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Below you will find a list of the Top 50 affordable colleges and universities in the Western United States, commonly agreed to comprise Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington. All schools in this region were analyzed and ranked separately according to public and private institutions.

To start, we first compiled a list of all the regionally accredited institutions in the region, and then we zeroed in on schools meeting our definition of affordable. For the purposes of this article, "affordable" refers to having a net price (total cost of attendance minus the average financial aid package) below $22,000 - roughly the typical price tag of a year of college. At this point, we then collected a large amount of data on eight quality indicators: 6-year graduation rate, freshmen retention rate, student-to-faculty ratio, percentage of classes entrusted to graduate assistants, average entrance ACT score, number of campus organizations, number of academic programs, and Forbes ranking. We included the Forbes ranking because, more than other sources that write on education, it assesses schools based on measures of student "output" and satisfaction.

We then assigned points to each school based on their performance in each category; the 25 schools in each division (public and private) with the highest scores made this list. They are listed in descending order according to their net price, but we also included their quality ranking so you can see for yourself just how much value each institution offers.

Public Schools

25. University of California – Berkeley
Berkeley, California


50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Western USA
The University of California at Berkeley combines elite academic status with a strong history of community service and activism. Academically, the school has few peers. From engineering, to physical sciences, to anthropology, analysis by the National Research Council found that Berkeley has the greatest number of top ranked graduate programs in the U.S. After your classes with top-notch faculty (no TA classes here) that currently include eight Nobel Laureates, you can dine in the FSM Café to attend an event celebrating Berkeley’s role in the Free Speech Movement of 1964. Looking to compete in (or watch) your favorite sport? Berkeley teams have earned 85 national titles. Considering the Peace Corps? Berkeley is the only university to have more than 3000 alums serve.

Net Price: $16,614
Ranking: 4th
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