SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Three Utah cities were named among the best towns for college students by WalletHub. Salt Lake City was ranked No. 5 in the nation among midsize cities and Provo and Orem ranked No. 3 and No. 5 respectively for small cities.
The WalletHub study compared more than 400 cities with 32 key metrics split into three categories: wallet friendliness, social environment, and academic and economic opportunities. The metrics included housing costs, cost of living, population, retail, crime, job growth, and more.
“As student expenses can reach over $30,000 for a 12-month period, students should try to find the most bang for their buck,” WalletHub said. “That’s especially true during the current period of high inflation, as money is tight for many people.”
Salt Lake City, home to the University of Utah, ranked No. 17 overall in the United States, earning notable praise for the capital city’s social environment. WalletHub ranked Salt Lake’s social environment No. 28 overall while its wallet friendliness and opportunities scored slightly above average.
According to the U’s tuition cost estimate, for residents, an academic year is $9,000 while the price tag comes in just over $30,000 for non-Utah residents.
Provo, home to Brigham Young University, ranked No. 7 overall and notably ranked second in the nation for the lowest cost of higher education. Provo scored particularly well in wallet friendliness and academic and economic opportunities, ranking No. 25 and No. 73 respectively. The BYU city ranked just above average in social environment.
BYU’s tuition for an undergraduate degree comes in at $6,300 for Latter-Day Saints. For non-Latter-Day Saints, an undergraduate degree comes in at a relatively affordable $12,600.
Utah Valley University is found in the city of Orem, which ranked No. 12 overall, earning WalletHub praise for its academic and economic opportunities (No. 23). The UVU ranked above average for its wallet friendliness (No. 134), but below average for its social environment (No. 270).
Utah residents for UVU can expect to pay just over $5,600 a year for tuition while non-resident costs spike to just over $17,000.
When considering where to get a higher education, one WalletHub expert, Becket Duncan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Higher Education at the University of Denver, said it’s important for families and students to consider surrounding environments.
“Universities are no longer isolated enclaves excluded from their city,” said Duncan. “They are influenced by the demographics, economics, and physicality of the area. Students should look to see what relationship exists between the city and its university.”
For students looking to keep the costs of higher education to a minimum, Duncan said staying in-state historically keeps overall costs at a minimum. Attending in-state college has the added benefit of keeping resources and funds in the state, according to Duncan.