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50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges 2021

CVO-Most AffordableIn this article, we profile the 50 most affordable small Catholic colleges of 2021.

Small Catholic colleges offer a long academic tradition steeped in servitude and philanthropy. The Roman Catholic and Benedictine tradition carries over into academics, institution, and reputation. Attending a small Catholic college offers low student-to-faculty ratios, small class sizes (both online and in-person), and an adherence to tradition. Below is the methodology we used to find the cheapest Catholic colleges in the United States.

50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges Methodology

We reviewed 195 Catholic colleges and universities with an undergraduate student enrollment of less than 3,000 listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. We verified the following on the institution’s website: accreditation, Roman Catholic affiliation, and student enrollment. We then selected schools with an undergraduate annual tuition of less than $30,000, as published by NCES College Navigator. We selected the most affordable small Catholic colleges and ranked them according to raw affordability.

Below is our list of 50 most affordable small Catholic colleges for 2021.

#50 – University of Saint Mary

Leavenworth, Kansas

Website

University of Saint Mary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

A small Catholic college ranked with U.S. News – University of Saint Mary.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,880

The University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, one of the top small Catholic colleges on our list, is a private liberal arts college established in 1923. The school affiliation is Catholic, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The university offers a total undergraduate enrollment of 782, keeping its class sizes small and student-to-faculty ratio favorable. Popular undergraduate programs available at Saint Mary include business, criminology, education, and nursing. Several online programs are also available. University of Saint Mary ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 103rd best regional university in the Midwest and 81st top performer on social mobility.

#49 – La Roche University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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La Roche University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Study accounting or education at La Roche University – a top small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,464

One of the best Catholic colleges on our list is La Roche University, a small and private institution located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1963, La Roche has a long history of providing quality education to its students. Popular undergraduate programs include accounting, child and family studies, criminal justice and criminology, education, engineering, and numerous STEM-related studies. Several graduate programs are also available. La Roche ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 132nd regional university in the North. Also, the school ranks 31st in top performers on social mobility and #132-#173 in best online master’s in nursing programs.

#48 – Alverno College

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Alverno College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Fully accredited! Alverno College – one of the top Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,456

The small Catholic college of Alverno College was established in 1887 as St. Joseph’s Normal School, and in the 1930s became Alverno Teachers’ College. Its current name was adopted in 1946 and stands today as a reputable Catholic institution. The school is affiliated with the Sisters of St. Francis and the Roman Catholic Church and fully accredited. Also, Alverno ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #65 in best regional universities in the Midwest, #1 in best undergraduate teaching, and #46 in best value schools. Also, the school’s online bachelor’s degree programs rank #260-#345 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed.

#47 – Wheeling University

Wheeling, West Virginia

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Wheeling University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Less than 700 students! Wheeling University, affordable small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,290

Established in 1954, the private and coed Roman Catholic institution known as Wheeling University is located in Wheeling, West Virginia. The school offers a total undergraduate enrollment of less than 700 students and ranks with major publications like the Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings with U.S. News for Wheeling University include #59 in best regional universities in the South, #46 in best value schools, and #96 in top performers on social mobility. Wheeling’s graduate nursing and physical therapy schools consistently rank year after year as among the best in the country, making the school one of the best Catholic colleges. Students seeking a Jesuit education at a top Catholic university will want to consider Wheeling.

#46 – Our Lady of the Lake University

San Antonio, Texas

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Our Lady of the Lake University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Our Lady of the Lake University offers all levels of degrees and is an affordable small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,218

Located in San Antonio, Texas, the independent Catholic institution of Our Lady of the Lake University was founded in 1895 by the Sisters of the Divine Providence. The school was the first institution in San Antonio to acquire regional accreditation, and now offers a wide array of bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral programs. As one of the best Catholic colleges on our list, Our Lady of the Lake ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #298-#389 in best national universities and #54 in top performers on social mobility. Also, the social work and speech-language pathology graduate schools have earned top rankings in the United States.

#45 – Viterbo University

La Crosse, Wisconsin

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Viterbo University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small class sizes! Viterbo University – a top choice for small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $28,650

Viterbo University, one of the top small Catholic colleges on our list, was founded in 1890 and has graduates over 20,000 students. Small class sizes and a total student population of 2,603 earn Viterbo a place in our affordable small Catholic colleges ranking. The school offers over 40 majors. Popular programs include accounting (BBA), biology, English, finance (BBA), music performance, and nursing (BSN). Viterbo ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 65th best regional university in the Midwest and 129th top performer on social mobility. Also, Viterbo ranks 43rd in best colleges for veterans.

#44 – Mount Marty College

Yankton, South Dakota

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Mount Marty College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Mount Marty College is one of the top Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $28,126

Mount Marty College is one of the best Catholic colleges on our list. Not only does the school offer various programs for undergraduates, but it does so at an affordable price. Popular programs at Mount Marty include bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, elementary education, nursing, and secondary education. The school adheres to Benedictine values of awareness of faith, community, hospitality, and lifelong learning. According to U.S. News and World Report, Mount Marty ranks 108th in best regional universities in the Midwest and 97th in top performers on social mobility. Also, the school’s online graduate nursing programs have earned recognition.

#43 – Fontbonne University

Saint Louis, Missouri

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Fontbonne University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Liberal arts and co-ed classes. Fontbonne University – a top Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,260

A top small Catholic college on our list is Fontbonne University. The co-educational, liberal arts institution offers a Roman Catholic affiliation through the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Undergraduate enrollment is approximately less than a thousand students, offering small class sizes and direct contact with faculty. The school was established in 1923 and maintains a clear Catholic mission of “Virtue and Knowledge”, as the backbone of the school’s educational offerings. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fontbonne University as the 51st best regional university in the Midwest, 29th best value school, and 97th top performer on social mobility.

#42 – University of Providence

Great Falls, Montana

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University of Providence - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

800 undergraduates! University of Providence offers small class sizes.

Undergraduate Tuition: $26,242

Small Catholic colleges like University of Providence offer intimate learning environments and low student-to-faculty ratios. At University of Providence, a private institution with less than 800 undergraduate students, both undergraduate and graduate programs abound. Some of the school’s popular programs accounting, nursing (pre-licensure), RN to BSN, and psychology. Several minors and certificates are also available. University of Providence is fully accredited and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings include University of Providence among the top regional colleges in the West. While there are under 800 undergrads, the total student population at University of Providence does not exceed 950.

#41 – Chaminade University of Honolulu

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Chaminade University of Honolulu - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

One of the best Catholic colleges – Chaminade University of Honolulu.

Undergraduate Tuition: $26,134

Chaminade University of Honolulu ranks among the best Catholic colleges on our list. Affordability, access to quality programs, and institutional reputation make Chaminade University stand out among other Catholic institutions. The school offers both online and on-campus programs. Popular areas of study include business administration, community and public health, economics, education, forensic science, marketing, and nursing. Chaminade also ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #29 in best regional universities in the West, #22 in undergraduate teaching, and #28 in best value schools. Additional rankings at Chaminade include #260-#345 in best online bachelor’s programs and #226-#298 in best online master’s in education programs.

#40 – Thomas Aquinas College

Santa Paula, California

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Thomas Aquinas College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Thomas Aquinas – a recognized leader in small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $25,600

Thomas Aquinas College, a small Catholic college located in Santa Paula, California, has consistently earned rankings with major publications as a top liberal arts institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Thomas Aquinas #40 in best national liberal arts colleges, #57 in best undergraduate teaching, and #86 in best value schools. Rankings and affordability earn Thomas Aquinas a spot on our list of top Catholic institutions. The school’s student population represents approximately 43 states and totals 439 students. In addition to rankings with major publications, Thomas Aquinas is accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#39 – Spalding University

Louisville, Kentucky

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Spalding University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Best Catholic colleges! Spalding University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $25,200

Established in 1814, Spalding University is a private university located in Louisville, Kentucky. The school is affiliated with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and is named after Mother Catherine Spalding, the founder of the Sisters. Spalding offers several undergraduate degrees in popular areas of study like communication, criminal justice, education, health science, and nursing (RN to BSN, among others). In the 2021 edition of Best Colleges published by U.S. News and World Report, Spalding ranks #298-#389 in best national universities and #161 in top performers on social mobility. Also, several of Spalding’s graduate schools, including clinical psychology, occupational therapy, and social work, have earned top rankings.

#38 – Lourdes University

Sylvania, Ohio

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Lourdes University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Lourdes University – affordable small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,650

One of the best Catholic colleges on our list is the private institution of Lourdes University, located in the suburban area of Sylvania, Ohio. Founded in 1958, the school is grounded in the vision of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania. The school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest. In fact, recent U.S. News rankings include #119-#156 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #118 in top performers on social mobility. Nursing programs at Lourdes are among the school’s most popular studies. Both the graduate nursing school and the nursing-anesthesia school have received top rankings.

#37 – Trinity Washington University

Washington, District of Columbia

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Trinity Washington University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small Catholic women’s college – Trinity Washington University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,630

Trinity Washington University is private women’s small Catholic college in the D.C. area that opened its doors in 1897 after being established by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The school sits across from the Catholic University of America and the Dominican House of Studies. The school is associated with numerous honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Iota Rho, Beta Kappa Chi, and Lambda Pi Eta. While the school operates as a women’s liberal arts college, men are accepted into the undergraduate and graduate levels within the School of Education and School of Professional Studies. The school should not be confused with Trinity College in Connecticut, as it is unrelated. Trinity Washington ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 136th-176th best regional university in the North and 17th most innovative school.

#36 – Villa Maria College

Buffalo, New York

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Villa Maria College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Villa Maria College, one of the best small catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,370

Villa Maria College, one of the top small Catholic colleges on our list, emphasizes a liberal arts education while staying true to the Diocese of Buffalo. The Felician Sisters founded the school in 1961 for sisters in education as a teacher-training center. It was founded as an affiliate of the Catholic University of America. The school offers bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in arts, business, and the sciences. Popular programs at Villa Maria College include business administration, communications, fine arts, graphic design, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the institution. Villa Maria is a member of the Western New York Consortium of Higher Education.

#35 – Magdalen College

Warner, New Hampshire

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Magdalen College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Accredited and affordable! Magdalen College – a small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,000

Magdalen College, a small liberal arts institution, adheres to its Catholic principles and beliefs when providing education to its student population. Magdalen offers a liberal education that focuses on faith, humanity, and intellect. Popular programs at Magdalen College include five majors: interdisciplinary great books, literature, philosophy, politics, and theology. Each major consists of 30 credit hours and a junior project during the third year. Magdalen is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (formerly the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.). The school costs $24,000 per year.

#34 – Mount Aloysius College

Cresson, Pennsylvania

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Mount Aloysius College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Mount Aloysius has an undergrad enrollment of 1,800.

Undergraduate Tuition: $23,680

One of the best Catholic colleges on our list is the private institution of Mount Aloysius College. Founded in 1853, Mount Aloysius operates with an undergraduate student enrollment of less than 1,800. Its small class sizes and rural setting earn it a spot on our list of top catholic colleges. Also, Mount Aloysius ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 34th best regional college in the North and 38th top performer on social mobility. Popular majors available at Mount Aloysius include accounting, business administration, dental medicine, leadership in health care, medical imaging, and nursing.

#33 – Brescia University

Owensboro, Kentucky

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Brescia University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Brescia University is listed among the most affordable small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $23,500

Brescia University is a private Catholic school located in Owensboro, Kentucky. Once founded as a junior college for women, today Brescia operates as a co-ed university that offers undergraduate and master’s degree programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks Brescia 33rd in best regional colleges in the South, 12th in best value schools, and 83rd in top performers on social mobility. The school also offers affordable online programs, such as the online bachelor’s degree. In addition to school rankings with U.S. News, the online bachelor’s programs rank #217 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs. The school is fully accredited to award all levels of degrees.

#32 – Hilbert College

Hamburg, New York

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Hilbert College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Hilbert College, a small Catholic college founded in 1957.

Undergraduate Tuition: $23,450

Hilbert College, a small Catholic college founded in 1957, was originally created as a training institution for teachers. The school is named after Mother Collette Hilbert of the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph and today operates as a private Franciscan college in Hamburg, New York. Hilbert offers an expansive number of bachelor’s degree programs, including popular disciplines like business management, cybersecurity, forensic science, liberal studies, political science, and sports industry management. Hilbert also offers accreditation and a strong academic reputation. The school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 40th best regional college in the North and 14th top performer on social mobility.

#31 – Mount Angel Seminary

Saint Benedict, Oregon

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Mount Angel Seminary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

One of the cheapest Catholic colleges – Mount Angel Seminary.

Undergraduate Tuition: $23,368

Recognized among the top faith-based institutions and cheapest Catholic colleges, Mount Angel Seminary lands a spot on our list. This private catholic college follows the apostolate of the Benedictine monks of Mount Angel’s Abbey. The Seminary is made up of a graduate theology school and a liberal arts college, while also serving as preparation to enter the pre-theology graduate program. Intimate class sizes and small student-to-faculty ratio give way to a tight knit group of alumni. Each year over 1,500 alumni come together to celebrate current seminarian students and raise funds to help cover costs for them. Mount Angel offers strong academics designed to inspire the next generation of priests and graduates.

#30 – Madonna University

Livonia, Michigan

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Madonna University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small class sizes make Madonna University one of the best Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $23,100

Madonna University, one of the small Catholic colleges on our list, was founded in 1937 and sits in the suburban area of Livonia, Michigan. With an undergraduate enrollment of less than 2,500 students, the university offers small class sizes designed to promote relationships between students and peers and students and their instructors. Popular undergraduate programs available at Madonna include broadcast and cinema arts, communication studies, general music, graphic design, religious studies, Spanish, and writing. Madonna University ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 60th best regional university in the Midwest and 49th best value school. Also, as the school offers online programs, the online bachelor’s programs rank #192 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

#29 – Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

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Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small and affordable – Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,913

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, one of the best Catholic colleges on our list, was founded in 1832 and is the oldest catholic institution in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The mission of the school is to form priests, adhering to Catholic faith, while also serving as an institution of higher learning for men and women aspiring to work in different areas of ministry. The School of Theological Studies has conferred over 1,000 graduate degrees and hundreds of undergraduate certificates. Students may earn degrees and certificates in theology at Saint Charles. In addition to being recognized for its priesthood preparation, Saint Charles has earned recognition from U.S. News and World Report as a top faith-related school.

#28 – Ave Maria University

Ave Maria, Florida

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Ave Maria University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

30 undergraduate programs to choose from at Ava Maria University. A top small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,854

Ave Maria University, a small Catholic college in the sunny southwest area of Ave Maria, Florida, offers over 30 undergraduate programs. Popular areas of study include biology, business administration, Catholic studies, elementary education, finance, humanities and liberal studies, music, nursing, and politics. This Catholic liberal arts institution is one of the newer schools on our list. Founded in 2003, Ave Maria has a total undergraduate enrollment of just over 1,100 students. Also, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 171st-221st best national liberal arts college and 157th top performer on social mobility. Ave Maria is fully accredited to confer degrees.

#27 – Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

Merrimack, New Hampshire

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Thomas More College of Liberal Arts - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Affordability and size make Thomas More College a top pick for small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,600

Located in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts ranks among the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list. The school was established in 1978 as a private, classical education college that follows the Roman Catholic learning tradition. The institution is fully accredited by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges. What makes the school unique is that students earn only a liberal arts degree. There is no major concentration, but curriculum covers literature, philosophy, and political science. Thomas More ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report among the top national liberal arts colleges in the country.

#26 – Presentation College

Aberdeen, South Dakota

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Presentation College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Affordability – Presentation College, one of the cheapest Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,375

Presentation College, one of the best Catholic colleges on our list, costs about $21,000 per year and is recognized by major publications as a top health professions school. Presentation offers several degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Popular undergraduate programs include business, communication, exercise science, health science, healthcare administration, nursing (LPN-BSN and RN-BSN), and sport and event management. Several online degrees are also available in health-related subjects like healthcare administration, health science, nursing, and radiologic tech. Even in the online programs, the school pushes for hands-on learning and project-based studies. Students gain access to the school’s state-of-the-art Avera Simulation Center, designed to provide simulations in all areas of healthcare.

#25 – College of Saint Mary

Omaha, Nebraska

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College of Saint Mary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Ranked and affordable small Catholic college – College of Saint Mary.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,750

One of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list, College of Saint Mary, was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. This all-women’s college focuses on developing leadership skills in women and assisting them to find career fulfillment and purpose. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the College of Saint Mary. Also, the institution holds memberships in the National Coalition of Women’s Colleges, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and Council for Independent Colleges. In addition to the school’s memberships, College of Saint Mary ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #74 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #22 in best value schools. Female students in search of a top Catholic college should consider the College of Saint Mary.

#24 – Rosemont College

Rosemont, Pennsylvania

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Rosemont College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small class sizes earn Rosemont College a place on our list of affordable small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,500

Rosemont College operates under the principle of “The Power of Small.” This mission or belief, in addition to other aspects, earns it a top spot on our list of small Catholic colleges. Rosemont offers a range of major and minors designed for post-graduation success. Popular programs include accounting, finance, international business, management, marketing, and sport management. Rosemont partners with Drexel University College of Nursing, Fordham University, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, among others. Class size averages 12 students, providing an intimate learning environment. Rosemont also ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the North.

#23 – Avila University

Kansas City, Missouri

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Avila University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Avila University – a small Catholic college with affordable tuition.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,500

Avila University, a small Catholic college located in Kansas City, Missouri, earns a spot on our list of the most affordable small Catholic institutions. Not only does the school offer affordable programs for students, but offers a strong reputation among major publications. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Avila #119-#156 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #29 in top performers on social mobility. Popular programs at Avila include accounting, business administration, computer science, cybersecurity, healthcare administration, management, marketing, and theatre. The school offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. In addition to academics, Avila offers sports, campus programs, and numerous activities designed to promote fellowship and growth.

#22 – Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Detroit, Michigan

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

One of the best Catholic colleges on our list! Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,495

Sacred Heart Major Seminary, a Catholic school associated with the Archdiocese of Detroit, is located in Detroit, Michigan and ranked among the best Catholic colleges on our list. The school offers two bachelor’s degree programs in liberal arts and philosophy, as well as a number of certificates, diplomas, and graduate programs. The private institution is located along West Chicago Boulevard and is recognized by its Late Gothic Revival and Classical Revival architectural style. In addition to its unique architecture, Sacred Heart Major is recognized for its rigor and academics. The school is also recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top faith-based institution.

#21 – Calumet College of Saint Joseph

Whiting, Indiana

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Calumet College of Saint Joseph - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

A private and small Catholic college – Calumet College of Saint Joseph.

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,670

Calumet College of Saint Joseph, founded in 1951, is private and small Catholic college affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The main campus, located in Whiting, Indiana, operates several branch campuses scattered throughout the Chicago and Merrillville areas. Calumet College offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as various certifications for professional vocations and fields. Popular programs at Calumet include business management, criminal justice, education, forensic science, organizational management, psychology, and public safety management. Calumet ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 119th-156th best regional university in the Midwest and 33rd top performer on social mobility.

#20 – Saint Joseph Seminary College

St. Benedict, Louisiana

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Saint Joseph Seminary College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Saint Joseph Seminary – one of the cheapest Catholic colleges!

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,490

Saint Joseph Seminary College is one of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list. For under $20,000 per year, students may earn a bachelor’s in philosophy and liberal arts or enroll in the school’s pre-theology program. Saint Joseph is rooted in the Benedictine tradition that promotes learning in the liberal arts and the development of the entire person. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the bachelor of arts degree. In addition to offering a reputable undergraduate degree and being fully accredited, Saint Joseph is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Current recognition places Saint Joseph among the top faith-related schools in the country.

#19 – University of Mary

Bismarck, North Dakota

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University of Mary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Ranked with U.S. News! University of Mary – one of the best Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,074

With an undergraduate enrollment of 2,527, University of Mary is a small Catholic college recognized for affordability and low student-to-faculty ratio. The school is located in a rural campus setting in Bismarck, North Dakota. University of Mary is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #298-#389 in best national universities and #353 in top performers on social mobility. Popular undergraduate programs at Mary include accounting, biomechanics, business education, Catholic studies, computer information systems, electrical engineering, and social work. University of Mary offers one of the broadest selections of undergraduate degrees on our list.

#18 – Ancilla College

Donaldson, Indiana

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Ancilla College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

A small Catholic college offering affordable tuition – Ancilla College.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,600

Located on a rural, sixty-plus acre plot, Ancilla College is a small, private liberal arts college founded by the Roman Catholic Church and the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. The school admits both men and women, and once served as an extension of DePaul University. The bulk of Ancilla’s student population comes from the surrounding seven counties of Indiana, with a few from other areas in surrounding states. Ancilla offers affordable tuition and a strong academic reputation, making it one of the best Catholic colleges on our list. Popular areas of study include agriculture – animal science, business administration, education, exercise science, and nursing.

#17 – Belmont Abbey College

Belmont, North Carolina

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Belmont Abbey College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Belmont Abbey – one of the leading small Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,500

At Belmont Abbey College, one of the leading small Catholic colleges on our list, students gain a liberal arts education that develops the whole person–in mind, body, and spirit. The school has followed a Benedictine tradition in education and belief since opening its doors in 1876. Located just ten miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina, Belmont is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, the Abbey is the only Catholic college between Florida and northern Virginia. Popular programs include business management, cyber security, computer science, and health information management and analytics. Belmont Abbey ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 18th best regional college in the South.

#16 – Trocaire College

Buffalo, New York

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Trocaire College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Trocaire College – a top small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,340

One of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list is Trocaire College, a private, Catholic, career-oriented institution founded in 1958 by the Sisters of Mercy. Through a vigorous and supportive educational experience powered by expert faculty and a caring environment, the college strives to empower its roughly 1,300 students toward personal enrichment, dignity and self-worth in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy. Trocaire offers three bachelor’s degrees in healthcare informatics, healthcare management, and nursing, as well as several associate degrees and certificates. By offering a variety of service learning opportunities in addition to degrees in growing fields like computer network administration, cybersecurity, and nursing, Trocaire prepares its students for fulfilling, purposeful careers. Also, Trocaire has earned recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top health profession school.

#15 – Mercy College of Health Sciences

Des Moines, Iowa

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Mercy College of Health Sciences - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Mercy College of Health Sciences – an affordable small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,150

The small Catholic college of Mercy College of Health Sciences is located in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, and was established in 1899 by the Sisters of Mercy. Mercy evolved out of the hospital training school, and the downtown campus officially opened its doors in 1995. Programs at Mercy College of Health Sciences include certificates, associate degrees, and a select number of bachelor degrees in various health science studies. Some top programs at Mercy include healthcare administration, nursing, and public health. The school is fully accredited and ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top professional health institution.

#14 – Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing

Utica, New York

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Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Some of the smallest class sizes on our list! Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing.

Undergraduate Tuition: $17,580

Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing is recognized as one of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list. Founded in 1904, St. Elizabeth is a two-year, private institution that offers AAS degrees in nursing. Campus is located in Utica, New York at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains. St. Elizabeth is one of the smallest Catholic colleges on our list, with a total enrollment of just under 200 and student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. Since 2005, St. Elizabeth has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Also, the nursing degrees have earned accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

#13 – Mercy College of Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

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Mercy College of Ohio - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

One of the cheapest small Catholic colleges on our list – Mercy College of Ohio.

Undergraduate Tuition: $15,900

Mercy College of Ohio, a private institution founded in the early 1900s by the Sisters of Mercy, was formerly known as the Mercy College of Northwest Ohio. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the institution. This reputable and affordable Catholic college focuses on educating and inspiring students with career interests in healthcare occupations. Global awareness and humanitarian efforts are also of primary focus. The school is authorized by the Ohio Board of Regents, which maintains curriculum and programming for a variety of bachelor degree programs. Also, according to U.S. News and World report, Mercy College of Ohio is recognized among the top health profession schools.

#12 – Maria College of Albany

Albany, New York

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Maria College of Albany - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Small Catholic colleges with affordable tuition – Maria College of Albany.

Undergraduate Tuition: $15,600

Of the small Catholic colleges on our list, Maria College of Albany is an ideal choice for individuals seeking degrees in health professions, liberal arts, or nursing disciplines. Enrolled students may earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in various areas of study. Popular bachelor’s degree programs include healthcare management, health and occupational studies, nursing, and psychology. Associate’s degrees are available in liberal arts, nursing RN, and occupational therapy assistant. Maria College of Albany is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Also, ACEN accredits the bachelor’s in nursing program. Maria College is a member of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

#11 – UPMC Mercy School of Nursing

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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UPMC Mercy School of Nursing - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

UPMC Mercy School of Nursing is a top choice for affordable small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $15,545

One of the most affordable and best Catholic colleges on our list is UPMC Mercy School of Nursing. The school offers both full-time and part-time programs for students looking for flexibility in their education. The UPMC nursing school combines clinical experiences with rigorous academics, preparing graduates to enter the workforce to become leaders in their fields. Founded in 1895, UPMC Mercy has trained over 2,500 nurses to make an impact in the wellness of their communities. Virtual and classroom experience add to program flexibility. Also, small class sizes allow students to forge relationships with mentors and peers. The UPMC nursing school has national accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

#10 – Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science

Cincinnati, Ohio

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Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Sciences - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Good Samaritan College – cheapest Catholic colleges!

Undergraduate Tuition: $15,470

Another one of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list is Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science. This private, not-for-profit institution is located in the Cincinnati area and serves the tri-state regions of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. The school maintains a small student population of just over 400 students; classes are also kept small and offer a student-to-faculty ratio of six to one. Popular programs available at Good Samaritan include two associate’s programs in nursing (AASN) and health science (ASHS) and the RN to BSN degree. Additionally, the school offers programs in medical assisting and pharmacy tech.

#9 – University of Holy Cross

New Orleans, Louisiana

Website

University of Holy Cross - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

One of the best small Catholic colleges – University of Holy Cross.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,720

University of Holy Cross was founded in 1916 as Our Lady of Holy Cross College. It is one of the best small Catholic colleges on our list due to its academic reputation and affordability. Today, the school operates as a private liberal arts college with Roman Catholic ties through the Marianites of Holy Cross. Class sizes at Holy Cross are kept small in an effort to provide intimate learning environments and personalized educational experiences for the student body. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits the institution to award associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Popular undergraduate programs include accounting, business administration, counseling, food science, health sciences, and nursing.

#8 – Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

Richmond, Virginia

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Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing is a small Catholic college founded in 1881.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,550

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing is a small Catholic college founded in 1881 by three Sisters of Bon Secours. Today, the school carries on the ministry of the Sisters and prepares future generations of nurses who feel they are called into the profession. The institution is fully accredited, and the baccalaureate program in nursing has received CCNE-accreditation. Programs available at Bon Secours include the RN to BSN degree, which may be completed on campus or online. To be admitted to the nursing program, applicants must showcase strong academic potential. A minimum college GPA of 2.5 is required for enrollment.

#7 – Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Columbus, Ohio

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Mount Carmel College of Nursing - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Mount Carmel College of Nursing ranks among the most affordable small Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,372

Another top nursing school on our list of affordable and small Catholic colleges is Mount Carmel College of Nursing. The school enrolls approximately 900 students. Small class sizes allow students to forge relationships with fell classmates and mentors. The school offers a BSN (both online and on campus), an MSN in adult gerontology, family nurse practitioner, and nursing leadership, and a DNP. The history of the college dates back to 1903 when the Sisters of the Holy Cross founded the institution. In 1990, the school transitioned to become Mount Carmel College of Nursing and offered its first bachelor’s in nursing degree program.

#6 – Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is one of the cheapest catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,145

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is one of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list, offering undergraduate degrees for less than $14,500 per year. Not only does the school have affordable tuition, but offers its students small class sizes and an intimate learning environment. Popular degree offerings available at Franciscan Missionaries include health sciences, nursing, psychology, respiratory therapy, and theology. There is also a business administration bachelor’s degree with three tracks of study available to students. These tracks include the BBA general business track, health administration track, and management track. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits the institution.

#5 – Divine Word College

Epworth, Iowa

Website

Divine Word College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Divine Word College – a top choice for small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,440

If you’re searching for small Catholic colleges offering affordable tuition and small class sizes, Divine Word College should be on your list. The establishment of Divine Word College dates back to 1875 under the Roman Catholic order of The Society of the Divine Word. Today, the college operates as an undergraduate Roman Catholic seminary that aims to provide educational services to students preparing for missionary service in the Catholic church. Bachelor’s degree programs are available in areas like intercultural studies, philosophy, and theology and religious studies. Divine Word College is the only Roman Catholic seminary school in the United States that is dedicated to training students for Catholic missionary programs and service. Add to that the fact that it is also among the cheapest Catholic colleges, and Divine Word’s unique appeal becomes clear.

#4 – Chatfield College

Saint Martin, Ohio

Website

Chatfield College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Customizable degrees and personalized learning environment! Chatfield College – one of the best small Catholic colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,875

Chatfield College, located in St. Martin, Ohio, is a co-educational college that offers liberal arts study and grants associate’s degrees in various programs. The school is ranked among the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list. Founded in 1971, Chatfield College is named in honor of the Sister Julia Chatfield and today maintains its Catholic heritage and ties. Also, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the institution. While the majority of degrees issued are associate’s degrees, Chatfield offers opportunities to obtain bachelor’s degrees in various programs like business and nursing. A personalized learning environment and small student population make Chatfield an ideal choice for those seeking small Catholic schools.

#3 – Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Cromwell, Connecticut

Website

Holy Apostles College and Seminary - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Holy Apostles College and Seminary – one of the cheapest small Catholic colleges on our list.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,720

Founded in 1956, Holy Apostles College and Seminary was originally formed to provide education and formation for men intending to enter the Roman Catholic Church’s order of priesthood. After approximately sixteen years of service, the school shifted its responsibilities to embrace the entire Christian community and began admitting women and non-seminarians. Today, Holy Apostles College is recognized among the best small Catholic colleges. Popular bachelor’s degree programs available at Holy Apostles include English in the humanities, liberal arts, philosophy, and theology. Several online programs and associate of arts degree programs are also available. Holy Apostles College is fully accredited and recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a top faith-related school.

#2 – Catholic Distance University

Charles Town, West Virginia

Website

Catholic Distance University - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Catholic Distance University – a global small Catholic college.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,405

The global Catholic institution of Catholic Distance University is one of the cheapest Catholic colleges on our list. The school was established in 1983 under the leadership of a founding bishop of the Diocese of Arlington. Today, the school offers rigorous academics that adhere to the faith and mission of the Catholic Church. Undergraduate programs available at CDU include the bachelor’s in theology. The school also offers associate’s and master’s degree programs. CDU is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a governing body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. CDU was last accredited in 2016, but has been accredited since 1986.

#1 – Donnelly College

Kansas City, Kansas

Website

Donnelly College - 50 Most Affordable Small Catholic Colleges

Donnelly College, the #1 most affordable small catholic college on our list!

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,740

Donnelly College, the #1 most affordable small Catholic college on our list, is a coeducational institution located in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas. While the college dates back to 1949, when it was established to provide a Catholic education for urban immigrants and the working class, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that it launched its first bachelor’s degree program. Today, Donnelly College offers two bachelor’s degrees in business leadership and information systems, as well as several associate’s degrees. Also, Donnelly offers nursing programs at the associate’s degree and certificate levels. Donnelly ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 58th-76th best regional college in the Midwest and 25th top performer on social mobility.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why attend a small Catholic college?

In a recent survey published by Inside Higher Ed, prospective students and their parents offered insight into how they view Roman Catholic colleges and universities. Surprisingly, many were not choosing Catholic institutions because of their Catholic character. They chose a Catholic institution based on other factors.

In fact, 49.8% of parents and 36.3% of students surveyed with EAB Enrollment Services reported academics as the #1 characteristic they most associated with a Catholic college. The company surveyed approximately 1,800 students and 800 parents looking for how they perceive, or why they selected, a Catholic college or university. Nearly half of the parents surveyed indicated they saw academics as the most important benefit of attending a Catholic institution.

The highest number of students (43.7%) saw conservative values as the leading characteristic associated with Catholic schools. For individuals seeking conservative colleges, Catholic institutions are favored. Interestingly, not all students surveyed believed their Catholic institution was as conservative as the school’s mission boasted. In fact, some students argued that their school was not as conservative as they thought. As for parents surveyed, approximately 36.4% indicated conservative values was most associated with Catholic colleges or universities.

Tradition is also a leading factor when applying to a Catholic school. In fact, 42.6% of students surveyed said tradition prompted them to apply to their Catholic institution of choice. Approximately 33.1% of parents reported tradition as an important quality.

What are the benefits of attending a small Catholic college?

Catholic higher education offers a unique pathway toward a career. For hundreds of years, the Catholic Church has promoted a means of delivering academic excellence and preparation for aspiring clergy, leaders, and students. With an emphasis on ethics, holistic learning, and social justice, Catholic institutions of higher education develop graduates as faithful practitioners of the Catholic tradition. Benefits of attending a small Catholic college are listed below.

Dedication to Service

Catholicism is one of the most charitable religions that carries dedication to service and humanity into the academic arena. The most dedicated Catholic institutions expect their student population to get involved in outreach and volunteer opportunities. They believe that dedication to service is a necessary part of a student’s education.

Small Class Sizes

Small class sizes lead to an intimate learning environment. By bypassing large auditoriums of students, small Catholic colleges offer small group learning that promotes relationship-building among students and peers, as well as students and faculty.

Tradition

The history of academic tradition within the Catholic Church dates back to 13th-century monasteries, if not earlier. This long academic tradition has impacted the Catholic colleges of today. Academic excellence is one of the most important characteristics of a Catholic education.

What programs are available at small Catholic colleges?

Small Catholic colleges offer as much diversity in their programs as larger schools. In fact, many of the small Catholic colleges on our list offer a large number of degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, some Catholic schools offer niche programs, such as nursing and theology. Below are several majors one might choose while attending a small Catholic college.

Accounting

Some may argue that accounting is a highly specialized business degree, while others indicate it is a stand-alone program. Many small Catholic colleges on our list offer accounting as its own major and not as a business administration specialization or concentration. Accounting programs often prepare graduates to sit for specialized examinations, such as the Certified Public Accounting (CPA).

Business Administration

A business administration program often leads to a versatile career. In business administration programs, students take classes in all areas of business. Topics may cover economics, ethics, finance, human resources, operations management, and strategic management.

Nursing

With a long history and tradition in human service and philanthropy, it should come as no surprise how important health service programs are to Catholic colleges and universities. Many small Catholic colleges on our list offer all levels of nursing degrees, including the RN to BSN.

Theology

The study of theology emphasizes the Catholic Church and foundations of Catholicism. Students take courses like principles of moral theology, reading scripture theologically, and sacraments. At most Catholic institutions of higher education, theology is offered as a major.

Can I study online at a small Catholic college?

While many of the small Catholic colleges on our list serve traditional, on-campus students, some offer online degrees and programs. Few schools are exclusively online. But if you are looking to complete a program online or need online courses to offset the burden of working and going to school, programs are available.

Online programs offer many benefits, even while attending a small Catholic college. Of the small Catholic institutions on our list, class size is kept at a minimum for both on-campus and online courses. With small class sizes, it can be easier for students to forge relationships with fellow students and faculty. Often the student-to-faculty ratio is as low for online courses as it is for in-person classes. Many of the small Catholic colleges on our list offer a 10:1 or lower student-to-faculty ratio.

Other benefits for studying online at a small Catholic college include flexibility. Working students or individuals balancing outside obligations, such as family, find online study ideal. Some online courses do not require specific meeting times and allow students to access course materials at any time. This flexibility helps students balance obligations, including work, school, and family life.

Online programs are also beneficial for individuals without transportation or limited access to campus.

How much will it cost to attend a small Catholic college?

There is a stigma that Catholic colleges are expensive. And while there are private, Catholic institutions that exceed the $50,000 per year sticker price, the schools cost much less. In fact, affordable small Catholic colleges are out there, you just need to know where to find them.

If the cost of attending a small Catholic college is a factor, our list of affordable small Catholic colleges should be of interest. The schools on our list do not exceed $30,000 per year in undergraduate tuition. Of the 50 schools researched, three institutions cost less than $10,000 per year and six colleges or universities cost less than $15,000 per year. Also, 12 institutions cost less than $20,000 per year and 17 were priced below $25,000 per year.

While some schools may be pricey, financial aid and scholarship programs are available to help offset tuition. In fact, many of the schools on our list–even those with lower undergraduate tuition prices – award financial aid to qualifying students.

Financial aid awards may be broken into two categories: gift aid and self-help aid. Gift aid, usually in the form of grants and scholarships, reduces college cost. Self-help aid usually includes loans and work-study. Self-help aid makes it easier for you to contribute to your education out of your own pocket.

CVO Staff
November 2020

Sources

• Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator
• Princeton Review, College Rankings
• U.S. News & World Report, Best Colleges Rankings and Lists

Additional Resources:

This concludes our list of 50 most affordable small Catholic colleges of 2021.

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