Virginia is a state rich in the history of the U.S. Although it is densely populated, the majority of it is covered in greenery and forests. This fact alone makes it a budding choice for students. Combine that with some of its low-cost, famously accredited universities and Virginia suddenly becomes one of America’s strongest contenders for student life. In this article, we will be covering the cheap universities in Virginia for both in-state, out-of-state, and international students.

Affordable Schools in Virginia for International Students

1. Virginia State University, Petersburg

  • Tuition Fees:  $5,327 (In-State) | $15,442 (Out-of-State & International)

VSU is the state’s first public land grant university and is set on a 231-acre campus. It is a historically black university. A point of pride at the institution is a $300k federal grant that helped bring more of its minority students into the study of climate change. The centre offers 31 undergraduate programs and boasts a 412-acre agricultural research facility, known as the Randolph Farm.

Its in-state tuition fees are very cheap when compared with other universities, making it a sound choice for local residents. Its out-of-state and international fees are also among the lowest and it has a good reputation for cultural diversity.

2. Norfolk State University, Norfolk

  • Tuition fees: $5,478 (In-State) | $16,920 (Out-of-State & International)

With 31 bachelor’s degree programs, Norfolk State is another historically black university. On-site is an African art museum, which the students can visit and even help contribute to. This university prides itself on being a very culturally diverse establishment.

All of the different tuition fees are on the lower end of the scale, for Virginia. Its in-state fees, and its reputation, make it a popular choice for local residents. In this cheap university in Virginia, out-of-state and international tuition fees are also incredibly low, which makes sense for it to achieve cultural diversity.

3. James Madison University, Harrisonburg

James Madison University is a large institution with a vast number of degree programs to choose from, 139 to be exact. It has previously been named the number one college for employment in Virginia, according to the U.S Department of Education. Those looking for a career in the state would do well to add this university to their list when making a choice.

Its tuition fees are high when compared to others in this list of cheap universities in Virginia. However, it has many accolades and accreditations against its name making it a fantastic university of choice in the state. It is definitely more popular with in-state residents with a low 2% population of international students and 24% of its students coming from out-of-state.

4. Radford University, Radford

Radford University is nationally recognized for the strength of its academic programs. Due to its beautiful location, emphasis is put on outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking and kayaking. The university also has a background in sustainability and has been successful in its efforts to promote this in the everyday lives of the students and faculty members.

The tuition fees here are not among the lowest in Virginia. However, as previously mentioned, its academic recognition is well above average. Although the out-of-state and international fees are relatively high, it is important to mention that the university has students from 46 states and 66 foreign countries.

5. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Wise

  • Tuition Fees: $5,366 (In-State) | $21,926 (Out-of-State & International)

This liberal arts university is situated in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. With a choice of 31 different majors, the students here carry the lowest debt of any public liberal arts graduates, in the nation. This is almost certainly something to look into when considering cheap universities in Virginia.

Again, the out-of-state and international tuition fees are high when compared with others. However, the in-state fees are definitely in the lower third. The majority of students here qualify for financial assistance, such as grants, scholarships, or loans.

6. Old Dominion University, Norfolk

With over 120 undergraduate programs, Old Dominion University has a vast choice of degrees. In addition to this, its initiatives contribute $2.6 billion annually to the state’s economy. This is a figure that they are very proud of. The university also boasts a fantastic doctoral research facility.

The student population here represents 110 countries from around the world. This statistic is important to bear in mind when looking at their international tuition fees. Its tuition fee is cheap, but the quality of education is great.

7. University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg

In 2019, ‘College Factual’ ranked this university among the top 10% on its ‘Best for the money without aid’ list. Because of that, the University of Mary Washington makes our list of cheap universities in Virginia. This is another liberal arts institution, it offers more than 60 majors and programs. It has a low teacher-to-student ratio and the small classes create a more personalized learning experience.

The quality of education here is very good. Many universities use graduate teaching assistants. However, this university only has teachers with a Master’s in their field. The population contains students from 38 foreign countries, so it is fairly popular regardless of its tuition fees.


There is a strong argument to be made for Virginia residents residing in-state to study. Some of the universities listed here have fantastic opportunities to offer their students with a cheap price tag that doesn’t always seem to make sense. In most cases, there is a stark difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition fees. However, a lot of universities still have a large population of students from other states and countries. I think this can tell you a lot about the quality of establishments here, as well as the quality of student life.


We hope that this article on the cheapest universities in Virginia was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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