Known as the “Sunshine State,” it’s no wonder why Florida’s population grows every year. People of all ages flock to its beautiful shorelines, outdoor activities, and eclectic culture that makes it so unique.
Florida is also a region of expansion with regard to competitive academics. Prospective students will find many of the nation’s most affordable college options here, in particular those with a smaller campus community.
The following list is a ranking of the best small college deals in Florida. This selection of schools results from an in-depth, strategic research process regarding key features in a degree worthy of investment.
In the process of ranking Florida’s top small colleges, points were awarded based on affordability, tuition return on investment, student-to-faculty ratio, faculty expertise, alumni engagement, public recognition, career placement availability, and any additional distinctions that added particular value to the college’s degree offerings.
These top 20 Florida colleges scored the highest among approximately 110 schools; this initial pool had a net price of under $34,000 USD and a total student enrollment of below 8,000. Primary sources for this data included College Navigator, Niche, and Payscale.
The schools profiled below are ranked in order of points earned. In the event of a tie in points, the schools with the lower net price are ranked higher.
#20 – Rasmussen College
Total Enrollment: 7,367
Net Price: $17,191
Rasmussen College in Ocala is a quality education at an affordable tuition. Widely considered one of the best small colleges in Florida, this school provides a unique amount of flexibility for all who wish to earn their degree. Students can participate in online, traditional, or a combination of both classroom environments. RC courses cover specialized field areas that include design, business, education, nursing, technology, and health sciences. In recent surveys, graduates of Rasmussen College have given particularly positive ratings regarding the school’s faculty and career placement resources.
#19 – Northwest Florida State College
Total Enrollment: 5,905
Net Price: $8,667
One of Florida’s most affordable small schools, Northwest Florida State College has over 1,000 courses available in flexible learning formats. NFSC has a consistent average class size of eighteen, with the majority of professors holding doctorates in their respective fields. This college’s undergraduate majors include degree opportunities in early childhood education, management supervision, nursing, project management, and teacher education. Additionally, there is a wide selection of associate’s and specialized certification programs. Recent alumni of this college have found that a degree from Northwest Florida has led to career-related employment almost immediately after graduation.
#18 – Gulf Coast State College
Panama City, Florida
Total Enrollment: 2,701
Net Price: $21,804
On a beautiful campus settled along the water, Gulf Coast State College is one of the most affordable colleges in Florida. GCSC offers over 150 study concentrations; some of the most popular fields include entrepreneurship, nursing and health services, emergency services administration, digital media, and technology management. This college holds a combination of online and traditional courses, making earning a degree flexible and convenient for the working professional. Recent graduates have reported high satisfaction ratings regarding the school’s faculty expertise, financial aid process, and career-related work placement.
#17 – Florida Memorial University
Miami Gardens, Florida
Total Enrollment: 1,467
Net Price: $14,969
Among the 39 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund, Florida Memorial University is a historically Black Baptist institution that ranks ninth in the nation for graduating African-American teachers. FMU has a small, tight-knit campus community that celebrates the individual talents of its students. One of best college deals in Florida, this school offers 41 undergraduate degrees and four master’s programs; some of these degrees include humanities, music, psychology, law and government, business, nursing, and many more. Over 90% of incoming Florida Memorial students receive financial aid packages in the form of scholarships, grants or federal assistance.
#16 – College of Central Florida
Total Enrollment: 7,452
Net Price: $6,746
Ranked twentieth in the nation for affordability, the College of Central Florida makes higher education possible for all who pursue a degree. This institution is known to have a vibrant campus community, small class sizes, and a wide range of academic resources, in part through its partnership with the University of Central Florida. This top college deal in Florida offers curriculum in subject areas that encompass criminal justice, health sciences, business and technology, liberal arts, and teacher education. Notable alumni of CF include current members of both the Florida senate and house of representatives.
#15 – Southeastern University
Boca Raton, Florida
Total Enrollment: 4,538
Net Price: $21,342
A Christ-centered liberal arts school, Southeastern University is considered one of the best small colleges in the state of Florida. SEU’s academic offerings are organized in six specialized colleges; these colleges include arts and media, behavioral and social sciences, natural and health studies, business and legal studies, education, and Christian ministries. SEU receives especially high satisfaction marks regarding the school’s financial aid process and well-connected alumni network. Southeastern University has a $126,000 return-on-investment, and the COMPASS Center for Calling and Career assures graduates find the future they seek.
#14 – Florida Polytechnic University
Total Enrollment: 924
Net Price: $15,261
One of the newest colleges on our list, Florida Polytechnic University is a modern, extremely selective college with a student body of under 1,000. This institution is poised to prepare future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). FPU has state-of-the-art resources and innovation laboratories, all designed for students to have a “hands-on” educational experience. Additionally, this top Florida college has a rapidly growing number of research partnerships on regional, national, and global scales; a few of these high-profile partnering companies include CISCO and Publix.
#13 – Rollins College
Winter Park, Florida
Total Enrollment: 3,260
Net Price: $33,191
Recognized for its progressive-minded educational experience, Rollins College is considered one of the best small college deals in Florida. This institution offers three options for students to earn or advance their degree; these options include the college of arts, sciences and professional studies, Hamilton Holt school (for evening courses), and Crummer Graduate School of Business. Rollins boasts a 79% overall graduation rate, indicating high satisfaction levels of the student experience. This college also has extensive financial aid resources in order to make tuition attainable to all accepted students.
#12 – Jacksonville University
Total Enrollment: 4,048
Net Price: $26,988
Since 1934, Jacksonville University has been a leader in rigorous academics and top-notch degree programs. JU is made up of six colleges that include arts and sciences, fine arts, education, healthcare sciences, business, and orthodontics. Additionally, Jacksonville has the nation’s second largest Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, and the aviation program provides flight training to those enrolled. One of the best small college deals in Florida, JU has an impressive range of scholarship opportunities in the form of private grant funding, federal, and state assistance.
#11 – Florida Southern College
Total Enrollment: 2,869
Net Price: $24,589
Rich with history and tradition, Florida Southern is the oldest 4-year private college in the state. FSC emphasizes the value of “engaged learning” and was recently honored with the William B. Burke Presidential Award for “Excellence in Experiential Education.” This college has over 50 choices of major in field disciplines related to fine arts, biology, music, humanities, nursing, accounting, marketing, any many more. Florida Southern is known to have strong connections to promising internships; students have secured roles at high profile companies including FOX, ESPN, Geico, NASA, and many more.
#10 – University of Tampa
St. Petersburg, Florida
Total Enrollment: 7,959
Net Price: $28,203
With world-class academics and distinguished faculty, the University of Tampa is a small college with large campus resources. Among its over 200 available areas of study, the most popular majors include biology, finance, communication, criminology, nursing, marine science, and sport management. UT commits to a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, and none of the courses are led by teaching assistants. Among the best college deals in Florida, students report high satisfaction ratings regarding the education quality, career placement services, internship options, and level of camaraderie in the campus community.
#9 – Johnson & Wales University – North Miami
North Miami, Florida
Total Enrollment: 1,752
Net Price: $23,621
Serving nearly 1,800 students, Johnson & Wales University in North Miami is a top small college deal in Florida. For students pursuing a promising start to their career, JWU has academic programs for many field areas of interest; some of these field areas include business, arts and sciences, criminal justice, fashion, hospitality, and an associate’s in culinary arts. This institution recognizes its high achieving students, awarding over $62 million in National Student Organization (NSO) scholarships. Johnson & Wales North Miami has multiple employment networking events, and graduates have found the college to be successful in career placement services.
#8 – Flagler College – St. Augustine
Saint Augustine, Florida
Total Enrollment: 2,701
Net Price: $21,804
Located in scenic St. Augustine, Flagler College is a small, distinguished college with an affordable tuition. Flagler has exciting curriculum options that span field areas, including art and design, business, communication, natural sciences, sport management, among many more. This top Florida college celebrates the innovative mind, and its very own student entrepreneurial team has won three national championships. Recent graduate satisfaction surveys have indicated high marks in quality of education, ease of financial aid process, and workload manageability. Flagler College has a respected alumni association that regularly connects undergraduates to career opportunities.
#7 – Hodges University
Total Enrollment: 1,723
Net Price: $17,920
Especially designed for the adult professional advancing their education, Hodges University is a low-tuition Florida college. This institution offers flexible course scheduling in degree areas that include technology, business, professional studies, liberal arts, and health. Additionally, Hodges is well known for its comprehensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which is an invaluable resource for those who wish to become fluent. HU also has a career counseling program that has received high satisfaction ratings from recent graduates. Hodges works with all incoming students regarding how best to finance their education; financial aid packages are awarded in the form of scholarships, grants, and work-study arrangements.
#6 – Stetson University
Total Enrollment: 4,330
Net Price: $24,787
A liberal arts college that celebrates the independent thinker, Stetson University consistently ranks among the best small college deals in Florida. This school’s vibrant academic community prepares graduates eager to engage in free expression, critical thinking, and collaboration. Stetson has degree programs in specialized fields such as arts and sciences, law, business administration, and music. 95% of Stetson professors have the highest possible degrees in their field, and with a 13:1 student to faculty ratio, degree-seekers receive the maximum benefits of their expertise.
#5 – Palm Beach Atlantic University
West Palm Beach, Florida
Total Enrollment: 3,918
Net Price: $22,358
A faith-based institution that welcomes over 26 denominations, Palm Beach Atlantic University is a liberal arts college with high academic standards. PBAU strives to develop an environment that tends to both the mind and spirit, engaging students in challenging curriculum and a diverse range of hands-on community activities. Considered one of the best small college deals in Florida, Palm Beach Atlantic’s West Palm location is not only beautiful, but also in close proximity with Fortune 500 companies. Recent data has shown that a large percentage of these companies have hired PBAU students for internships and full-time rewarding positions.
#4 – Eckerd College
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Total Enrollment: 2,023
Net Price: $31,902
Saint Petersburg’s Eckerd College has an affordable higher education with promising degree options. This school is particularly well respected for its programs in chemistry, environmental studies, international business, marine science, and creative writing. Placing high value on a manageable workload, Eckerd’s 4-1-4 academic calendar includes a one-month January term where students focus on a single course. This top small college deal in Florida has a freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of over 80%, and recent data has shown a tuition return-on-investment of $126,000. Eckerd College is known to have an enthusiastic alumni network that engages regularly with undergraduates.
#3 – Barry University
Total Enrollment: 7,971
Net Price: $24,660
Since 1940, Barry University of Miami has been a leading Catholic school in the Southeast, and one of the most affordable college deals in Florida. This institution’s wide range of academics includes liberal arts, health sciences, nursing, and teacher education programs. BU strives to educate its students as unique individuals; in order to maximize this personalized education, Barry maintains a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Graduates of BU’s nursing, business, and law programs report particularly high employment rates in their career of choice; recent data reveals an impressive $290,000 tuition return-on-investment.
#2 – University of South Florida – St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Florida
Total Enrollment: 4,739
Net Price: $10,461
Consistently ranked among Florida’s best affordable small colleges, the University of South Florida boasts a resource-rich higher education. USFSP offers challenging curriculum in academic field areas including journalism, anthropology, political science, business, arts, education, and more. Additionally, this college has immersive research opportunities that have led to coveted internship positions at NASA and the White House. Making every effort to keep tuition attainable, the University of South Florida has expansive, diverse scholarship and grant programs for which all students are considered.
#1 – Florida Institute of Technology
Total Enrollment: 6,631
Net Price: $32,319
Globally respected and highly selective, the Florida Institute of Technology is a private academic community with students from around the world. This college’s six academic divisions focus on field areas including technology, engineering, mathematics, science, and aviation. Among the best small colleges in Florida, FIT has received accolades from virtually every publication in academia; some of these rankings have been awarded for superior education value, return on investment ($620,000), community service, and many more. Student satisfaction surveys have praised Florida Tech for its knowledgeable faculty and successful career placement programs.
The ranked list above represents the top 20 deals on small colleges in Florida.