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Most affordable college towns in the U.S.


Edinburg, home to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, ranks as the most wallet-friendly college town, according to WalletHub’s “Best College Towns and Cities in America” study.

To determine the most affordable college towns, WalletHub evaluated 415 cities of various sizes that had a college or university population of at least 7,500 students. Several factors were used to rank the cities, including housing costs; monthly fitness club fees; the average price of pizza, burgers, movies and bowling; and the cost of higher education.

Edinburg is located in southern Texas and has a population of around 104,300. Nearly 30% of its residents are younger than 18, according to the latest available Census data. The median household income is around $53,000 and median rent is about $850, per the Census.

Numerous other Texas cities made WalletHub’s list as well. Brownsville came in third place, McAllen and Nacogdoches ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, and Killeen came in ninth place.

Here are the most affordable college cities and towns, according to WalletHub:

College towns aren’t just for students

When deciding where to attend college, the surrounding community is an important factor to consider.

“You have to think about what resources the town has and what resources you have,” Kelly McFaden, a University of North Georgia professor, says in WalletHub’s report.

 “For example, if you don’t have a car and you’re contemplating attending a university in a town without decent public transit, are you going to be able to get around and conduct the daily business of life?” she says.

But college towns aren’t just for students — they can be great for families and retirees as well.

Universities can offer a variety of quality, low-cost activities such as sports games, plays, concerts and lectures that the local community can enjoy.

“Many college towns have a strong orientation toward students. You can typically find affordable dining and entertainment, and the cost of living is often reasonable,” Michael T. Miller, a University of Arkansas professor, says in WalletHub’s study.

And there’s an often overlooked benefit of living in a college town: the predictability of the school year.

Since the beginning and end of the semester usually falls around the same time from year to year, people living in the community can easily make plans around when students are on or off campus, Miller says.

“I personally love a good college/university town given the excitement and options related to arts, athletics and overall cultural experiences,” Vicki L. Baker, an Albion College professor, says in WalletHub’s report. “You are never at a loss for fun activities or academic and life enrichment with little to no travel required.”

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