10 Most Affordable Commuter Colleges

Most Affordable Commuter Colleges - featured image

Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson, MS.Ed. / Reading Level: Grade 9 / First covered: December 2023

Everyone deserves to have a quality education without having to break the bank. The most obvious solution is seeking financial aid and scholarships. Private organizations and government agencies usually offer these. Another way to reduce your college costs is to enroll in a school near or a commuting distance away from your home. By doing so, you can save around $11,950 for a public four-year college or $13,620 for a private college. You will be saving the average annual cost of room and board.

Most Affordable Commuter Colleges - fact

Top 10 Affordable Commuter Colleges

# 1. California State University, Dominguez Hills

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $7,059 (in-state)

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Most of the students at California State University, Dominguez Hills, commute to the campus. This is mainly thanks to:

  • The school’s convenient location
  • Easy freeway access
  • Public transportation discounts

Moreover, the University provides various on-campus services that benefit commuter students, such as:

  • Dining services
  • Career and professional counseling
  • Computer laboratories
  • Health and psychological services

The Office of Student Life also helps commuters in getting involved with on-campus activities and college experiences.

#2. Baruch College – City University of New York

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $3,465 per semester (in-state)

Baruch College, a part of the City University of New York system, is a mostly commuter public college with a residence hall. When the on-campus housing is at capacity, students are provided with off-campus housing resources. They can connect with services that find housing options within commuting distance from the campus. 

#3. Wright State University

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $12,538 (in-state, commuter); $31,914 (out-of-state)

Wright State University provides a range of practical services to its commuter students. These include facilities like:

  • The Commuter Lounge and other study space
  • Dining Plans
  • Shuttle options (including the University’s Raider Ride)
  • Commuter parking
  • iCommute Resource Hub

#4. University of North Georgia

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $16,500-22,000 (in-state)

The University of North Georgia has several commuter campuses, including:

  • Blue Ridge
  • Gainesville
  • Oconee

The University has a Commuter Council. It aims to integrate commuting students into campus life. It also represents the commuter students to the University to ensure effective communication. The University also has ample commuter student parking spaces.

#5. Indiana State University

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $17,986-$25,108 (in-state); $29,414-$36,536 (out-of-state)

Indiana State University does have an on-campus requirement for first-year students. Students who earn less than 32 academic hours must stay in residential halls. Despite the requirement, students can apply for exemptions. To apply, they must then live with their parents or legal guardians within 60 miles of the campus. In fact, around 60% of the University’s student population comprises commuter students. commuter students. 

#6. University of Maine at Farmington

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $19,738-$24,080 (in-state); $36,440 (out-of-state)

The University of Maine at Farmington welcomes commuter and off-campus students. Its Commuter Council hosts free luncheons every month. It also sponsors programs that address the needs of commuter students. There are many relevant services and facilities for its off-campus and commuting students. The University also offers basic overnight accommodation during bad weather.

#7. University of Alabama in Huntsville

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $22,947-$30,637 (in-state); $37,118-$44,808 (out-of-state)

At the University of Alabama in Huntsville, commuter students comprise around 85% of the entire undergraduate student body. It provides a range of relevant services and facilities on campus. For example, commuter students can eat at the Charger Union and lounges.

#8. University of Rhode Island

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $34,255 (in-state, commuter); $55,893 (out-of-state, commuter)

Through its Commuter Affairs Office, URI addresses the needs of off-campus students. Students can enjoy various university services and facilities such as:

  • Commuter Student Parking Permits
  • Off-Campus Housing Resources
  • Commuter Involvement
  • Commuter Lounge
  • Dining Programs

#9. University of California at Berkeley

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $33,010-$41,592 (Living with relatives or in an off-campus apartment)

Many of the undergraduates at UC Berkeley come from within Alameda County. They also are from surrounding counties like:

  • Santa Clara
  • Contra Costa
  • San Joaquin
  • San Mateo

This is according to the school’s Fall 2023 data. So, it’s no wonder UC Berkeley has been considered a commuter college for several years. Furthermore, the University provides student commuter permits for night/weekend and daily parking.

#10. University of Texas at Dallas

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Estimated Cost for Undergrad: $33,376 (in-state); $58,876 (out-of-state)

University of Texas at Dallas has an established student program called Road Warriors. It serves as a community supporting commuter students. Key members of this program are available to provide information on things like:

  • Commuting and transportation options
  • Campus services
  • College events
  • Social events

Events are also organized for commuter students, such as:

  • Free commuter breakfasts
  • Commuter Mixers
  • Road Warriors Commuter Cafe
What Are Commuter Colleges?

Most students at commuter colleges live off campus instead of in on-campus housing. Some universities and colleges require students to stay on campus during their first year. Some allow exemptions for students applying to live off-campus with a guardian or parent. Fortunately, many schools don’t have these residency requirements.

Institutions don’t generally label themselves as a commuter school or commuter campus. There are a few distinguishing features, however, that indicate they’re commuter colleges. These include the following:

  • There are no or limited on-campus housing options available
  • More than 50% of enrolled students live off campus in nearby rental houses or living with parents
  • Most students come from nearby neighborhoods or areas with convenient access to the campus. Many use public or mass transportation
  • Commuter colleges have class schedule options to cater to students who work and have other commitments. This includes weekends and evening classes.
  • Commuter-related services, facilities, and student organizations are usually available

Note that just because most students live nearby, commuter colleges aren’t solely community colleges. On the other hand, all community colleges can be considered as commuter colleges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of attending college in a commuter school?

Several benefits of enrolling in a Commuter College may appeal to you.
– You can enjoy greater cost savings. Commuter colleges can offer lower tuition rates. They have no or minimal costs related to on-campus housing and facilities.
– You have more flexibility and can live independently. You’ll not be bound to the rules and limitations of on-campus housing arrangements.
– You will have greater control of your schedule when living off-campus. Balancing your study, work, and personal life will be easier.
– You will have everyday commuting experiences. Navigating public transport and maintaining a motor vehicle, can provide practical life skills and personal growth.
– You’ll get to know a diverse group of students. Commuter schools generally accept students with various backgrounds and life experiences.

What are the consequences of enrolling in a Commuter College?

Studying in a commuter college also comes with some disadvantages. These include the following:

  • Limited campus engagement, like extracurricular activities and on-campus social opportunities. Fortunately, this can be addressed by actively seeking engagement through joining student clubs. There are even ones dedicated to commuter students.
  • Time management challenges due to commuting time. This can be addressed by establishing realistic schedules and prioritizing tasks. Commuter schools often provide evening and weekend classes. These can accommodate those with work or personal commitments during regular class hours. Those with long commutes can consider studying or listening to educational audio files while on the road.
  • Limited access to on-campus resources and facilities. Commuter students who spend most of their lives outside the campus can make the most of the services offered by the school. There are commuter-focused student organizations. There is often an office for commuter students seeking information about things like:
    • commuter-specific perks
    • after-hours services
  • Also, some colleges have a dedicated commuter lounge where students can study. This lounge may also be equipped with a refrigerator and cooking equipment. This way, commuter students to store, reheat, and enjoy their lunches.

How can Commuter Colleges assist their commuting students in terms of transportation options?

Established commuter colleges provide a range of services to their students living off-campus. The most common of these services is providing parking spaces for commuter students. There can permits for nighttime or weekend parking. 

Other transportation-related perks that a commuter college can provide are the following:

  • Dedicated shuttle services to the campus
  • Collaborating with public transport companies for student discounts
  • Carpooling