There aren’t many cities in the United States as populous and as expansive as Houston, Texas. Nicknamed Space City for housing the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, it is also where you will find the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical complex. The city, thanks to its 300-plus parks, has a larger total area of green space than any of the country’s 10 most populous cities. It is also home to the most ethnically diverse community in the state of Texas.

Houston can be a great place for you to pursue higher education as it provides you with a bunch of affordable-yet-quality options. That is probably why it claims a spot in the top 100 list of the QS Best Student Cities 2019, ranking 12th nationally.

While Rice University is the highest-ranked institution in Houston, it charges twice as much tuition, or even more, compared to what several other universities in the city are charging. If you want to study in Houston with a limited budget, this article will help you! Below, you will find a list of five cheap universities that are located in Houston and its neighboring areas. 

What are the Requirements to Study in Universities in Houston?

As an international student in Houston, universities will usually require you to present your academic requirements, language proficiency tests results, and visa documents. During your application process, you will need to submit them beforehand. If there are any specific requirements for your degree, kindly check your chosen university’s website.

Can International Students Have Scholarships in Houston?

Yes! The universities in Houston have scholarships, financial awards and discounts offered to international students. But they can be limited. So, if you plan to study and get a scholarship to a university in Houston, please make sure to complete and apply early.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Cheapest Universities in Houston

1. Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is a public university belonging to the Texas State University System. It was founded in 1879 as Sam Houston Normal Institute and has been awarding bachelor’s degrees since 1919. Through its seven colleges, this university in Houston offers more than 175 academic programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Its main campus is sited in Huntsville, which is around 70 miles north of Houston. Its total enrollment stands at over 21,000, with nearly 600 academic staff employed to facilitate higher education.

At SHSU, the expense of education for out-of-state and international students is pretty low compared to that at most other Texan universities. On top of that, it offers several financial aid options for students, such as scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.

2. University of Houston

The University of Houston (UH) began its journey in 1927 as Houston Junior College and went on to become a full-fledged university in 1934. It is the University of Houston System’s flagship institution. Its urban main campus occupies 667 acres of land in southeast Houston. The public research university offers 108 undergrad majors and minors, 104 master’s degrees, and 46 PhD programs through its 14 colleges. It has 46,000-plus students who are taught by 2,700-plus academic staff. Jack Valenti, creator of the MPAA rating system, and Rod Canion, co-founder of Compaq, graduated from this university.  

In terms of tuition, UH is the most expensive option in the University of Houston System. But that makes sense as this institution is also the most prestigious member of the state university system. Additionally, the university awards millions of dollars annually to its students in the form of scholarships, loans, grants, fellowships, and work-study opportunities.  

3. University of Houston-Downtown

University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is another member of the University of Houston System, with its 20-acre main campus positioned in downtown Houston. Founded in 1974, the public university is currently home to over 14,500 students. This cheap university in Houston consists of five colleges that employ a total of more than 5,000 academic staff. The total number of academic programs offered here is 52, which includes 44 undergraduate degrees and eight master’s degrees.

At UHD, the tuitions for in-state students are pretty low compared to that at other universities in Houston – or for that matter, in Texas. Moreover, most students receive one kind of financial assistance or another. Each year, the university spends an average of $10,000 in financial assistance to approximately 80 percent of its full-time students. This financial assistance is provided in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans.

4. Prairie View A&M University

Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is a public university that came into being in 1876. Its main campus encompasses 1,440 acres of land in Prairie View, a city on the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area’s northwestern edge. Its total enrolment is a little below 10,000. The total number of academic staff is over 400. Through its seven colleges and one school, the historically black university facilitates a variety of academic programs. These programs at this cheap university in Houston include 50 bachelor’s degree majors, 37 master’s programs, and four PhD programs. 

The tuition at PVAMU may seem to be a tad higher than that at the universities mentioned above. But the university belonging to the Texas A&M University System provides around 82 percent of its students with some form of financial aid, including scholarships, loans, grants, exemptions, and waivers. It is one of the 47 members of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), which supports and represents about 300,000 students in the United States.

5. University of Houston-Clear Lake

University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) is a public university whose main campus spans 524 acres in the Texan cities of Houston and Pasadena. It was established in 1971 as a part of the University of Houston System. The 97 academic programs offered here include 46 bachelor’s, 48 master’s, and three PhD programs. The university is organized into four academic colleges, employing nearly 750 academic staff. The student population is north of 9,000, of which six percent are international students. Its notable alumni include first African-American astronaut Guion Bluford, and Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan.

UHCL’s tuitions, especially for out-of-state and international students, are higher than several other universities. But the good news is that it has several financial aid options. This cheap university in Houston offers primarily four types of financial aid to its students: merit-based scholarships, need-based grants, loans, and work-study. Two out of three students were recipients of either of these financial aid in the academic year of 2018.


I hope that this article on cheap universities in Houston was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!