Most Affordable LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities

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From bullying at school to discrimination in the workplace, those in the LGBTQ community have suffered many disadvantages throughout their lives.

Fortunately, the nonprofit organization Campus Pride helps students discover colleges with LGBTQ-friendly practices, policies and programs.

Of course, cost of tuition is another important consideration, especially as the average student graduates owing nearly $40,000 in student loans. That’s why Student Loan Hero set out to find the most affordable LGBTQ-friendly schools for both in-state and out-of-state students.

If you’re looking for a progressive campus that takes a strong stand against discrimination — and won’t break the bank — read on for the results of our latest study.

5 most affordable LGBTQ-friendly colleges for in-state students

The Campus Pride Index highlights colleges that are committed to creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ and allies on campus. Based on this index, we looked at schools that score four stars or higher (out of a total of five) and then ranked them according to affordability for students.

If you’re staying in state, attending a public college could get you the lowest tuition rates. Below are the five most affordable colleges for in-state residents, based on their in-state costs and the average financial aid awarded to each student.

Note that Student Loan Hero calculates the average cost of attendance for in-state students by subtracting the average grants and scholarships from the total cost of attendance. Cost of attendance may be impacted by a number of factors including financial need and academic performance. The actual listed price (with no aid) appears on the charts below.

1. University of Washington-Seattle campus

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for in-state students: $26,595
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $15,251
Average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students: $11,344

The University of Washington in Seattle received a full five-star rating on Campus Pride’s index for its institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive practices. This large urban research university is home to more than 31,300 undergraduates and was ranked No. 14 in the world by the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Not only does the University of Washington offer a wide range of academic departments and 275 study-abroad programs, but the school is also generous with financial aid. The average gift aid award is $15,251, bringing the average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students down to just $11,344 per year.

2. University of Maine at Machias

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★ ½
Listed cost of attendance for in-state students: $19,466
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $8,049
Average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students: $11,417

While the University of Washington is a large urban school, the University of Maine at Machias is the opposite, with a small student body of just 800 in a rural setting. As one of seven schools in Maine’s system, the University of Maine at Machias offers a limited number of majors, including English, biology, environmental studies and education.

If you’re a Maine resident, you could enjoy average annual costs of $11,417 per year, thanks to over $8,000 in scholarships and grants.

3. Purdue University

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for in-state students: $22,812
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $10,908
Average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students: $11,904

If you’re looking for a big school in a small city, you might head to Purdue University, which has a student body of more than 43,000 in West Lafayette, Ind. Purdue, which received four stars on Campus Pride’s index, ranks No. 17 in Niche’s 2019 top public universities and best big colleges in the U.S.

The university also offers generous financial aid, with an average award of nearly $11,000. Note, however, that this figure could be skewed somewhat toward athletic scholarships, as Purdue is a Division I school with 18 varsity teams.

4. California State University, Northridge

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★ ½
Listed cost of attendance for in-state students: $22,127
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $9,924
Average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students: $12,203

As part of California’s state school system, Northridge has a student body of 38,310 students and 356-acre campus in the San Fernando Valley. From education to engineering, math to the humanities, this large school offers a diverse array of academic concentrations.

If you’re a California resident, your tuition costs could be just over $12,000 a year at this school. Along with its commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, we rated CSU with four and a half stars.

5. University of Minnesota-Morris

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for in-state students: $23,922
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $11,709
Average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students: $12,213

Coming in at No. 5 on this list of most affordable LGBTQ-friendly colleges for in-state residents is the University of Minnesota-Morris, a small school in Minnesota’s state system with about 1,700 students. Located in the small town of Morris, Minn., this liberal arts university offers a variety of majors and pre-professional programs, as well as the opportunity for students to define their own majors.

5 most affordable LGBTQ-friendly colleges for out-of-state students

While in-state public colleges often offer the lowest tuition rates, you might prefer to go further afield to earn your degree. As it turns out, the most affordable LGBTQ-friendly schools are located in the Midwest.

Specifically, the campuses within the state university systems of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois offer savings opportunities even for out-of-state students. What’s more, elite schools such as Princeton might be more affordable than they first appear, thanks to generous financial aid packages that offset the high tuition costs.

Note that Student Loan Hero calculates the average cost of attendance for out-of-state students by subtracting the average grants and scholarships from the total cost of attendance. Cost of attendance may be impacted by a number of factors including financial need and academic performance.

Here are the top five affordable schools for out-of-state students.

1. University of Minnesota-Morris

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $25,942
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $11,709
Average estimated cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $14,233

Not only is the University of Minnesota-Morris affordable for Minnesota students, but it keeps costs low for out-of-state students, too. If you’re coming from another state, you might only have to pay about $2,000 more than your Minnesotan counterparts in annual tuition while enjoying an average gift aid award of $11,709.

As long as you don’t mind the cold Minnesota winters, you could keep costs down at this small school that received four stars from Campus Pride’s national index of LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities.

2. Eastern Illinois University

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $25,821
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $8,100
Average estimated cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $17,721

Whether or not you’re from Illinois, Eastern Illinois University (EIU) offers relatively affordable tuition costs — with an estimated cost of $17,721 per year after accounting for an average of $8,100 in scholarships and grants. Founded in 1895, this medium-sized college has a student body of just over 7,400.

As part of its commitment to an inclusive campus, EIU has a Center for Gender and Sexual Identity with campus, community and national resources for students, including an online Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Asexual (LGBTQA+) WebCenter with additional advice and guidance.

3. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $26,377
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $5,195
Average estimated cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $21,192

Part of the University of Wisconsin system, the Whitewater campus has about 11,000 full-time students. Its most popular majors include the humanities, communications and finance. The school’s PB Poorman Pride Center offers a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and allies to connect, and holds events and speaker series.

Although the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is less expensive for out-of-state students than some other schools, you might still need to apply to scholarships or take out student loans to cover its estimated cost of attendance of $21,192 per year.

4. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $27,184
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $5,256
Average estimated cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $21,928

The University of Wisconsin’s Green Bay campus is another affordable option for students looking for a proactively LGBTQ-friendly campus. Founded in 1965, this school is home to more than 7,000 students. Its Pride Center offers information and guidance to students, and hosts various events throughout the year, including an inclusivity health art fair and ally training seminars and discussions.

5. Princeton University

Campus pride index rating: ★★★★★
Listed cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $66,150
Average awarded scholarships and grants: $44,128
Average estimated cost of attendance for out-of-state students: $22,022

If you’ve got your sights set on the Ivy League, consider Princeton University for its five-star ranking on the Campus Pride Index and relatively affordable tuition for out-of-state students. Even though Princeton’s nominal tuition is a whopping $73,450 per year, the school’s large endowment means it has lots of scholarships and grants to distribute, especially to students with financial need.

So don’t get scared off by the sticker price, since you never know what kind of financial aid package you could get. Of course, first you’ve got to get past Princeton’s highly selective 5.5% admissions rate. But if you make it in, you could enjoy a world-renowned college with a highly active LGBT center for its students.

 

Most affordable LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities: Full rankings

While we highlighted the top most affordable colleges for in-state and out-of-state students, these schools were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to relatively low-cost LGBTQ-friendly schools. Click here to see the full list, along with a breakdown of costs for tuition, fees, housing and other expenses.

Seek out scholarships for LGBTQ students to help with tuition

Even at the most affordable schools on this list, tuition costs can add up. To avoid having to take on a burdensome amount of student debt, seek out additional scholarships and grants to cover costs.

To start, all students should submit the FAFSA, which puts you in the running for federal student aid. This could include need-based grants, such as the Pell Grant, as well as subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans.

Outside of federal aid, look for scholarships and grants from private organizations. The Audre Lorde Scholarship and Box Diversity Scholarship, for example, are just two awards available to LGBTQ students and other historically underrepresented groups.

You can also use the Pride Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Scholarships.com or other scholarship search engines to find additional scholarships. The more gift money you can earn, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your degree.

Finding the best college for you

Deciding where to go to college is never easy. There are lots of factors to consider, including the size of the school, where it’s located and the strength of its academic programs.

If you identify as LGBTQ, you might prioritize a school that’s proactive about promoting a welcoming environment for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Fortunately, Campus Pride is an excellent resource for finding LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities that have substantive anti-discrimination policies.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, don’t forget to factor in cost of attendance, too, along with potential financial aid. That way, you can find a great college experience and avoid taking on a massive amount of student debt.

Methodology

Using a list of colleges and universities rated at least four stars by the Campus Pride Index, researchers analyzed the published attendance costs (2017-18 academic year) and average grant and scholarship awards (2015-16 academic year), as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.