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2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Washington

20 Colleges
$31,102 Avg Cost*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

When pursuing a degree in today's world, there are many different options to choose from. College Factual has developed its Best Value Washington Schools ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

Our analysis looked at 20 schools to determine which ones were the best for overall value in Washington. Quality is an important component in this ranking, so it is not just naming the schools with the cheapest price tag. Instead, it is identifying those institutions that offer the most value when taking their educational quality into consideration. Thus, one college may rank better than another, but the second school could have a lower average cost.

Find out 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 in Washington

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

Our 2021 rankings named University of Washington - Seattle Campus the best school for overall value in Washington for students working on their bachelor’s degree. UW Seattle is a large public school situated in Seattle, Washington. It awarded 9,269 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at UW Seattle to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $22,325. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UW Seattle be around $94,658. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. UW Seattle also made our Best Colleges in Washington list, coming in at #2.

Full University of Washington - Seattle Campus Report

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You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend University of Washington - Tacoma Campus. It ranked #2 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington list. Tacoma, Washington is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,523 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at University of Washington - Tacoma Campus about 4.2 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $19,271. This means that the average student pays around $81,709 to get a bachelor’s degree from University of Washington - Tacoma Campus. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 2.8% 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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#3

Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Western Washington University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington list. WWU is located in Bellingham, Washington and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 3,785 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at WWU is 4.5 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $21,008. This means that the average student pays around $94,536 to get a bachelor’s degree from WWU. 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 2.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#4

Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

Out of the 20 schools in Washington that were part of this year’s ranking, Washington State University landed the #4 spot on the list. Wazzu is a large public school situated in Pullman, Washington. It awarded 5,827 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Wazzu graduates in less than 4.5 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $21,509. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Wazzu be around $95,930. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Washington - Bothell Campus helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Washington. This medium-sized public school is located in Bothell, Washington, and it awarded 1,872 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At University of Washington - Bothell Campus, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $22,660. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from University of Washington - Bothell Campus be around $99,251. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

With a freshman retention rate of 88%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students.

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#6

Central Washington University

Ellensburg, Washington

With a ranking of #6, Central Washington University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Washington list. Ellensburg, Washington is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,789 students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at CWU is 4.5 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $19,531. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the CWU is $88,280. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#7

Eastern Washington University

Cheney, Washington

Eastern Washington University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking, coming in at #7. Eastern Washington University is a fairly large public school located in Cheney, Washington that handed out 2,439 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At EWU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.5 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $18,030. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the EWU is $81,676. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#8

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

The Evergreen State College came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Washington ranking. Located in Olympia, Washington, the small public school awarded 881 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Evergreen graduates in less than 4.3 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $19,054. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Evergreen is $81,551. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#9

Pacific Lutheran University

Tacoma, Washington

Pacific Lutheran University came in at #9 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Washington ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Tacoma, Washington, and it awarded 728 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.0 years for the average student at PLU to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $34,012. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the PLU is $137,408. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.4% 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%.

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#10

Whitworth University

Spokane, Washington

Whitworth University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking, coming in at #10. Located in Spokane, Washington, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 625 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Whitworth graduates in less than 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $35,509. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Whitworth is about $147,717. 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 2.0%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

Full Whitworth University Report

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#11

Gonzaga University

Spokane, Washington

Gonzaga University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking, coming in at #11. Located in Spokane, Washington, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 1,441 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Gonzaga graduates in less than 4.2 years, and it costs about $41,725 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 Gonzaga is $173,576. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 94%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Gonzaga also took the #3 spot in our Best Colleges in Washington rankings.

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#12

Whitman College

Walla Walla, Washington

Whitman College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking, coming in at #12. Whitman College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Walla Walla, Washington that handed out 374 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Whitman about 4.1 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $50,303. 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 Whitman is $205,236. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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%. Whitman did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #1 on our Best Colleges in Washington list.

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#13

Seattle University

Seattle, Washington

Seattle University came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Washington ranking. Seattle U is located in Seattle, Washington and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,341 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Seattle U to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $43,190. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Seattle U is about $180,966. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 1.9% 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%. Seattle U not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #4 on our Best Colleges in Washington list.

Full Seattle University Report

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#14

Northwest University

Kirkland, Washington

Northwest University ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Washington list. Northwest University is a private not-for-profit institution located in Kirkland, Washington. The school has a small population, and it awarded 250 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Northwest University to complete their degree, and it costs about $28,039 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $117,764 to get a bachelor’s degree from Northwest University. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors.

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#15

University of Puget Sound

Tacoma, Washington

University of Puget Sound came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Washington ranking. Located in Tacoma, Washington, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 664 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Puget Sound is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $45,410. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Puget Sound be around $187,543. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 1.1% 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%. Puget Sound did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #5 on our Best Colleges in Washington list.

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#16

Cornish College of the Arts

Seattle, Washington

Cornish College of the Arts landed the #16 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Seattle, Washington, and it awarded 145 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Cornish College of the Arts, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.0 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $31,725. 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 Cornish College of the Arts is $128,169. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#17

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Washington

Seattle Pacific University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Washington ranking, coming in at #17. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Seattle, Washington, and it awarded 723 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at SPU is 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $38,644. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from SPU is $164,237. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#18

Walla Walla University

College Place, Washington

Walla Walla University came in at #18 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Washington ranking. Walla Walla University is a small private not-for-profit school located in College Place, Washington that handed out 352 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Walla Walla U about 4.6 years to graduate, and it costs about $28,369 per year to attend the school. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla U is $131,632. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#19

Saint Martin's University

Lacey, Washington

Saint Martin’s University ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Washington list. Located in Lacey, Washington, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 307 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Saint Martin’s graduates in less than 4.2 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $36,989. This means that the average student pays around $156,463 to get a bachelor’s degree from Saint Martin’s. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#20

DigiPen Institute of Technology

Redmond, Washington

With a ranking of #20, DigiPen Institute of Technology did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Washington list. Digipen is a private for-profit institution located in Redmond, Washington. The school has a small population, and it awarded 185 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Digipen is 4.4 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $44,735. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Digipen is about $197,729. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.5% 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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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 20 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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