527
    • Median debt: $22,149
    • Median earnings: $32,800
    • Enrollment: 1,093
  • Most expensive public school: Florida A&M University (Tallahassee)
    • Net price: $15,060
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $37,600
    • Enrollment: 7,514
  • Most expensive private school: Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota)
    • Net price: $49,649
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $33,200
    • Enrollment: 1,653

Georgia

  • Least expensive public school: Dalton State College
    • Net price: $6,543
    • Median debt: $13,750
    • Median earnings: $32,300
    • Enrollment: 4,553
  • Least expensive private school: Point University (West Point)
    • Net price: $16,187
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $32,500
    • Enrollment: 1,074
  • Most expensive public school: Georgia College & State University (Milledgeville)
    • Net price: $19,691
    • Median debt: $22,667
    • Median earnings: $40,500
    • Enrollment: 5,764
  • Most expensive private school: Spelman College (Atlanta)
    • Net price: $43,843
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $47,000
    • Enrollment: 2,118

Hawaii

  • Least expensive public school: University of Hawaii-West Oahu (Kapolei)
    • Net price: $13,331
    • Median debt: $17,500
    • Median earnings: $38,600
    • Enrollment: 2,636
  • Least expensive private school: Brigham Young University-Hawaii (Laie)
    • Net price: $14,051
    • Median debt: $9,453
    • Median earnings: $42,200
    • Enrollment: 2,974
  • Most expensive public school: University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu)
    • Net price: $15,030
    • Median debt: $19,084
    • Median earnings: $45,800
    • Enrollment: 12,255
  • Most expensive private school: Hawaii Pacific University (Honolulu)
    • Net price: $27,508
    • Median debt: $23,688
    • Median earnings: $49,900
    • Enrollment: 2,765

Idaho

  • Least expensive public school: Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston)
    • Net price: $11,046
    • Median debt: ​​$18,684
    • Median earnings: $34,600
    • Enrollment: 2,677
  • Least expensive private school: Brigham Young University-Idaho (Rexburg)
    • Net price: $7,167
    • Median debt: $13,179
    • Median earnings: $42,700
    • Enrollment: 38,672
  • Most expensive public school: Idaho State University (Pocatello)
    • Net price: $16,810
    • Median debt: $22,600
    • Median earnings: $35,700
    • Enrollment: 7,267
  • Most expensive private school: The College of Idaho (Caldwell)
    • Net price: $21,005
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $40,000
    • Enrollment: 1,072

Illinois

  • Least expensive public school: Chicago State University
    • Net price: $11,733
    • Median debt: $32,000
    • Median earnings: $33,800
    • Enrollment: 2,045
  • Least expensive private school: Saint Xavier University (Chicago)
    • Net price: $14,528
    • Median debt: $24,091
    • Median earnings: $48,200
    • Enrollment: 2,943
  • Most expensive public school: Illinois State University (Normal)
    • Net price: $20,895
    • Median debt: $19,500
    • Median earnings: $47,100
    • Enrollment: 18,199
  • Most expensive private school: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
    • Net price: $44,815
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $33,500
    • Enrollment: 2,983

Indiana

  • Least expensive public school: Indiana University East (Richmond)
    • Net price: $7,722
    • Median debt: $18,519
    • Median earnings: $31,500
    • Enrollment: 3,135
  • Least expensive private school: Indiana Institute of Technology-College of Professional Studies (Fort Wayne)
    • Net price: $16,269
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: N/A
    • Enrollment: 3,905
  • Most expensive public school: Ball State University (Muncie)
    • Net price: $15,147
    • Median debt: $23,500
    • Median earnings: $41,100
    • Enrollment: 15,610
  • Most expensive private school: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute)
    • Net price: $39,076
    • Median debt: ​​$26,000
    • Median earnings: $80,900
    • Enrollment: 1,992

Iowa

  • Least expensive public school: Iowa State University (Ames)
    • Net price: $15,496
    • Median debt: $22,635
    • Median earnings: $50,700
    • Enrollment: 27,930
  • Least expensive private school: Buena Vista University (Storm Lake)
    • Net price: $17,544
    • Median debt: $24,947
    • Median earnings: $40,000
    • Enrollment: 1,414
  • Most expensive public school: University of Iowa (Iowa City)
    • Net price: $19,145
    • Median debt: $22,500
    • Median earnings: $51,900
    • Enrollment: 22,920
  • Most expensive private school: Drake University (Des Moines)
    • Net price: $29,432
    • Median debt: $23,375
    • Median earnings: $58,300
    • Enrollment: 2,902

Kansas

  • Least expensive public school: Fort Hays State University
    • Net price: $12,053
    • Median debt: $20,125
    • Median earnings: $38,200
    • Enrollment: 12,828
  • Least expensive private school: Friends University (Wichita)
    • Net price: $20,686
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $41,800
    • Enrollment: 1,032
  • Most expensive public school: University of Kansas (Lawrence)
    • Net price: $18,918
    • Median debt: $21,375
    • Median earnings: $48,800
    • Enrollment: 19,003
  • Most expensive private school: MidAmerica Nazarene University (Olathe)
    • Net price: $26,222
    • Median debt: $15,625
    • Median earnings: $42,900
    • Enrollment: 1,115

Kentucky

  • Least expensive public school: Kentucky State University (Frankfort)
    • Net price: $7,076
    • Median debt: $28,504
    • Median earnings: $28,700
    • Enrollment: 1,419
  • Least expensive private school: Berea College
    • Net price: $5,184
    • Median debt: $4,833
    • Median earnings: $33,700
    • Enrollment: 1,652
  • Most expensive public school: University of Kentucky (Lexington)
    • Net price: $17,127
    • Median debt: $23,200
    • Median earnings: $45,100
    • Enrollment: 21,864
  • Most expensive private school: Asbury University (Wilmore)
    • Net price: $27,631
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $34,900
    • Enrollment: 1,584

Louisiana

  • Least expensive public school: Southern University at New Orleans
    • Net price: $7,632
    • Median debt: $31,031
    • Median earnings: $28,600
    • Enrollment: 1,690
  • Least expensive private school: Dillard University (New Orleans)
    • Net price: $17,128
    • Median debt: $32,000
    • Median earnings: $35,400
    • Enrollment: 1,215
  • Most expensive public school: Grambling State University
    • Net price: $18,516
    • Median debt: $37,192
    • Median earnings: $28,100
    • Enrollment: 4,153
  • Most expensive private school: Tulane University (New Orleans)
    • Net price: $37,841
    • Median debt: $21,370
    • Median earnings: $61,700
    • Enrollment: 7,980

Maine

  • Least expensive public school: University of Maine at Augusta
    • Net price: $10,631
    • Median debt: $24,038
    • Median earnings: $27,700
    • Enrollment: 3,227
  • Least expensive private school: Colby College (Waterville)
    • Net price: $17,777
    • Median debt: $20,070
    • Median earnings: $58,100
    • Enrollment: 2,003
  • Most expensive public school: University of Maine (Orono)
    • Net price: $17,558
    • Median debt: $25,500
    • Median earnings: $42,500
    • Enrollment: 8,832
  • Most expensive private school: University of New England (Portland)
    • Net price: $34,118
    • Median debt: $25,989
    • Median earnings: $46,300
    • Enrollment: 2,449

Maryland

  • Least expensive public school: Coppin State University (Baltimore)
    • Net price: $11,686
    • Median debt: $24,076
    • Median earnings: $38,100
    • Enrollment: 2,344
  • Least expensive private school: McDaniel College (Westminster)
    • Net price: $18,182
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $49,700
    • Enrollment: 1,668
  • Most expensive public school: University of Baltimore
    • Net price: $21,183
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $58,000
    • Enrollment: 2,038
  • Most expensive private school: Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore)
    • Net price: $38,921
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $37,300
    • Enrollment: 1,740

Massachusetts

  • Least expensive public school: Fitchburg State University
    • Net price: $16,001
    • Median debt: $24,670
    • Median earnings: $45,700
    • Enrollment: 3,818
  • Least expensive private school: Harvard University (Cambridge)
    • Net price: $15,386
    • Median debt: $13,750
    • Median earnings: $89,700
    • Enrollment: 7,547
  • Most expensive public school: Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston)
    • Net price: $24,043
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $36,200
    • Enrollment: 1,846
  • Most expensive private school: Berklee College of Music (Boston)
    • Net price: $49,514
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $30,300
    • Enrollment: 6,338

Michigan

  • Least expensive public school: University of Michigan-Dearborn
    • Net price: $11,473
    • Median debt: $23,750
    • Median earnings: $48,600
    • Enrollment: 6,728
  • Least expensive private school: Baker College (Owosso)
    • Net price: $15,049
    • Median debt: $24,500
    • Median earnings: $27,200
    • Enrollment: 6,343
  • Most expensive public school: Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo)
    • Net price: $19,433
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $45,000
    • Enrollment: 16,801
  • Most expensive private school: College for Creative Studies (Detroit)
    • Net price: $37,745
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $44,100
    • Enrollment: 1,414

Minnesota

  • Least expensive public school: University of Minnesota Crookston
    • Net price: $10,952
    • Median debt: $19,000
    • Median earnings: $44,800
    • Enrollment: 1,839
  • Least expensive private school: Concordia University, St. Paul
    • Net price: $16,245
    • Median debt: $20,500
    • Median earnings: $49,200
    • Enrollment: 2,745
  • Most expensive public school: University of Minnesota Twin Cities (Minneapolis)
    • Net price: $17,740
    • Median debt: $19,500
    • Median earnings: $51,900
    • Enrollment: 31,367
  • Most expensive private school: Carleton College (Northfield)
    • Net price: $31,133
    • Median debt: $15,538
    • Median earnings: $54,200
    • Enrollment: 2,065

Mississippi

  • Least expensive public school: Mississippi University for Women (Columbus)
    • Net price: $12,054
    • Median debt: $15,000
    • Median earnings: $34,100
    • Enrollment: 2,234
  • Least expensive private school: William Carey University (Hattiesburg)
    • Net price: $13,000
    • Median debt: $20,832
    • Median earnings: $34,700
    • Enrollment: 2,063
  • Most expensive public school: Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena)
    • Net price: $16,394
    • Median debt: $31,000
    • Median earnings: $23,200
    • Enrollment: 1,546
  • Most expensive private school: Belhaven University (Jackson)
    • Net price: $17,439
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $37,300
    • Enrollment: 2,240

Missouri

  • Least expensive public school: University of Missouri-St. Louis
    • Net price: $9,435
    • Median debt: $20,838
    • Median earnings: $42,900
    • Enrollment: 6,703
  • Least expensive private school: College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout)
    • Net price: $11,349
    • Median debt: N/A
    • Median earnings: $32,500
    • Enrollment: 1,525
  • Most expensive public school: Missouri State University-Springfield
    • Net price: $16,725
    • Median debt: $22,522
    • Median earnings: $39,300
    • Enrollment: 15,868
  • Most expensive private school: Maryville University (St. Louis)
    • Net price: $29,064
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $47,200
    • Enrollment: 4,351

Montana

  • Least expensive public school: Montana State University Billings
    • Net price: $13,844
    • Median debt: $18,001
    • Median earnings: $34,600
    • Enrollment: 3,211
  • Least expensive private school: Carroll College (Helena)
    • Net price: $23,726
    • Median debt: $25,221
    • Median earnings: $45,900
    • Enrollment: 1,165
  • Most expensive public school: Montana State University (Bozeman)
    • Net price: $19,202
    • Median debt: $23,374
    • Median earnings: $43,200
    • Enrollment: 14,402
  • Most expensive private school: Carroll College (Helena)

Nebraska

  • Least expensive public school: Wayne State College
    • Net price: $13,765
    • Median debt: $20,118
    • Median earnings: $36,100
    • Enrollment: 2,829
  • Least expensive private school: Bellevue University
    • Net price: $15,616
    • Median debt: $21,612
    • Median earnings: $53,600
    • Enrollment: 8,204
  • Most expensive public school: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    • Net price: $17,208
    • Median debt: $21,250
    • Median earnings: $46,400
    • Enrollment: 20,252
  • Most expensive private school: Creighton University (Omaha)
    • Net price: $31,400
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $59,700
    • Enrollment: 4,431

Nevada

  • Least expensive public school: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    • Net price: $11,424
    • Median debt: $18,750
    • Median earnings: $45,000
    • Enrollment: 25,236
  • Least expensive private school: N/A
  • Most expensive public school: University of Nevada-Reno
    • Net price: $15,081
    • Median debt: $19,500
    • Median earnings: $47,000
    • Enrollment: 16,917
  • Most expensive private school: N/A

New Hampshire

  • Least expensive public school: Granite State College (Concord)
    • Net price: $12,507
    • Median debt: $15,625
    • Median earnings: $35,400
    • Enrollment: 1,627
  • Least expensive private school: Rivier University (Nashua)
    • Net price: $25,196
    • Median debt: $25,718
    • Median earnings: $45,400
    • Enrollment: 1,349
  • Most expensive public school: University of New Hampshire Main Campus (Durham)
    • Net price: $24,067
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $51,400
    • Enrollment: 12,101
  • Most expensive private school: Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester)
    • Net price: $41,095
    • Median debt: $19,920
    • Median earnings: $45,400
    • Enrollment: 90,196

New Jersey

  • Least expensive public school: Rutgers University-Camden
    • Net price: $13,660
    • Median debt: $21,769
    • Median earnings: $57,900
    • Enrollment: 5,626
  • Least expensive private school: Princeton University
    • Net price: $11,317
    • Median debt: $10,750
    • Median earnings: $74,700
    • Enrollment: 5,308
  • Most expensive public school: The College of New Jersey (Ewing Township)
    • Net price: $27,541
    • Median debt: $23,500
    • Median earnings: $58,500
    • Enrollment: 6,747
  • Most expensive private school: Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken)
    • Net price: $37,588
    • Median debt: $26,950
    • Median earnings: $89,200
    • Enrollment: 3,641

New Mexico

  • Least expensive public school: New Mexico State University (Las Cruces)
    • Net price: $8,659
    • Median debt: $19,123
    • Median earnings: $34,600
    • Enrollment: 11,153
  • Least expensive private school: N/A
  • Most expensive public school: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro)
    • Net price: $14,595
    • Median debt: $19,211
    • Median earnings: $50,000
    • Enrollment: 1,241
  • Most expensive private school: N/A

New York

  • Least expensive public school: CUNY Lehman College (Bronx)
    • Net price: $1,814
    • Median debt: $10,830
    • Median earnings: $43,100
    • Enrollment: 11,797
  • Least expensive private school: Uta Mesivta of Kiryas Joel
    • Net price: $5,310
    • Median debt: N/A
    • Median earnings: $20,300
    • Enrollment: 2,016
  • Most expensive public school: SUNY Maritime College (Bronx)
    • Net price: $20,616
    • Median debt: $24,562
    • Median earnings: $82,800
    • Enrollment: 1,510
  • Most expensive private school: Pratt Institute (Brooklyn)
    • Net price: ​​$45,571
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $43,400
    • Enrollment: 3,638

North Carolina

  • Least expensive public school: Elizabeth City State University
    • Net price: $2,350
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $30,400
    • Enrollment: 1,623
  • Least expensive private school: North Carolina Wesleyan College (Rocky Mount)
    • Net price: $14,023
    • Median debt: $21,618
    • Median earnings: $38,600
    • Enrollment: 1,822
  • Most expensive public school: University of North Carolina Wilmington
    • Net price: $19,055
    • Median debt: $20,175
    • Median earnings: $41,600
    • Enrollment: 14,421
  • Most expensive private school: High Point University
    • Net price: $37,255
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $39,000
    • Enrollment: 4,561

North Dakota

  • Least expensive public school: Dickinson State University
    • Net price: $10,855
    • Median debt: $18,500
    • Median earnings: $41,700
    • Enrollment: 1,129
  • Least expensive private school: University of Mary (Bismarck)
    • Net price: $17,410
    • Median debt: $22,500
    • Median earnings: $48,000
    • Enrollment: 2,194
  • Most expensive public school: North Dakota State University-Main Campus (Fargo)
    • Net price: $16,584
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $48,200
    • Enrollment: 10,579
  • Most expensive private school: University of Mary

Ohio

  • Least expensive public school: Central State University (Wilberforce)
    • Net price: $10,451
    • Median debt: $31,000
    • Median earnings: $26,100
    • Enrollment: 1,999
  • Least expensive private school: Franklin University (Columbus)
    • Net price: $12,895
    • Median debt: $22,500
    • Median earnings: $48,500
    • Enrollment: 3,855
  • Most expensive public school: Miami University-Oxford
    • Net price: $24,323
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $47,100
    • Enrollment: 17,044
  • Most expensive private school: Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland)
    • Net price: $35,428
    • Median debt: $24,192
    • Median earnings: $74,600
    • Enrollment: 5,269

Oklahoma

  • Least expensive public school: Cameron University (Lawton)
    • Net price: $7,952
    • Median debt: ​​$22,400
    • Median earnings: $34,300
    • Enrollment: 3,466
  • Least expensive private school: Southern Nazarene University (Bethany)
    • Net price: $18,147
    • Median debt: $21,105
    • Median earnings: $47,600
    • Enrollment: 1,616
  • Most expensive public school: University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
    • Net price: $21,145
    • Median debt: $21,000
    • Median earnings: $51,100
    • Enrollment: 21,329
  • Most expensive private school: Oklahoma City University
    • Net price: $22,306
    • Median debt: $21,486
    • Median earnings: $42,800
    • Enrollment: 1,583

Oregon

  • Least expensive public school: Southern Oregon University (Ashland)
    • Net price: $10,386
    • Median debt: $21,000
    • Median earnings: $39,000
    • Enrollment: 3,787
  • Least expensive private school: Linfield University-McMinnville Campus
    • Net price: $27,951
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $55,200
    • Enrollment: 1,383
  • Most expensive public school: Oregon State University (Corvallis)
    • Net price: $20,016
    • Median debt: $22,286
    • Median earnings: $49,600
    • Enrollment: 25,339
  • Most expensive private school: University of Portland
    • Net price: $36,464
    • Median debt: $24,390
    • Median earnings: $58,800
    • Enrollment: ​​3,773

Pennsylvania

  • Least expensive public school: Edinboro University
    • Net price: $16,833
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $35,400
    • Enrollment: 3,244
  • Least expensive private school: Peirce College (Philadelphia)
    • Net price: $10,128
    • Median debt: $32,150
    • Median earnings: $46,500
    • Enrollment: ​​1,084
  • Most expensive public school: University of Pittsburgh
    • Net price: $27,938
    • Median debt: $25,125
    • Median earnings: $53,900
    • Enrollment: 19,017
  • Most expensive private school: Bucknell University (Lewisburg)
    • Net price: $42,502
    • Median debt: $26,565
    • Median earnings: $70,800
    • Enrollment: 3,608

Rhode Island

  • Least expensive public school: Rhode Island College (Providence)
    • Net price: $10,922
    • Median debt: $21,363
    • Median earnings: $41,400
    • Enrollment: 6,293
  • Least expensive private school: Johnson & Wales University (Providence)
    • Net price: $18,499
    • Median debt: $25,125
    • Median earnings: $38,800
    • Enrollment: 1,065
  • Most expensive public school: University of Rhode Island (South Kingstown)
    • Net price: $20,607
    • Median debt: $22,602
    • Median earnings: $52,900
    • Enrollment: 13,677
  • Most expensive private school: Rhode Island School of Design (Providence)
    • Net price: $43,982
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $51,100
    • Enrollment: 2,009

South Carolina

  • Least expensive public school: Francis Marion University (Florence)
    • Net price: $12,742
    • Median debt: $28,014
    • Median earnings: $33,100
    • Enrollment: 3,104
  • Least expensive private school: Bob Jones University (Greenville)
    • Net price: $12,923
    • Median debt: $19,225
    • Median earnings: N/A
    • Enrollment: 2,415
  • Most expensive public school: South Carolina State University (Orangeburg)
    • Net price: $20,795
    • Median debt: $31,000
    • Median earnings: $29,800
    • Enrollment: 2,122
  • Most expensive private school: Furman University (Greenville)
    • Net price: $30,861
    • Median debt: $24,981
    • Median earnings: $51,200
    • Enrollment: 2,671

South Dakota

  • Least expensive public school: Northern State University (Aberdeen)
    • Net price: $15,851
    • Median debt: $22,250
    • Median earnings: $35,300
    • Enrollment: 1,383
  • Least expensive private school: University of Sioux Falls
    • Net price: $19,893
    • Median debt: $23,250
    • Median earnings: $40,100
    • Enrollment: 1,349
  • Most expensive public school: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (Rapid City)
    • Net price: $19,815
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $56,500
    • Enrollment: 2,125
  • Most expensive private school: Augustana University (Sioux Falls)
    • Net price: $24,072
    • Median debt: $26,607
    • Median earnings: $43,700
    • Enrollment: 1,765

Tennessee

  • Least expensive public school: The University of Tennessee at Martin
    • Net price: $10,955
    • Median debt: $22,500
    • Median earnings: ​​$36,200
    • Enrollment: 5,227
  • Least expensive private school: Christian Brothers University (Memphis)
    • Net price: $11,900
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $44,200
    • Enrollment: 1,444
  • Most expensive public school: The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
    • Net price: $18,825
    • Median debt: $20,500
    • Median earnings: $45,100
    • Enrollment: 23,152
  • Most expensive private school: Belmont University (Nashville)
    • Net price: $35,548
    • Median debt: $21,332
    • Median earnings: $44,100
    • Enrollment: 6,768

Texas

  • Least expensive public school: Texas A&M International University (Laredo)
    • Net price: $3,074
    • Median debt: $14,789
    • Median earnings: $45,800
    • Enrollment: 7,189
  • Least expensive private school: Huston-Tillotson University (Austin)
    • Net price: $16,775
    • Median debt: $28,456
    • Median earnings: $30,800
    • Enrollment: 1,112
  • Most expensive public school: Texas Southern University (Houston)
    • Net price: $19,430
    • Median debt: $29,531
    • Median earnings: $31,300
    • Enrollment: 7,092
  • Most expensive private school: Texas Christian University (Fort Worth)
    • Net price: $36,811
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $52,800
    • Enrollment: 9,442

Utah

  • Least expensive public school: Utah Valley University (Orem)
    • Net price: $9,159
    • Median debt: $15,500
    • Median earnings: $43,800
    • Enrollment: 28,314
  • Least expensive private school: Western Governors University (Millcreek)
    • Net price: $9,805
    • Median debt: $11,525
    • Median earnings: $41,900
    • Enrollment: 98,630
  • Most expensive public school: University of Utah (Salt Lake City)
    • Net price: $14,773
    • Median debt: $18,088
    • Median earnings: $53,000
    • Enrollment: 23,432
  • Most expensive private school: Brigham Young University (Provo)
    • Net price: $13,322
    • Median debt: $12,000
    • Median earnings: $59,700
    • Enrollment: 31,292

Vermont

  • Least expensive public school: Northern Vermont University (Johnson)
    • Net price: $15,749
    • Median debt: $21,499
    • Median earnings: $33,200
    • Enrollment: 1,897
  • Least expensive private school: Norwich University (Northfield)
    • Net price: $24,701
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $53,700
    • Enrollment: 3,196
  • Most expensive public school: University of Vermont (Burlington)
    • Net price: $18,982
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $47,300
    • Enrollment: 10,700
  • Most expensive private school: Champlain College (Burlington)
    • Net price: $33,561
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $45,400
    • Enrollment: 3,605

Virginia

  • Least expensive public school: The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
    • Net price: $10,061
    • Median debt: $18,350
    • Median earnings: $38,400
    • Enrollment: 1,122
  • Least expensive private school: Regent University (Virginia Beach)
    • Net price: $15,267
    • Median debt: $23,537
    • Median earnings: $41,600
    • Enrollment: 4,121
  • Most expensive public school: Christopher Newport University (Newport News)
    • Net price: $25,596
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $46,900
    • Enrollment: 4,826
  • Most expensive private school: Hampton University
    • Net price: $31,307
    • Median debt: $26,000
    • Median earnings: $44,700
    • Enrollment: 3,705

Washington

  • Least expensive public school: University of Washington Tacoma
    • Net price: $10,817
    • Median debt: $15,000
    • Median earnings: $57,700
    • Enrollment: 4,565
  • Least expensive private school: Walla Walla University (College Place)
    • Net price: $20,571
    • Median debt: $26,860
    • Median earnings: $46,400
    • Enrollment: 1,597
  • Most expensive public school: Western Washington University (Bellingham)
    • Net price: $16,529
    • Median debt: $19,000
    • Median earnings: $45,800
    • Enrollment: 15,098
  • Most expensive private school: Whitman College (Walla Walla)
    • Net price: $38,672
    • Median debt: $15,500
    • Median earnings: $51,300
    • Enrollment: 1,545

West Virginia

  • Least expensive public school: Bluefield State College
    • Net price: $8,367
    • Median debt: $20,500
    • Median earnings: $26,600
    • Enrollment: 1,228
  • Least expensive private school: West Virginia Wesleyan College (Buckhannon)
    • Net price: $18,182
    • Median debt: $27,000
    • Median earnings: $43,600
    • Enrollment: 1,121
  • Most expensive public school: West Virginia State University (Institute)
    • Net price: $14,408
    • Median debt: $23,269
    • Median earnings: $29,800
    • Enrollment: 1,643
  • Most expensive private school: University of Charleston
    • Net price: $22,284
    • Median debt: $20,500
    • Median earnings: $40,800
    • Enrollment: 1,893

Wisconsin

  • Least expensive public school: University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha)
    • Net price: $11,327
    • Median debt: $21,500
    • Median earnings: $39,900
    • Enrollment: 3,799
  • Least expensive private school: Beloit College
    • Net price: $11,433
    • Median debt: $26,600
    • Median earnings: $42,400
    • Enrollment: 1,069
  • Most expensive public school: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    • Net price: $17,876
    • Median debt: $25,000
    • Median earnings: $44,200
    • Enrollment: 19,829
  • Most expensive private school: Marquette University (Milwaukee)
    • Net price: $29,756
    • Median debt: $24,500
    • Median earnings: $62,600
    • Enrollment: 8,259

Wyoming

  • Least expensive public school: University of Wyoming (Laramie)
    • Net price: $12,159
    • Median debt: $18,356
    • Median earnings: $47,300
    • Enrollment: 9,646
  • Least expensive private school: N/A
  • Most expensive public school: University of Wyoming (Laramie)
  • Most expensive private school: N/A

Methodology

Student Loan Hero researchers initially gathered data from the Department of Education’s Scorecard on more than 1,800 public and private colleges that predominantly grant bachelor’s degrees. To be considered after this initial pull, schools needed to have an enrollment of at least 1,000.

The colleges were then separated by public and private. To rank the most expensive and least expensive colleges in each state to get a bachelor’s degree, researchers used net price, which is the average annual total cost of attendance — including tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses — minus the average in grant and scholarship aid. For public schools, this metric tracks full-time, first-time undergraduates who pay in-state tuition and receive federal financial aid. For private institutions, it includes all full-time, first-time undergraduates who receive federal financial aid. The net price data is from the 2019-2020 school year.

Analysts also included 2018-19 data on the median debt for students who completed their degree and 2017 data on median earnings of people 10 years after enrolling who have jobs. All data is the latest available.

This article originally appeared on StudentLoanHero and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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The weirdest college traditions in the US

The weirdest college traditions in the US

When you cram a bunch of young adults together on a campus for months on end, some weird things are bound to happen. In addition to producing generations of leaders, cultural touchstones and vital research, America’s institutes of higher learning have been the birthplaces of many bizarre traditions.

While every university has its own time-honored pastimes, the student bodies at some schools have pushed theirs into truly weird territory. Here are the most unique campus traditions that are still happening at colleges in the United States.

stonena7 / istockphoto

Primal Scream is a tradition that exists on many campuses, typically seeing students enjoy a period of lung-shattering screams together as they prepare for final exams. At Harvard, however, the tradition is more about the “primal” than the “scream.” 

Twice every year — before final exams in both spring and fall — students at the elite institution gather together, ditch their clothes and run a n*ked lap about Harvard Yard. Some students opt to run in their underwear but, according to the die-hards, that “doesn’t count.”

Ario Barzan

Nudity will be a common theme throughout many traditions highlighted here — and this is another buck-n*ked tradition that comes from an Ivy League university. Every year since at least the early 1990s, students at Brown have volunteered to take part in the N*ked Donut Run, aka the NDR. 

This “liberating” event sees those students disrobe and run — although it’s reportedly more of a stroll — through the various campus libraries, handing out doughnuts to those studying on the last night before finals begin.

DepositPhotos.com

The Ivies don’t have the market cornered on campus traditions that happen in the raw. Maryland’s Washington College, which has an enrollment of about 1,300 undergraduates, has seen its students baring all for a unique celebration every year since the late 1960s. May Day happens on the first day of that month and sees students welcome spring by drinking, celebrating and dancing n*ked around a maypole.

While it sounds like something out of “The Wicker Man,” Washington students and alumnus have described it as lighthearted and liberating, despite the fact that campus police have had to arrest known s*x offenders who made a trip to view the festivities in the past.

Washington College

The students at MIT have given the world some incredible breakthroughs in science and technology … and they’ve also given it a truly unique campus tradition. Dating back to 1972, students have been leaving their mark on the pavement in front of the Baker Hall dormitory by dropping a piano from its roof once a year. 

The thrilling event happens on Drop Day, the last day students can drop classes during spring semester, and sees a piano plummet seven stories to the delight of everyone within earshot.

DepositPhotos.com

Since the early 1950s, students at Ohio’s Miami University have celebrated a day of drunken debauchery that’s been described as “more exciting than graduation.” Green Beer Day is, just as it sounds, a day where the gallons of beer served in the local bars is dyed green, despite it often not falling on Saint Patrick’s Day. 

Green Beer Day happens on the Thursday before Miami’s spring break and sees students drinking from morning until the next morning, much to the chagrin of local police and many of the faculty and administrators at the school, which doesn’t sanction the event.

EEJCC

While most campus traditions are reserved especially for students or alumni, this one is open for anyone to enjoy. Auburn’s James E. Foy Information Desk, named for a beloved former dean of the Alabama school, has been taking calls since the 1950s and was basically the original Google. 

The students who work the phones at the desk will attempt to answer any question a caller poses, no matter how obscure it may be. In 2014, the hotline went viral, thanks to a Reddit post, and saw one staffer answer about 300 calls in five hours. Have a burning question? Simply dial 334-844-4244 and ask Foy!

Auburn University

Not many campus traditions have found themselves holding a Guinness World Record but Carnegie Mellon’s most unique one once did as the world’s most painted-on object. The Fence, as it’s known around the Pittsburgh campus, has been standing since 1923 and has seen countless students apply countless layers of paint to its surface.

As the rules of The Fence state, student organizations have from midnight until 6 a.m. on their appointed date to paint the structure in its entirety, using only hand brushes, to display whatever message they are promoting. A member of that group must then stand guard at The Fence at all times to protect their work — until the next group takes over. You can see The Fence in the background of this shot.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Columbia is home to some fantastic campus traditions, including the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Annual Bad Poetry Contest, but Orgo Night is the dean of them all. Dating back to 1975, this wild tradition sees hundreds of students, including the marching band, swarm Butler Library on the night before organic chemistry students take their final exam (which is where the odd name comes from). 

The event itself is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to be happening inside a library on an Ivy League campus before a pressure-packed exam, with raucous musical performances accompanying live comedy aimed at satirizing the school year before it closes.

DepositPhotos.com

Now that the tradition of sledding down snowy Libe Slope on cafeteria trays has been banned, Dragon Day is unquestionably the best of all Cornell customs. This larger-than-life celebration has been happening every March at the Ithaca, New York, campus since at least 1901. 

First-year architecture students design and construct a massive dragon and use it to lead a parade around campus. The procession used to end with the dragon being torched, but safety ordinances have banned that practice and now it culminates with a battle between the dragon and beasts built by students from other Cornell programs.

DepositPhotos.com

This tradition used to exist at many schools across America but, as of this writing, only a few still require it, including Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr. In order for students to graduate from the prestigious women’s college, they must pass a swim test at some point during their tenure. 

The test requires each student to swim continuously for 10 minutes, followed by one minute each of floating and treading water. Columbia University has a similar requirement before graduation, but it only requires students to swim three laps of the school’s pool.

bmc_admissions / Instagram

This New Hampshire Ivy has several outstanding campus traditions, including an annual “beach party” that’s held in a fraternity house filled with sand on a February night and the Ledyard Bridge Challenge, which involves swimming and sprinting in the n*de. But it’s the so-called Dartmouth Seven that tempts the bravest students to leave their mark on the historic campus.

This risky challenge asks undergraduates to have s*x at seven iconic locations around Dartmouth before they graduate, all of which come with a high risk of being caught. The locations include the 50-yard line of the football field, inside Dartmouth Hall and at the BEMA amphitheater.

Dartmouth.edu

If you thought The Masters was Georgia’s greatest sporting event, you clearly haven’t witnessed The Mini 500. Every fall since 1969, on the Friday before Georgia Tech’s homecoming football game, students compete in a road race that can only be described as … special. 

Teams of seven people — four of whom take turns riding and three of whom are on the pit crew — battle to see which group can complete eight laps around the Peters Parking Deck while riding a children’s tricycle

What makes the race a real doozy is the fact that each team must rotate their front tire three times throughout the race, leading to many wrecks when the flimsy tricycle invariably falls apart under the weight of its adult rider.

Georgia Tech

One of the oldest bizarre traditions held on an American campus happens every year at South Dakota State. Dating back to the early 1900s, Hobo Day has been a can’t-miss event for all Jackrabbits and honestly anyone around the city of Brookings. 

Every fall, students at SDSU essentially turn the campus into a massive “hobo camp,” dressing in their best hobo-inspired outfits, competing in the so-called Bum Olympics and the Miss Homelycoming pageant. Maybe the best tradition of all sees students cease shaving their faces and/or legs for a month leading up to Hobo Day to see who has the most unkempt growth.

South Dakota State University

Plenty of obscure traditions on college campuses are related to athletics and this one from Penn is truly one of a kind. At the third quarter of every home football game for the Quakers, students in the stands fling slices of toast onto the field, regardless of what the present game situation may be. 

The tradition started in the 1970s, when alcohol was banned from Penn’s football stadium, making this the closest thing fans could do to raise a “toast to dear old Penn,” as is urged during the beloved school song, “Drink a Highball.” According to the school, as many as 30,000 pieces of toast can be thrown per game during a good season.

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At Ohio State, football is essentially a religion and the school’s annual game against arch-rival Michigan is the high holy day. As such, several of OSU’s best traditions revolve around the contest, such as students taking an annual leap into the frigid Mirror Lake. 

However, the stranger and more labor-intensive custom on the Columbus campus happens during the entire week leading up to the game, when every letter “M” visible around the school is covered up. Whether found on campus buildings, signposts or even speed limit markers, no “M” is safe during Michigan week.

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While many of the traditions listed here can generously be described as self-indulgent, Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, aka Thon, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fight childhood cancer. Even with all that goodwill on its side, the tradition is still plenty bizarre. 

Every February, Penn State students cram into the school’s Bryce Jordan Center to take part in a dance marathon that lasts for 46 hours. Participants aren’t allowed to sit or sleep during that span, making it likely the most grueling campus tradition on this list.

Penn State University

Students at Minnesota’s Carleton College have concocted a few of the most unique campus traditions we found in researching this list. For one, they host an annual silent dance party that sees students don headphones, listen to a synchronized playlist and party in a library while making as little noise as possible. But the Rotblatt, which has existed since the late 1960s, is truly a masterpiece of wild traditions.

Every year, two teams of students take to a softball field at dawn for a game that lasts an inning for every year the college has existed. Given that Carleton was founded in 1866, that means more than 150 innings at this point, and counting. To make the whole thing even better, players are expected to hold a drink in their hand during the entire marathon contest.

Carleton College

The end of a school year is a time full of anxiety and tension — and the students at Oregon’s Reed College have found a cathartic way to let it all go when their work is done. All seniors at Reed have to complete a thesis project that they work on for an entire year, leaving them with mountains of research, notes and drafts once they’ve finally turned in the finished project. 

As part of the school’s annual year-end Renn Fayre celebration — which is loaded with unique traditions — seniors are invited to burn their early drafts in a bonfire, which has to be as satisfying as any custom on this list.

Reed College

You can probably put the nuts and bolts of this campus tradition together from its title, but Beer Bike is a little more complex than it sounds. Every year since 1957, students at this Houston institution have formed teams and competed in a bicycle relay race that involves copious amounts of drinking. 

The school says there are a lot of “elaborate rules” for Beer Bike, but the gist is that every team has 10 designated riders and 10 designated chuggers, who have key roles in the competition.

On men’s teams, the chugger has to slam 24 ounces of beer (or water if they’re under 21) before a rider can take off for three laps around the track. This continues until all riders and chuggers have done their parts.

Leonard Lane

If there’s a campus tradition that inspires intellectual young adults to channel their inner children, it’s Swarthmore’s annual Pterodactyl Hunt. Every fall, students at the Pennsylvania liberal arts college wear trash bags over their clothes and wield foam bats while running around the campus, hunting pterodactyls and monsters. 

Those creatures come in the form of other Swarthmore students dressed in costumes, who gladly take the beatings in the name of fun. One former student called the Pterodacyl Hunt a chance for students to “just be completely ridiculous for an evening.”

Smallbones

Speaking of mythical hunts, the University of Chicago is home to what could be described as the most epic scavenger hunt in existence. The Scav, as it’s called at the prestigious school, has taken place every year since 1987 and has grown progressively more outlandish in the passing decades. 

Hundreds of students and alumni compete to rack up points by performing feats and finding or creating items over a span of four days. According to a book about the tradition, students have gotten married, gotten tattoos, been circumcised, built working nuclear reactors and taken plane rides to unknown destinations, all for the glory of The Scav.

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Of all the traditions we’ve recounted here, the annual Pull at Michigan’s Hope College has to be one of the oldest and most intense. This titanic match of tug-of-war pits 36 freshmen against 36 sophomores, 18 of whom pull the rope and 18 of whom act as morale boosters, and has been known to be a marathon. Since it was first held in 1898, the Pull has run the gamut in length from less than three minutes to more than three hours before a winner was crowned.

Hope College

Washington, D.C.’s Gallaudet University is renowned as America’s top institution for students who are deaf or hard of hearing — but it’s also home to a truly bizarre campus tradition. Every year since at least 1900, first-year students at Gallaudet have seen their initial term end with a ceremony that is equal parts sullen and silly.

As legend has it, the freshmen classes in the old days would take care of two rats every year and then kill them and hold an elaborate funeral ceremony at the end of the school year. Today, fake rats are used, but the ceremony honoring their “lives” and burying them on campus is still as serious as ever.

Gallaudet University

Every winter, one liberal arts college in eastern Wisconsin becomes the center of the trivia universe for an entire weekend. Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest is like trivia night at your local bar — except it lasts for 50 straight hours. 

Emanating from the campus radio station since 1966, the contest sees an obscure question asked every five minutes, with teams racing to call in with their answer. There are countless mini-traditions packed into this one epic campus tradition, including the oddly specific starting time of exactly 37 seconds after 10 p.m. on the Friday night when it begins.

Lawrence University

Of all the physically demanding challenges on this list, NC State’s Krispy Kreme Challenge might sound the most awful. In 2004, a group of students at the Raleigh campus challenged themselves to sprint from the school’s signature bell tower to a Krispy Kreme bakery more than 2 miles away, eat 12 glazed doughnuts each and then sprint back to campus.

That challenge has grown to become a signature philanthropic event at NC State, raising roughly $2 million for the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital in the years since.

North Carolina State University

College sports traditions typically elicit rowdy behavior from students, but Taylor University’s annual Silent Night aims for something more eerie. At the Friday night men’s basketball game before finals week at the Indiana school, students cram into the arena in costume and remain completely silent until the Trojans score their 10th point. It makes for a bizarre feeling during the early minutes of the game, which has clearly affected opponents since Taylor is 22-1 all time in Silent Night games!

Taylor University

If simple streaking wasn’t enough for you, students at the University of Vermont have found a decidedly more uncomfortable way to bare all for their weirdest campus tradition. 

Twice a year, on the night before final exams begin each semester, UVM students strip down, mount bicycles and ride around the Burlington campus to relieve some pent-up anxiety. The school recently stopped providing security for the event on the grounds that it’s too expensive, but the N*ked Bike Ride has been a beloved tradition for uninhibited students since 2000.

AlexiusHoratius

Athletic traditions at American colleges don’t get much more violent than Tennessee’s annual Boxing Weekend. Since 1980, members of various UT fraternities — and, more recently, sororities — have been signing up to step into the ring and try to knock one another out at Knoxville’s Golden Gloves Gym. 

The event is part of a rowdy weekend on the campus and sees the gym packed with students who want to watch their classmates pummel one another. Every year, the tournament raises enough money to provide the gym with new equipment and to support three other boxing clubs around the state.

University Of Tennessee

Being startled awake by early morning fireworks would be a major annoyance in most parts of the world, but at Syracuse’s Le Moyne College, it’s like music to the ears of students. That surprise display of pyrotechnics announces the start of Dolphy Day, which is an impromptu day off from classes that happens every spring. The unexpected holiday includes 24 hours of partying and relaxation for students and has been a tradition at Le Moyne since 1971.

Le Moyne College

Allow college students in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts, to come up with their own rite of spring and you can bet it will involve lots of drinking. Since 1998, the students at Hampshire College have rushed forth from their quarters once a year in early spring to hunt for colorful kegs of beer hidden in the forest. 

The Easter Keg Hunt begins at dawn, following the kegs being placed throughout the woods on the previous night by groups of seniors, and typically sees every drop of ale consumed by noon, making for a day of revelry unlike any other at the small college.

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Hampshire College

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