In the United States, a state college or state university is one of the public colleges or universities funded by or associated with the state government. In some cases, these institutions of higher learning are part of a state university system, while in other cases they are not. Several U.S. territories also administer public colleges and universities. The U.S. federal government does not run colleges or universities except for the service academies, the Community College of the Air Force, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, military war colleges and staff colleges, and Haskell Indian Nations University. Additionally, Georgetown University, Gallaudet University, Howard University, and American University are private universities that are federally chartered. However, the federal government does make grants to state universities.
These state, as well as private, universities are accredited by different regional, not national, accreditation agencies, including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, depending on which region of the United States the university is located in. These accreditation agencies’ approvals are critical to a university’s operations and public reputation. If a university loses accreditation or is not accredited in the first place, students will be reluctant to either continue or enroll at the school because the degree will be seen as being worthless. In a worst-case scenario, a university can shut down completely. The aforementioned agencies are all recognized by the United States Department of Education.
Most state universities receive at least part of their funding from the state, although many have substantial income from tuition and fees, endowment proceeds, donations (such as from alumni or philanthropists), and revenue from royalties. State universities usually offer lower tuition costs to in-state residents. According to the College Board, public four-year colleges charge on average $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for full-time in-state students and $11,990 for out-of-state students.
In some states, e.g. Maryland, Tennessee, Indiana, and Washington, there is a campus designated as the “flagship” campus in the state’s university system, which generally is the most prestigious campus and the largest campus in student population, e.g. the University of Maryland College Park campus in the University System of Maryland, the Indiana University Bloomington campus in the Indiana University System, the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus in the University of Tennessee System, and the University of Washington’s Seattle campus in the University of Washington System.
However, in some other states, the state universities are treated as equal partners; therefore there is no officially recognized flagship campus in the state’s university system.
There are a number of states that have more than one university system, e.g. California with 2; Colorado with 2; New York with 2; and Texas with 6.