The students of Southern Utah University apparently have something to celebrate: They live in America’s most affordable college town.
That’s according to a new list from Clever Real Estate, which ranked Cedar City No.1 on a list of the 30 most affordable college towns.
And Provo – home of Brigham Young University and close to the University of Utah Valley of Orem – ranks just behind in fourth place.
But don’t celebrate too loudly, because apparently those same areas rank poorly for quality of life, according to the same list.
Affordable university towns
Clever Real Estate focused on three factors to rank the affordability of college towns: median student loan debt, annual net cost (tuition minus average scholarships, student aid, and grants) and median monthly rents for a one-bedroom apartment near campus.
The site found Cedar City students graduating with the least amount of student loan debt, a median of $ 7,623, and paying almost the least in rent, a median of $ 550 per month. Cedar City’s annual net cost for education averaged $ 14,285.
On rent, three other cities ranked lower in terms of median rent cost but had higher net costs or student loan debt: Rolla, Missouri, at $ 450 per month; Ruston, Louisiana, at $ 515 per month; and Moscow, Idaho, at $ 525 per month.
Behind Cedar City, Provo is owned by Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Hammond, Louisiana, as the fourth most affordable college town, with a median monthly rent of $ 895, a net cost of $ 13,322 and a median student debt of $ 8,750.
Here’s how the top 10 affordable college towns ranked in the Clever Real Estate rankings:
- Cedar City, Utah: $ 550 in rent, $ 14,285 in net cost, $ 7,623 in student loan debt.
- Las Cruces, New Mexico: $ 695 in rent, $ 8,659 in net cost, $ 10,830 in student debt.
- Hammond, Louisiana: $ 625 rent, $ 12,171 net cost, $ 11,000 student debt.
- Provo, Utah: $ 895 in rent, $ 13,322 in net cost, $ 8,750 in student debt.
- Laramie, Wyoming: $ 663 rent, $ 12,159 net cost, $ 12,003 student debt.
- Ruston, Louisiana: $ 515 in rent, $ 12,084 in net cost, $ 14,080 in student debt.
- Terre Haute, Indiana: $ 575 rent, $ 13,896 net cost, $ 12,500 student debt.
- Kirksville, Missouri: $ 550 rent, $ 12,462 net cost, $ 13,986 student debt.
- Gainesville, Florida: $ 950 in rent, $ 6,302 in net cost, $ 14,831 in student debt.
- Cookeville, Tennessee: $ 613 for rent, $ 15,929 in net cost, $ 11,616 in student debt.
Topping the list of the least affordable college towns is Manhattan, New York, with a monthly rent of $ 3,516, a net cost of $ 28,697, and a median student debt of $ 16,301. Lewisburg, Pa., Ranked No. 2 most expensive, with $ 625 in rent, $ 42,502 in net cost, and $ 22,269 in student debt. Cleveland, Ohio, ranked third most expensive, with $ 1,075 in rent, $ 35,428 in net cost and $ 21,725 in student debt.
Poor quality of life
While Cedar City and Provo ranked among the best in affordability, they also ranked at the top of a list of 30 college towns with the “worst quality of life”.
Clever Real Estate looked at several factors to determine the quality of life scores, measuring “how easy it is to get around, how the student body compares to the locals, and how many sports, restaurants and areas there are. ‘entertainment options.
The site noted “walking” and “cycling” near universities, calculated the number of art, entertainment and recreation establishments per 100,000 inhabitants, calculated the number of restaurants per 100,000 residents, took into account whether the college participates in a Power 5 sports conference and compared the ratio of students to the general population of the regions.
Here are the top 10 university towns with “the worst quality of life,” according to the site:
- Long Beach, California.
- Fullerton, California.
- Ruston, Louisiana.
- Kirksville, Missouri.
- Stony Brook, New York.
- Medford, Massachusetts.
- Richardson, Texas.
- Provo, Utah.
- Cedar City, Utah.
- Cedar Falls, Iowa.