2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public institutions also rank highly among the best colleges and universities in many states, Virginia included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Showing 30 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    University of Virginia-Main Campus

    Charlottesville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    95%

    Enrollment

    25,012

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $17798

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $50900

    University of Virginia-Main Campus, which operates a campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, often ranks as a top school. Students study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for learners with a variety of professional goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. These policies make it easier to enroll. Admission advisors can help applicants complete the process. Financial aid helps degree-seekers pay for their education. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #2

    College of William and Mary

    Williamsburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    90%

    Enrollment

    8,773

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $23628

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $46854

    From its campus in Williamsburg, Virginia, William & Mary educates students as a public institution. Students leave the school with credentials that prepare them for the workplace. Learners enroll in academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. William & Mary has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #3

    Virginia Military Institute

    Lexington, VA

    Graduation Rate

    79%

    Enrollment

    1,698

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $19118

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $45962

    A public institution, Virginia Military Institute enrolls students on its campus in Lexington, Virginia. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution offers coursework that gives students the chance to gain relevant knowledge and skills. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Virginia Military Institute is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #4

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Blacksburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    36,383

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13691

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32835

    From its campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offers programs as a public institution. The college offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. The school supports enrollees with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #5

    James Madison University

    Harrisonburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    84%

    Enrollment

    21,820

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $12206

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $29106

    From its campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia, James Madison University enrolls students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. Students complete courses and experiential learning opportunities to bolster their knowledge. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. James Madison University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #6

    The University of Virginia's College at Wise

    Wise, VA

    Graduation Rate

    44%

    Enrollment

    1,978

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10252

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $28661

    From its campus in Wise, Virginia, The University of Virginia's College at Wise grants degrees and certificates as a top school. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Completing a program can take anywhere from a few months to seven years depending on degree or certificate type and whether the student chooses part-time or full-time enrollment. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions department can provide more information on the process. Financial aid helps enrollees cover their educational expenses. The University of Virginia's College at Wise has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #7

    Christopher Newport University

    Newport News, VA

    Graduation Rate

    78%

    Enrollment

    4,919

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14924

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $27790

    Christopher Newport University, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Newport News, Virginia. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department provides additional resources on submitting an application. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Christopher Newport University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #8

    George Mason University

    Fairfax, VA

    Graduation Rate

    71%

    Enrollment

    37,863

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $12564

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $36024

    Located in Virginia, George Mason University enrolls students in 272 programs. The institution's programs offer a rigorous course of study. Information on the student-to-faculty ratio is unavailable. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. Students in the school's programs graduate at a rate of 71%. Job seekers often benefit from hands-on experience, which makes them more competitive job candidates. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Some programs let applicants apply without submitting test scores. Applicants can reach out to the admission department to learn more about enrolling.

    #9

    Germanna Community College

    Locust Grove, VA

    Graduation Rate

    37%

    Enrollment

    7,225

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4913

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10916

    From its campus in Locust Grove, Virginia, Germanna Community College educates students as a public institution. Students complete programs that prepare them for careers and professional advancement. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution offers both academic and technical programs. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #10

    Dabney S Lancaster Community College

    Clifton Forge, VA

    Graduation Rate

    39%

    Enrollment

    1,032

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4710

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10713

    Located in Clifton Forge, Virginia, Dabney S Lancaster Community College enrolls students as a public institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 39%. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. Dabney S Lancaster Community College has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #11

    Piedmont Virginia Community College

    Charlottesville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    45%

    Enrollment

    5,312

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4790

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10793

    A public institution located in Charlottesville, Virginia, Piedmont Virginia Community College enrolls students in several programs. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution provides academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Piedmont Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #12

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Richmond, VA

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    29,757

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14596

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $35904

    Virginia Commonwealth University ranks as a top school from its campus in Richmond, Virginia. Students take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The programs offer academic and technical tracks to help learners meet their career goals. Typical time for program completion ranges from a few months to seven years depending on the type of degree or certificate offered. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. These policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department provides more information about the application process. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #13

    University of Mary Washington

    Fredericksburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    65%

    Enrollment

    4,488

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13270

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $29696

    From its campus in Fredericksburg, Virginia, University of Mary Washington awards degrees and certificates as a top school. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help learners meet their professional goals. Depending on the degree or certificate type, enrollees can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years completing a program. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions staff can provide more information on the process. Financial aid helps enrollees cover their educational expenses. University of Mary Washington has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #14

    Lord Fairfax Community College

    Middletown, VA

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    6,716

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4739

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10742

    From its Middletown, Virginia campus, Lord Fairfax Community College offers 45 program options for students. The institution's many rigorous academic programs rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-instructor ratio is currently unknown. Information on the average amount of aid students receive is unavailable. The school reports a 38% graduation rate for its programs. The institution understands that hands-on experience makes graduates more competitive in the job market. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying.

    #15

    John Tyler Community College

    Chester, VA

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    10,152

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4800

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10803

    John Tyler Community College enrolls learners from its Chester, Virginia campus. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. The school's academic and technical tracks help students meet diverse career goals. Academic programs can take as little as a few months or as many as seven years to complete, depending on the degree or certificate type and the student's enrollment status. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department can provide more information on the process. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. John Tyler Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #16

    Northern Virginia Community College

    Annandale, VA

    Graduation Rate

    27%

    Enrollment

    51,822

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5610

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11693

    Northern Virginia Community College, which offers programs from its Annandale, Virginia campus, often ranks among the top schools. Students take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. The waiver makes it simpler to apply. The admissions department can help students complete the process. Financial aid provides options for degree-seekers to pay for their education. Northern Virginia Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #17

    Wytheville Community College

    Wytheville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    49%

    Enrollment

    2,450

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4725

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10728

    A top-ranked school, Wytheville Community College enrolls learners in programs from its campus in Wytheville, Virginia. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. Academic and technical programs help students reach their professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Students may find it easier to apply without a test score requirement. The admissions department can help prospective students complete their application. Financial aid provides options for degree-seekers to pay for their education. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #18

    Radford University-Carilion

    Roanoke, VA

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    Not Provided

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $11350

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $23432

    Located in Roanoke, Virginia, Radford University-Carilion attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The school's academic and technical tracks help learners meet diverse career goals. Depending on the degree or certificate type, enrollees can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years completing a program. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help prospective students determine the next steps. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. Radford University-Carilion has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #19

    Mountain Empire Community College

    Big Stone Gap, VA

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    2,313

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4710

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10713

    Located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Mountain Empire Community College educates students as a public institution. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. Learners receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Mountain Empire Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #20

    Patrick Henry Community College

    Martinsville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    2,238

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4720

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10723

    Patrick Henry Community College enrolls students at its Martinsville, Virginia campus as a public institution. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 38%. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. Patrick Henry Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #21

    Virginia Western Community College

    Roanoke, VA

    Graduation Rate

    32%

    Enrollment

    6,303

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5355

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11358

    Located in Virginia, Virginia Western Community College enrolls students in 65 programs. Degree-seekers enroll in rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. Information on the student-to-teacher ratio is unavailable. The amount of aid students receive on average is not currently known. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 32%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs no longer require standardized tests for admission. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

    #22

    Southside Virginia Community College

    Alberta, VA

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    3,219

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4695

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10698

    From its campus in Alberta, Virginia, Southside Virginia Community College offers academic programs as a public institution. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution offers an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #23

    Central Virginia Community College

    Lynchburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    37%

    Enrollment

    3,813

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4838

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10841

    A public institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Central Virginia Community College offers a variety of programs. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements depending on their program. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #24

    New River Community College

    Dublin, VA

    Graduation Rate

    33%

    Enrollment

    4,332

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4697

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10699

    New River Community College, which operates a campus in Dublin, Virginia, often ranks as a top school. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. Academic and technical programs help students reach their professional goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. Admission advisors can provide more information on the application process. Financial aid provides options for degree-seekers to pay for their education. New River Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #25

    J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

    Richmond, VA

    Graduation Rate

    23%

    Enrollment

    8,711

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4998

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11001

    From its campus in Richmond, Virginia, J Sargeant Reynolds Community College educates students as a public institution. The school offers accredited programs that prepare learners for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. The institution offers both academic and technical programs. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. J Sargeant Reynolds Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #26

    Thomas Nelson Community College

    Hampton, VA

    Graduation Rate

    27%

    Enrollment

    7,314

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4806

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10809

    A public institution, Thomas Nelson Community College enrolls students on its campus in Hampton, Virginia. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students gain knowledge and skill specific to their field by completing their program's coursework requirements. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Thomas Nelson Community College has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

    #27

    Old Dominion University

    Norfolk, VA

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    23,675

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10680

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $30840

    Old Dominion University, which offers programs from its Norfolk, Virginia campus, often ranks among the top schools. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for learners with a variety of professional goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Applicants may qualify for a standardized test score waiver. A waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can provide more information on the process. Enrollees at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. Old Dominion University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #28

    Danville Community College

    Danville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    31%

    Enrollment

    2,813

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4725

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10728

    From its Danville, Virginia campus, Danville Community College enrolls students in 76 programs. Students choose from rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The student-to-faculty ratio is unavailable. Data on the average amount of aid students receive is unavailable. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 31%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The institution's admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs no longer require test scores for admission. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements.

    #29

    Virginia Highlands Community College

    Abingdon, VA

    Graduation Rate

    36%

    Enrollment

    2,286

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4800

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11508

    Virginia Highlands Community College, which operates a campus in Abingdon, Virginia, often ranks as a top school. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school's academic and technical tracks help learners meet diverse career goals. Visit the program's website to find information on the typical timeline for completion. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. At the accredited institution, students also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Virginia Highlands Community College has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    #30

    Blue Ridge Community College

    Weyers Cave, VA

    Graduation Rate

    31%

    Enrollment

    3,834

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5364

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11367

    Located in Weyers Cave, Virginia, Blue Ridge Community College attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. A test score waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department provides more information about the application process. At the accredited institution, enrollees also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Blue Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Why Choose a Public College or University in Virginia?

    Students eyeing public colleges and universities in Virginia enjoy a variety of options, from small public schools to large universities. The state offers 15 public 4-year institutions, one two-year college, and 29 community colleges, serving more than 360,000 students.

    The best public schools in Virginia offer students broad academic opportunities, immersive learning experiences, and engaging extracurricular activities. Six public universities in Virginia have attained the highest research designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Students enjoy access to innovative learning opportunities like the Northern Virginia Fabrication Laboratory, the NOVA Tech Talent Pipeline, and the Hampton Roads Cyber Collaboration Laboratory.

    In-state students paid an average of $13,655 in tuition and fees in 2020. That’s higher than the U.S. average of $9,349. However, financial aid can lower your out-of-pocket costs. Virginia offers several financial aid programs for residents. Out-of-state students can consider programs offered through the Academic Common Market to save on out-of-state fees.

    Students have many options for their post-secondary education. Choosing the school that’s right for you requires research. Learn about the differences between public and private colleges, and also consider whether it makes sense for you to attend an online college in Virginia.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Virginia

    Pros

    • Because public colleges and universities in Virginia receive funding from the state government, in-state students can save on tuition costs compared to private or out-of-state schools.
    • Public colleges and universities in Virginia offer a wide variety of degree options, ensuring students can find programs to meet their educational and professional goals.
    • Enrollment in public four-year colleges in Virginia ranges from about 1,800 students to almost 40,000 students, allowing you to choose between both large and small public schools.

    Cons

    • Public colleges and universities may have more limited financial aid opportunities for students than private schools.
    • Out-of-state students pay higher fees than in-state students.
    • Students may find big public schools more difficult to navigate and have less opportunity to interact with faculty or take part in experiential learning.

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Virginia

    Both private and public colleges and universities in Virginia may qualify as nonprofit organizations. These schools channel revenues and funds into their academic and student support programs through facility improvements, hiring additional faculty, or supporting student financial aid programs.

    Nonprofit colleges and universities may offer degree-granting programs or focus on in-demand career training. They often seek accreditation and participate in federal financial aid. Public nonprofit colleges and universities receive state funding. Private nonprofit colleges and universities rely on tuition payments and endowments.

    For-profit colleges are owned by a company or business. Virginia calls these schools proprietary institutions. These institutions may focus on career training or alternative educational programs. They do not receive federal or state funds and rely on tuition payments for their funding.

    While many for-profit colleges offer valuable academic offerings, be sure to research these schools carefully. Check their accreditation status, graduation rates, and institutional reputation. Six for-profit universities operate in Virginia.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in Virginia?

    Students attending public institutions in Virginia paid an average of $13,660 in tuition in 2021, higher than the U.S. average of $9,350. Out-of-state students pay more to attend public colleges and universities in Virginia, with an average of $35,830 in tuition and fees. Room and board added another $11,420 in higher education expenses.

    Private colleges and universities in the state charge an average of $23,490 in tuition. Nationwide, private colleges and universities charged an average of $32,770 in tuition and fees that same year. Students should also consider the cost of transportation, books, school supplies, and technology. Students spend an average of $1,220 each year for textbooks.

    College costs can vary from student to student. Residents of Virginia may qualify for state financial aid programs in addition to federal student financial assistance, reducing their out-of-pocket costs.

    William & Mary reports the highest tuition for in-state students, $36,554 per year, but the U.S. Department of Education reported students paid an average of $19,800 after grants and scholarships. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is the least expensive public institution in Virginia, with an average cost of $10,060.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

    How many public colleges and universities are there in Virginia?

    Fifteen public institutions operate in Virginia. These schools serve more than 220,000 students. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia also oversees one two-year college and 29 community colleges.

    Public colleges and universities in Virginia range from small schools offering undergraduate degrees to large universities with associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Six universities in the state have earned recognition for their research programs.

    What is the most expensive public college or university in Virginia?

    Christopher Newport University in Newport News is the most expensive public institution in Virginia with an average of $25,600 in tuition and living expenses. The school serves about 4,800 undergraduate students. Just under half of the students at the school take federal student loans, graduating with a median of $24,739 in debt.

    Christopher Newport conferred 1,100 undergraduate degrees in 2021 in 42 academic majors. Its business and biology programs rank among its most popular degree offerings. It boasts a 74% graduation rate. Graduates reported earning a median salary of around $55,030 a decade after entering the school.

    What is the least expensive public college or university in Virginia?

    The U.S. Department of Education reported students attending The University of Virginia’s College at Wise paid the least among Virginia’s four-year public institutions. Students paid an average of $10,060 in tuition and living expenses to attend the small public university. That’s below the nationwide average of $19,202 for all four-year schools.

    UVA Wise serves about 1,100 undergraduate students, most of whom attend full-time. The college offers degrees in 33 majors, with five pre-professional tracks. More than 80% of students receive financial assistance. The school reported a 44% graduation rate but found 82% of graduates secure post-graduate employment, enter graduate school, or serve in the military or other service programs.

    What is the biggest public college or university in Virginia?

    George Mason University reported the highest enrollment in 2021 among Virginia’s public colleges and universities, with 39,142 students. Most of these students (27,335) were enrolled as undergraduates. The Fairfax campus just outside Washington, D.C., occupies 677 acres. It offers 80 undergraduate degrees through its 10 schools and colleges.

    It reported a 74% graduation rate and 87% first-year retention rate. Students paid an average of $21,050 a year in tuition and living expenses in 2021.

    Is a public college or university right for me?

    Public colleges and universities offer students many advantages, including diverse academic offerings, lower tuition costs, and a large network of classmates and alumni. Several public institutions in Virginia offer highly regarded academic programs. But a public college or university may not be the best fit for all students.

    When choosing the best school for you, consider your learning needs, academic and career goals, and financial need. Some students may find a smaller college or university offers a better academic experience with more faculty interaction. Smaller schools may offer a robust roster of extracurricular activities that can provide a fulfilling college experience.