Virginia’s economy is increasing rapidly, and this growth is creating demand for the higher education system. Areas such as computer technology, accounting and allied health are expected to need more graduates, and students interested in one of these fields or a closely related subject will likely be warmly welcomed into Virginia’s colleges, universities and two-year institutions. Virginia students can choose from numerous schools in the state, but the task of selecting a school can seem overwhelming. This guide aims to help with the process. We looked at factors that matter to college students, such as tuition rates, financial aid availability, graduation rates and alumni salaries. We also looked at cost of living, college resources and college planning tools to help give students an overview of what to typically expect from Virginia schools.

Best Virginia Colleges: 2017 Rankings

Virginia Virginia

When it comes to choosing the best school, some questions always come to mind: What is the tuition? What is the student-to-faculty ratio? What is the graduation rate? These questions and more have led to our comprehensive rankings list, where we looked at a variety of factors that matter most and compared schools to come up with the best Virginia colleges.

Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
Tidewater Community College
99.81
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,400
22:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
14% N/A 8 92 Yes Yes
2
Lord Fairfax Community College
99.23
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,500
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
12%
33% N/A 2 42 Yes Yes
3
Southwest Virginia Community College
98.83
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,200
24:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
58%
32% N/A 7 62 Yes Yes
4
Danville Community College
98.46
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,700
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
16%
23% N/A 0 64 Yes No
5
Central Virginia Community College
98.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,300
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
25% N/A 3 57 No Yes
6
Reynolds Community College
98.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$30,800
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
4%
13% N/A 3 71 Yes No
7
Blue Ridge Community College
98.35
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,700
21:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
15%
25% N/A 0 45 Yes Yes
8
Piedmont Virginia Community College
98.26
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,400
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
7%
27% N/A 2 39 Yes Yes
9
Northern Virginia Community College
98.21
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,700
24:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
10%
23% N/A 12 103 Yes Yes
10
Eastern Shore Community College
98.01
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,000
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
12%
26% N/A 0 27 Yes No
11
Virginia Western Community College
97.75
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,900
26:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
25%
22% N/A 2 63 No Yes
12
New River Community College
97.68
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$30,000
29:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
11%
24% N/A 1 51 Yes Yes
13
Mountain Empire Community College
97.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$22,400
24:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
38%
29% N/A 5 57 No Yes
14
Thomas Nelson Community College
97.15
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,700
23:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
5%
16% N/A 8 66 Yes Yes
15
John Tyler Community College
97.07
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,800
23:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
14% N/A 5 49 No Yes
16
Virginia Highlands Community College
96.87
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$24,500
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
17%
24% N/A 0 54 Yes No
17
Wytheville Community College
96.83
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,700
26:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
39%
33% N/A 1 52 No No
18
Southside Virginia Community College
96.81
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,300
23:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
15%
35% N/A 2 67 Yes Yes
19
Germanna Community College
96.03
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$32,400
27:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
8%
23% N/A 0 35 No Yes
20
Patrick Henry Community College
95.97
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,400
22:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
29% N/A 2 53 Yes No
21
Dabney S Lancaster Community College
89.31
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,500
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
30%
27% N/A 0 45 No Yes
22
Rappahannock Community College
87.48
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,500
26:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
24%
31% N/A 2 33 No Yes
23
Paul D Camp Community College
86.00
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$23,700
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
24% N/A 0 33 No No
Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
University of Richmond
99.76
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$60,800
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
51%
83% 32% 0 67 Yes No
2
University of Virginia-Main Campus
99.55
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$58,600
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
29%
93% 29% 9 111 Yes No
3
Virginia Military Institute
99.43
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$56,600
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
66%
71% 44% 0 14 Yes No
4
Washington and Lee University
98.47
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$77,600
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
49%
90% 19% 0 37 No No
5
Hampton University
98.13
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,200
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
47%
59% 29% 12 87 Yes Yes
6
College of William and Mary
98.08
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$56,400
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
27%
90% 33% 0 49 Yes No
7
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
97.80
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$57,900
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
39%
83% 73% 6 137 Yes No
8
George Mason University
97.70
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$57,000
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
20%
66% 67% 10 147 Yes Yes
9
James Madison University
97.70
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$53,400
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
17%
80% 66% 4 75 Yes Yes
10
Hampden-Sydney College
95.80
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$50,200
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
68% 47% 0 25 Yes No
11
Sweet Briar College
95.28
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,600
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
62% 94% 0 39 Yes No
12
Averett University
95.26
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,300
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
40% 60% 0 73 Yes Yes
13
Marymount University
95.14
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$49,600
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
94%
50% 84% 1 50 No No
14
Lynchburg College
94.92
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$40,900
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
57% 67% 1 49 Yes No
15
Roanoke College
94.85
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,500
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
65% 69% 0 37 Yes No
16
Randolph-Macon College
94.68
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$45,700
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
56% 60% 0 35 Yes No
17
Emory & Henry College
94.48
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,600
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
46% 72% 0 69 No No
18
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
94.40
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$52,300
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
41% N/A 4 16 No Yes
19
University of Mary Washington
94.33
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$47,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
25%
76% 77% 0 32 Yes No
20
Eastern Mennonite University
94.26
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,500
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
98%
59% 60% 1 50 No No
21
Bridgewater College
94.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,600
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
57% 48% 0 29 Yes Yes
22
Mary Baldwin College
93.94
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,800
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
49% 95% 0 47 Yes Yes
23
Randolph College
93.84
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,700
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
57% 81% 0 37 No Yes
24
Old Dominion University
93.80
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$43,300
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
41%
49% 82% 26 88 Yes Yes
25
Shenandoah University
93.41
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$40,600
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
96%
37% 83% 1 57 Yes Yes
26
Bluefield College
93.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,800
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
100%
34% 98% 7 35 Yes No
27
Hollins University
93.38
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$37,000
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
56% 56% 0 36 Yes No
28
Virginia Commonwealth University
92.59
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,800
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
41%
56% 75% 13 131 Yes No
29
Radford University
92.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,100
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
18%
60% 79% 0 55 Yes No
30
Christopher Newport University
92.20
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$42,400
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
36%
67% 56% 0 23 Yes Yes
31
Virginia Wesleyan College
91.32
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,100
13:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
48% 89% 0 42 No Yes
32
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
91.01
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,500
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
80%
42% 69% 0 11 No No
33
Virginia State University
90.95
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,400
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
62%
44% 80% 0 49 Yes Yes
34
Longwood University
90.40
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$40,800
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
21%
61% 73% 1 29 Yes No
35
Regent University
90.27
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,300
32:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
36% 80% 8 44 Yes Yes
36
Liberty University
89.73
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,300
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
78%
46% 22% 43 78 Yes Yes
37
Norfolk State University
88.90
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,400
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
42%
36% 66% 2 46 Yes Yes
38
Ferrum College
88.58
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,500
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
99%
33% 73% 0 34 Yes No
39
Southern Virginia University
86.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,800
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
90%
30% 47% 0 13 Yes No
40
Virginia Union University
86.00
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,600
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
58%
30% 24% 0 21 No No

Virginia College Search & Compare Tool

After prospective college students have reviewed the rankings list, they may want to consider factors that are tailored to their individual needs and goals. By placing schools side by side and directly comparing them based on characteristics like location and student enrollment, users can more effectively decide which Virginia school is more advantageous than another.

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College Outreach Programs in Virginia

Getting to college is not typically easy. In order to help make the process less complicated, Virginia offers several programs to provide guidance and information to hopeful college students, including students who may be at a disadvantage in the college planning and application process. The following is a list of state programs that may be of interest to prospective college students.

GEAR Up Virginia

This state program helps low-income and homeless students get to college and succeed once there. Starting in middle school and continuing through the first year of college, students will receive college preparatory services and skill development assistance in the form of mentoring, college visits, tutoring, financial aid guidance and summer programs. There is also a GEAR UP scholarship to help pay for college as well as graduate resources for job seekers.

I Am The One

This is an information resource for prospective college students, their families and school guidance counselors. There are three primary categories of assistance, including financial aid guidance, college preparation, and career and academic planning. From help with standardized tests to information tailored to student athletes, there is a wealth of advice for those who want to attend college. There is even a section dedicated to helping middle school students anticipate their college and career goals.

123Go!

Recognizing the difficulties many prospective Virginia college students face, 123Go! consists of three events to help students prepare for college. The first is College Nights in Virginia, an information session about things prospective college students should know. The second is Virginia College Application Week, where volunteers and counselors help first-generation college and low-income students fill out their college applications. The final event is Super FAFSA Project Virginia, where students will receive guidance on filling out their FAFSA application.

Cost of College in Virginia: How Does It Stack Up?

How much will school actually cost? Students at Virginia colleges can anticipate a certain amount of tuition set each year by the school. However, financial aid packages offset a great deal of that expense. How much those financial aid packages are and how many students receive them can help aspiring students figure out where Virginia stands compared to the national cost of college. The following charts examine tuition, financial aid and the percentage of students who qualify for it.

Average Virginia Tuition & Fees at 4-Year Public Colleges

Source: CollegeBoard

% of Virginia Students Receiving Financial Aid

Source: IPEDS

Average Financial Aid Award for Virginia Students

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Most Affordable Virginia Colleges

The net price of a given college is the figure after applicable financial aid is subtracted from tuition. Since many students receive financial aid assistance in some form, the tuition rate of a school alone rarely provides an accurate representation of how much a school costs. The net price gives a much better idea of the cost a student might have to pay out of pocket after all financial aid options are exhausted. These six schools are the top in Virginia for the lowest net price.

Average
Annual Net
Price

Cost for students awarded federal financial aid, after school and government aid is deducted. At public colleges, only applies to in-state students.

Virginia College Net Price vs. National Average
VIRGINIA $19,666 Average
Annual Net Price
$18,073

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Virginia Colleges with Highest Alumni Earnings

A major reason students go to college is to potentially increase their future earnings. To figure out which Virginia colleges offer the greatest earning potential, we looked at how much alumni make ten years after college enrollment. These are the top six Virginia schools with the highest-paid alumni.

Annual
Median Earnings
10 Years
After Entering
College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

Virginia Alumni Salaries vs. National Average
VIRGINIA $44,795 Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
$42,759

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colleges in Virgina With Least Alumni Debt

Another way of calculating cost of attendance is to look at the average debt of a graduate of a particular school. In most cases, students who receive larger financial aid awards from their school of choice will need to take out fewer student loans. The following rankings display the top six schools in Virginia that produce graduates with the lowest student debt and compare them to the national average.

Median
Federal Student
Loan Debt After
Graduation

Only for undergraduates who completed college; does not include Parent-PLUS loans.

Virginia College Grad Debt Vs. National Average
VIRGINIA $25,031 Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
$23,145

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Virginia Cost of Living: College Expenses Beyond Tuition

Prospective students should also consider the cost of living in the area a desired school is located. An area that has a higher cost of living than the national average can easily offset any tuition savings or financial aid awards. Even though the average cost of living in Virginia is about 8 percent higher than the national average, not all parts of the state have the same cost of living. The following chart provides more detailed information about specific metropolitan areas in Virginia.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 92% 87% 92% 99% 90% 97% 95%
Hampton Roads-SE Virginia 98% 88% 91% 102% 95% 107% 106%
Harrisonburg 97% 99% 94% 103% 87% 105% 96%
Lynchburg 91% 84% 90% 100% 86% 95% 95%
Richmond 81% 70% 91% 79% 90% 81% 83%
Roanoke 90% 88% 90% 100% 86% 95% 89%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

Accrediting Agencies for Colleges in Virginia

Accreditation is a very important part of choosing the right school. Accreditation certifies that the education provided by a particular college meets certain high quality educational standards. Choosing an accredited school usually provides the student with valuable instruction, credits that will transfer and a degree that will be recognized by graduate schools and employers.

In Virginia, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits schools at the institutional level. Depending on a college’s specific course offerings, individual programs can be accredited as well. Below are a few examples.

Major College Cities in Virginia

Charlottesville

One of Charlottesville's most notable features is the University of Virginia, one of the highest ranked schools in the United States. However, its students know how to enjoy themselves when not studying by visiting The Corner, a center for college socializing outside of class. Though it has a heavy influence, the University of Virginia is not the only school in Charlottesville. Many higher education options are available within a short drive of the city center.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

CharlottesvilleUniversity of Virginia Public $17,149 $58,600
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, UVA enjoys the prestige of being one of the most well-regarded universities in the country. UVA has over 21,000 students who study in areas such as law, business, education, architecture, kinesiology and mechanical engineering. The University of Virginia is well known for its Health System, which provides outstanding medical care, research and education to students, patients and the world community.
CharlottesvillePiedmont Virginia Community College Public $7,541 $29,400
PVCC is one of 23 schools that make up the Virginia Community College System. This one focuses on serving students in central Virginia. Since its inception, PVCC has served an estimated 213,000 students by providing education and skills training in areas such as computer science, medical diagnostic sonography, graphic design and surgical technology. PVCC also serves as a feeder school, sending more than 2,400 students to the University of Virginia through its transfer program.
Richmond

Although Richmond has all the trappings of a modern city, it holds onto the past by preserving historical neighborhoods and maintaining historical attractions. As a result, students who attend any one of the several colleges and universities in Richmond enjoy a pleasant mesh of modern day living and historical reminiscing.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

RichmondVirginia Commonwealth University Public $18,354 $41,800
Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University is a relatively large school with over 31,000 students. VCU offers over 225 study options, many of which are typical for a major university. However, some of the more unique programs include clinical radiation sciences, homeland security and emergency preparedness, kinetic imaging, and venture creation. The university especially shines with its medical and graduate arts program, having the number one hospital in Virginia and the number one graduate arts program in the country.
RichmondUniversity of Richmond Private not-for-profit $24,505 $60,800
Founded in 1830 as a private liberal arts school, the university now offers over 60 majors. The school pays special attention to its students with an average class size of 16 and an 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio; in fact, the university doesn't have a single class taught by a teaching assistant. Students will also appreciate the "Richmond Guarantee," where every undergraduate student is eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $4,000 for a research project or summer internship.
RichmondReynolds Community College Public $7,307 $30,800
Although RCC is the newest of Virginia's community college, having started in 1972, it is the third largest, with more than 20,000 students served over three campuses. The college offers a variety of programs and credentials, including automotive technology, culinary arts, cyber security, accounting and nursing. One of the more notable programs is its transfer associate degree, where students can begin the first two years of a bachelor's degree before transferring to a four-year college or university.

Source: College Scorecard

College Resources for Students in Virginia

Many students can use additional help to make the most of their higher education. The following is a list of programs and resources to help Virginia’s college students accomplish their academic and professional goals.

Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia

The CICV represents the nonprofit, private and accredited colleges and universities in Virginia. CICV promotes private and independent higher education in Virginia by supporting both the schools and their students.

Elevate Virginia

This statewide initiative ensures that Virginia has the skilled workers it needs to fulfill the complex jobs springing up in the new economy.

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)

The SCHEV promotes higher education in Virginia. In addition to working on higher education policy, the SCHEV provides college resources for prospective college students.

Virginia 529 College Savings Plan

Run by VA529, an independent state agency, a 529 college savings plan is an investment vehicle that can receive certain tax benefits, like tax deferred growth.

Virginia’s Community Colleges

These colleges exist to help students achieve necessary workforce training and college educational instruction. Virginia’s Community Colleges’s website helps guide students through the application, enrollment and attendance processes for community college.

Virginia Education Wizard

The Wizard is an online tool to help students of all ages learn more about themselves and determine what their academic and professionals goals are.