Harvard, Yale, Columbia … With application season in full swing and college living costs reaching around $26,200 per student for nine to 12 months, you might be wondering where the best and worst college towns are located.  A new report released by one website has answers in its 2019’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America.

Did your favorites make the grade or did they flop? Are you headed to a town that may or may not be the best place for you to reside for the next 4 years? Is there another option and/or city that could be better for you to set down roots? Keep reading to make your decision or at least learn more about where you may or may not want to attend your college years.

And to help college-bound high school seniors determine their future home for the next several years, WalletHub compared more than 400 U.S. cities – also grouped by city size – based on 30 key indicators of academic, social and economic growth potential. The data set ranges from cost of living to quality of higher education to crime rate.

Best Large College Cities*   Best Midsize College Cities*   Best Small College Cities*
1 Austin, TX   1 Orlando, FL   1 Ann Arbor, MI
2 Tampa, FL   2 Scottsdale, AZ   2 Provo, UT
3 Las Vegas, NV   3 Gainesville, FL   3 Rexburg, ID
4 Seattle, WA   4 Salt Lake City, UT   4 Stevens Point, WI
5 Los Angeles, CA   5 Madison, WI   5 West Lafayette, IN
6 Atlanta, GA   6 Vancouver, WA   6 Storrs, CT
7 Miami, FL   7 Irvine, CA   7 Orem, UT
8 San Diego, CA   8 Reno, NV   8 College Station, TX
9 Columbus, OH   9 Henderson, NV   9 Starkville, MS
10 St. Louis, MO   10 Tempe, AZ   10 Charlottesville, VA

*For simplicity, the website used the term “cities” to refer to both cities and towns.

Best vs. worst

  • Albany, Georgia, has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, $682 per month, which is 4.1 times lower than in San Francisco and Daly City, California, the cities with the highest at $2,809 per month.
  • Edinburg, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index for young people, 77.18, which is 2.9 times lower than in Stanford, California, the city with the highest at 221.91.
  • Whitewater, Wisconsin, has the lowest cost of higher education, $17,804 per year, which is 4.1 times lower than in Evanston, Illinois, the city with the highest at $72,980 per year.
  • Stony Brook University, New York, is among the cities with the most enrolled students (per 1,000 residents), 947, which is 22.5 times more than in Cape Coral, Florida, the city with the fewest at 42.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please click here.