Advise your seniors: These are the 25 most affordable college towns in the U.S.

Broke Scholar's latest analysis—known as The Ramen Index—lays out which cities are most generous with student discounts and scholarship rewards for those who need to live on a shoestring.

The past couple of years have without a doubt proved difficult for students and recent high school graduates as they continue to navigate the murky waters of higher education amidst inflation and crippling tuition costs. But colleges aren’t turning a blind eye to the issues.

Zaneta Encarnacion, chief of staff to the superintendent/president of the Southwestern Community College District, shared with University Business how Southwestern College is investing in its students through impactful student resources such as emergency grants to help them respond to unexpected expenses and a food kitchen students can access to bring home food for their families.

For some students, however, those resources aren’t available. They live on a ramen-dependent budget and hang their hopes on finding a college town that is affordable for their four-plus-year journey.

The Ramen Index, an analysis by Broke Scholar, a resource for students seeking student discounts and scholarship rewards, breaks down the top 25 U.S. cities for students to “thrive on a Ramen budget.” And according to the list, Manhattan, Kansas, tops the rankings with access to low rent and affordable tuition costs.

Here’s a look at the rest of the most affordable cities for high school seniors to consider:

  1. Manhattan, Kansas
  2. Lawrence, Kansas
  3. State College, Pennsylvania
  4. Provo, Utah
  5. Blacksburg, Virginia
  6. Champaign, Illinois
  7. Gainesville, Florida
  8. Normal, Illinois
  9. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  10. Kalamazoo, Michigan
  11. La Crosse, Wisconsin
  12. College Station, Texas
  13. Bloomington, Indiana
  14. Carbondale, Illinois
  15. Jackson, Michigan
  16. Iowa City, Iowa
  17. Madison, Wisconsin
  18. Berkeley, California
  19. Waco, Texas
  20. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  21. Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  22. Alexandria, Louisiana
  23. Logan, Utah
  24. Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  25. Cleveland, Tennessee


Broke Scholar analyzed 1,000 top cities in the U.S. across three categories:

  • Student demographics: Percentage of the population in their 20s and percentage of the population never married.
  • Affordability: Cost of living, average college tuition and median rent vs. the national zero.
  • Fun and opportunity: Density of bars, unemployment rate and access to walking and biking.

More from DA: College counseling: This list of the 100 best college towns could sway students

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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