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2021 Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in the Plains States Region

164 Colleges
$20,846 Avg Cost (With Aid)*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

Choosing which college to attend may be one of the most important decisions in your life. College Factual has developed its Best Plains States Region Schools For The Money For Those Getting Aid ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

We analyzed 164 colleges and universities to determine which were the best for overall value for the money with aid in the Plains States Region. This ranking doesn't just identify the colleges with the lowest costs. Rather, it highlights those institutions that offer excellent educational experiences for a lower cost than other schools of roughly the same caliber. Thus, one college may rank better than another, but the second school could have a lower average cost.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

To calculate the average cost amount, we sum up the total expenses to attend a school - such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other living expenses - and then subtract the average financial aid award a student receives. So it is an approximation of how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket each year on average.

Customizing Your List

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as overall quality or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. We encourage you to try it out and pit your favorite colleges and universities head to head!

Top Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in the Plains States Region

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of Minnesota - Morris

Morris, Minnesota

Our 2021 rankings named University of Minnesota - Morris the best school for overall value for the money with aid in the Plains States Region for students working on their bachelor’s degree. University of Minnesota - Morris is a small public school located in Morris, Minnesota that handed out 385 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at UMN Morris graduates in less than 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $14,646 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $62,099 to get a bachelor’s degree from UMN Morris. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#2

University of Minnesota - Rochester

Rochester, Minnesota

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend University of Minnesota - Rochester. It ranked #2 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region list. Rochester, Minnesota is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 84 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at UMN Rochester to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $17,420 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UMN Rochester is $71,945. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.2%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#2

College of the Ozarks

Point Lookout, Missouri

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list means College of the Ozarks is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Point Lookout, Missouri is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 362 students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Hard Work U graduates in less than 4.2 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $13,777 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Hard Work U be around $58,001. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#4

Truman State University

Kirksville, Missouri

A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list means Truman State University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Kirksville, Missouri is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,216 students in 2018-2019.

At Truman State, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $18,927 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Truman State is $80,250. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 86%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Truman State also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

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#5

Martin Luther College

New Ulm, Minnesota

Out of the 164 schools in the Plains States Region that were part of this year’s ranking, Martin Luther College landed the #5 spot on the list. MLC is located in New Ulm, Minnesota and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 190 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at MLC graduates in less than 4.4 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $19,221 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $85,341 to get a bachelor’s degree from MLC. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.2%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, MLC also did well on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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With a ranking of #6, North Dakota State University - Main Campus did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. North Dakota State University is located in Fargo, North Dakota and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,588 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At North Dakota State University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $21,224 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the North Dakota State University is $96,145. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The low student loan default rate of 2.6% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. North Dakota State University excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list.

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#7

Cottey College

Nevada, Missouri

With a ranking of #7, Cottey College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. Cottey College is a private not-for-profit institution located in Nevada, Missouri. The school has a small population, and it awarded 53 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Cottey College about 4.2 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $15,275 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Cottey College is about $64,002. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The student-to-faculty rate of 7 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one.

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#8

South Dakota State University

Brookings, South Dakota

With a ranking of #8, South Dakota State University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. South Dakota State is a fairly large public school situated in Brookings, South Dakota. It awarded 2,026 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At South Dakota State, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $20,370 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State is about $89,628. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 4.2% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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University of Nebraska at Kearney came in at #9 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region ranking. University of Nebraska at Kearney is a medium-sized public school located in Kearney, Nebraska that handed out 850 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at UNK is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $20,217 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UNK is $91,987. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 4.6% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#10

Winona State University

Winona, Minnesota

Winona State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking, coming in at #10. Located in Winona, Minnesota, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,822 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Winona State, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $21,880 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Winona State is $98,022. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#11

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

University of Northern Iowa landed the #11 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking. UNI is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,500 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at UNI graduates in less than 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $24,198. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from UNI is $107,439. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, UNI also is in the top 20% of our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking.

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#12

University of Minnesota - Duluth

Duluth, Minnesota

With a ranking of #12, University of Minnesota - Duluth did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. UMN Duluth is a fairly large public school situated in Duluth, Minnesota. It awarded 2,162 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at UMN Duluth is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $22,044 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UMN Duluth be around $98,537. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.0% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

Full University of Minnesota - Duluth Report

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#13

University of Mary

Bismarck, North Dakota

University of Mary landed the #13 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking. UMary is located in Bismarck, North Dakota and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 532 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at UMary to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $20,895 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UMary is about $92,774. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#14

University of South Dakota

Vermillion, South Dakota

University of South Dakota ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. U of South Dakota is located in Vermillion, South Dakota and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,352 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at U of South Dakota graduates in less than 4.4 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $20,860 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from U of South Dakota is $90,950. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#15

Central College

Pella, Iowa

With a ranking of #15, Central College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. Central College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Pella, Iowa that handed out 290 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Central, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $27,752 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Central is $112,673. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. In addition to its great value ranking, Central is in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list.

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#16

Clarkson College

Omaha, Nebraska

Clarkson College came in at #16 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region ranking. Clarkson College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Omaha, Nebraska that handed out 142 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Clarkson College is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $18,870 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Clarkson College is $77,744. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 2.0% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#17

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Northwestern College came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Orange City, Iowa, and it awarded 258 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At NWC, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $24,946 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from NWC is $103,027. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#18

College of Saint Mary

Omaha, Nebraska

College of Saint Mary did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking, coming in at #18. Saint Mary is located in Omaha, Nebraska and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 159 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.3 years for the average student at Saint Mary to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $21,743. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Saint Mary is $92,843. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#19

Bethany Lutheran College

Mankato, Minnesota

Bethany Lutheran College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking, coming in at #19. Mankato, Minnesota is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 135 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at BLC about 4.2 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $21,294 per year to attend the school. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from BLC is $88,796. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors.

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#20

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Iowa State University landed the #20 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking. This large public school is located in Ames, Iowa, and it awarded 7,380 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Iowa State is 4.4 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $26,749 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $118,231 to get a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

With a freshman retention rate of 87%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Iowa State also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools in this category.

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#21

Bemidji State University

Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji State University came in at #21 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region ranking. This small public school is located in Bemidji, Minnesota, and it awarded 1,036 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Bemidji State University, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $15,793 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $69,489 to get a bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State University. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#22

William Jewell College

Liberty, Missouri

With a ranking of #22, William Jewell College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. Liberty, Missouri is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 323 students in 2018-2019.

At William Jewell, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $24,544 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from William Jewell be around $101,367. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#23

Augustana University

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Augustana University landed the #23 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Plains States Region ranking. Augustana Sioux Falls is located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 442 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at Augustana Sioux Falls graduates in less than 4.3 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $27,732 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Augustana Sioux Falls is $118,416. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 0.4% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. Augustana Sioux Falls excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in the Plains States Region list.

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#24

Emmaus Bible College

Dubuque, Iowa

Emmaus Bible College ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. Emmaus Bible College is located in Dubuque, Iowa and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 91 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Emmaus Bible College is 4.4 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,988 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Emmaus Bible College be around $74,068. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

Full Emmaus Bible College Report

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#25

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

With a ranking of #25, University of North Dakota did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Plains States Region list. This fairly large public school is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and it awarded 2,231 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At UND, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.6 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $23,788 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UND is about $109,187. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.6% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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View Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) Nationwide >

All Majors and Fields of Study >

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our Best Colleges for the Money ranking:

Rank College Location
26 Wartburg College Waverly, IA
27 Loras College Dubuque, IA
28 Gustavus Adolphus College Saint Peter, MN
29 Northwest Missouri State University Maryville, MO
30 Concordia College at Moorhead Moorhead, MN
31 Coe College Cedar Rapids, IA
32 University of Minnesota - Crookston Crookston, MN

More Rankings >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • For our state-specific rankings, we use in-state tuition to calculate average cost. For our national and regional rankings, we use a weighted average of in-state and non-resident tuition.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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