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The Best Colleges With Low GPA Requirements


Do you have a low GPA? Are you wondering what colleges you can get into despite your low GPA?

Out of all the schools in the country, we've compiled a complete list of colleges with low GPA requirements and ranked the best ones. Even if you have a low GPA, that doesn't mean a great education is out of reach for you. Keep reading to figure out what your options are for higher education.


The Big Picture: What You Can Do With a Low GPA

If you are looking at your low GPA with worry, let us reassure you: you can absolutely get a great education no matter what college you end up going to.

For example, did you know that the vast majority of people profiled in Forbes Magazine's list of "30 under 30" (basically a list of about 450 young entrepreneurs, artists, and inventors who are making a name for themselves in a bunch of different fields) went to their local or state college? And not only that, but most of them actually found their business partners there as well!

Yes, the old line is totally true: it's up to you to make the most of where you are. How? Well, for one, you can research classes and professors by asking your advisors and friends or by looking at online reviews. No matter where they teach, most professors tend to love their subject—after all, they've devoted their whole life to studying it!—so seek them out during office hours. Trust me, they'll love to talk with you!

Now, let us show you the many choices and possibilities open to you, even if you didn't put your best foot forward in high school. Read on to learn about the following:

  • Colleges that have alternative applications, some of which do not even require a transcript
  • University systems in which you can transfer from one campus to another
  • Great state schools with less competitive admission requirements


What's a Low GPA for College?

First, we should clarify what we mean by a low GPA. The definition of a low GPA depends heavily on your personal goals and target colleges, but a general rule of thumb is that any GPA below a 3.0 puts you in the lower range for most colleges in the country.

According to data from TACT research (reported by ThinkImpact), the average high school GPA is 3.0. But remember that many high school students also don't go to college. Thus, the ones who do go to college usually end up having higher GPAs. As you'll see below, the average GPA of lower-tier colleges is in the 2.9-3.3 range.

GPA can also be complicated because of unweighted and weighted GPAs, and how colleges consider the difficulty of your coursework. Even if you have a low GPA, you can compensate for it if you took a difficult course load, as colleges will reward you for your academic ambition.

Here are a few guides you might want to check out as you read this article:

Finally, keep in mind that even with a low GPA, you still have a great shot at getting into college if you do well on the SAT/ACT. If a low GPA doesn't represent your academic potential well, you can show colleges your true ability through tests that are standardized throughout the country.



Maybe your GPA is hiding you behind a mask?



Does Your GPA Not Show the Real You?

If you have a low GPA but know that you are capable of so much more, some colleges now give you a totally different way to apply! For instance, the colleges below offer students alternative ways to showcase their skills that don't focus on your GPA:

  • Bennington College: Similar deal here in that there's no need to submit a transcript or test scores. Instead, you'll turn in a self-curated collection of your work that speaks to your creative and intellectual abilities.
  • Bard College: Even though Bard still requires a transcript, Bard has now instituted a college-specific admissions exam for all students. It bypasses the SAT/ACT, but still gives students a chance to show they're qualified to attend Bard. The test has 19 essay questions in four categories: Social Studies; Languages and Literature; Arts; and Science, Mathematics, and Computing. Students will pick three essay questions and write 2,500 word responses to each. 



Just ... a ... little ... longer!


Do You Need More Time to Prove Yourself?

If you just need a little more time to demonstrate what you can do, think about applying to a less competitive campus of a state university system. You can then transfer to a more rigorous campus in the same system.

Below is our list of the least competitive campuses in larger and more competitive state university systems. In this chart, we've included the average GPA of admitted applicants as well as the current acceptance rate for each school. (Pro tip: click the school names to see your chances of getting in with our Admissions Calculator!)

School Average GPA Admission Rate
Indiana University Northwest 3.14 85%
Louisiana State University Shreveport 3.38 71%
SUNY Cobleskill 3.1 81%
Texas A&M Corpus Christi 3.41 91%
University of Arkansas at Little Rock 3.42 58%
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 3.36 95%
University of Illinois at Chicago 3.4 79%
University of Louisiana at Monroe 3.53 69%
University of Maine at Presque Isle 3.00 99%
University of Maryland Eastern Shore 3.07 62%
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 3.37 92%
University of Michigan at Flint 3.54 74%
University of Minnesota Crookston 3.28 48%
University of Missouri Kansas City 3.54 76%
University of Nebraska at Kearney 3.24 73%
University of North Carolina at Pembroke 3.44 92%
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford 3.31 76%
University of South Carolina Beaufort 3.85 83%
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 3.51 86%
University of Texas at Tyler 3.42 94%
University of Washington Tacoma 3.41 83%
University of Wisconsin Parkside 3.31 89%



A name-brand school = a little bling for your resume.


Do You Want a Name-Brand School?

If you would still like to go to a high-profile school but don't see yourself transferring, state colleges are your best bet. Check out these accessible state college systems with fairly low GPA requirements on all of their campuses:

  • California State University
  • Connecticut State University
  • University of Hawaii
  • Massachusetts State University system
  • University of Nevada
  • The CUNY system in NYC
  • The Oregon University system (not to be confused with the University of Oregon)
  • University of Rhode Island



I'll just point my compass at a random point on this globe and go to college there!


List of Colleges With Low GPAs by State

If you have an idea of where you want to end up geographically speaking, then you're in luck. Here is a comprehensive list of colleges sorted by state. For each state, the schools are listed alphabetically and are accompanied by their average GPAs for admitted applicants.


Alabama State University 2.95
Oakwood University 2.99
Stillman College 2.90
Talladega College 2.40
Tuskegee University 3.10



University of Alaska Fairbanks 3.28
University of Alaska Southeast 2.94



Prescott College 3.19
University of Advancing Technology 2.50



Arkansas Baptist College 2.60
Arkansas Tech University 3.37
Henderson State University 3.23
Philander Smith College 3.04
Southern Arkansas University 3.46
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith 3.39
University of Arkansas at Little Rock 3.42
University of Arkansas at Monticello 2.71
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 2.90
Williams Baptist University 3.20



Biola University 3.61
California College of the Arts 3.34
California State University Bakersfield 3.30
California State University Channel Islands 3.22
California State University Dominguez Hills 3.16
California State University East Bay 3.20
California State University Los Angeles 3.31
California State University San Bernardino 3.41
California State University Stanislaus 3.47
Columbia College Hollywood 3.20
Hope International University 3.26
California Polytechnic University Humboldt 3.33
La Sierra University 3.54
Laguna College of Art + Design 3.69
Life Pacific University 2.91
Lincoln University 2.60
Menlo College 3.20
Northwestern Polytechnic University 2.72
Otis College of Art and Design 3.17
San Diego Christian College 3.26
San Francisco Art Institute 3.05
San Francisco State University 3.31
Sonoma State University 3.40
Vanguard University of Southern California 3.31
William Jessup University 3.33
Woodbury University 3.33



Adams State College 3.20
Colorado Mesa University 3.28
Colorado State University - Pueblo 3.30
Fort Lewis College 3.30
Johnson & Wales University 3.19
Metropolitan State University of Denver 3.03
Naropa University 3.42



Albertus Magnus College 3.11
Central Connecticut State University 3.20
Eastern Connecticut State University 3.40
Post University 2.68
Southern Connecticut State University 3.20
University of Bridgeport 3.04
University of Hartford 3.26
Western Connecticut State University 3.38



Delaware State University 3.09
Goldey-Beacom College 2.90
Wesley College 2.71


District of Columbia

Gallaudet University 3.30
Howard University 3.66



Beacon College 3.20
Bethune-Cookman University 3.30
Carlos Albizu University - Miami 2.80
Edward Waters University 2.64
Florida Memorial University 2.70
Jacksonville University 3.61
Johnson University Florida 3.09
Lynn University 3.30
Ringling College of Art and Design 3.48
Rollins College 3.30
Trinity College of Florida 3.06
Warner University 3.22
Webber International University 2.98



Albany State University 2.77
Beulah Heights University 3.00
Brewton-Parker College 3.00
Clark Atlanta University 3.28
Clayton State University 3.00
Columbus State University 3.07
Dalton State College 3.10
Fort Valley State University 2.87
Georgia Gwinnett College 2.88
Georgia Southwestern State University 3.17
Life University 3.11
Luther Rice College & Seminary 2.55
Morehouse College 3.20
Paine College 2.58
Point University 3.41
Reinhardt University 3.25
Savannah State University 2.77
Shorter University 3.25
University of West Georgia 3.31
Valdosta State University 3.23
University of West Georgia 3.31



University of Hawaii - West Oahu 3.41



Idaho State University 3.41
Lewis-Clark State College 3.23



Augustana College 3.30
Blessing-Reiman College of Nursing 3.29
Chicago State University 3.18
Columbia College Chicago 3.41
Concordia University Chicago 3.18
East-West University 2.67
Eastern Illinois University 3.39
Eureka College 3.22
Kendall College 2.93
Monmouth College 3.49
National Louis University 2.80
North Park University 3.14
Northeastern Illinois University 3.10
Northern Illinois University 3.30
Principia College 3.34
Quincy University 3.47
Rockford University 3.25
Southern Illinois University Carbondale 3.24
Trinity Christian College 3.48
University of Illinois at Chicago 3.40
VanderCook College of Music 3.10
Western Illinois University 3.45



Calumet College of St. Joseph 2.75
Holy Cross College 3.20
Indiana State University 3.29
Indiana University East 3.41
Indiana University Kokomo 3.29
Indiana University Northwest 3.41
Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne 3.52
Indiana University South Bend 3.24
Indiana University Southeast 3.31
Oakland City University 3.29
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 3.30
University of Southern Indiana 3.45
University of St. Francis 3.47



Briar Cliff University 3.21
Graceland University 3.22
Grand View University 3.33
Iowa Wesleyan College 3.02
St. Ambrose University 3.39
University of Dubuque 3.24
Upper Iowa University 3.14
Waldorf College 3.07
William Penn University 3.00



Bethany College 3.16
Central Christian College of Kansas 3.24
McPherson College 3.33
MidAmerica Nazarene University 3.29
Ottawa University 3.12
Pittsburg State University 3.40
Southwestern College 3.23
Sterling College 3.46
Tabor College 3.23
University of St. Mary 3.36



Brescia University 3.02
Campbellsville University 3.36
Eastern Kentucky University 3.39
Kentucky Christian University 3.16
Kentucky State University 2.72
Kentucky Wesleyan College 3.30
Lindsey Wilson College 3.41
Midway University 3.39
Union College 3.15
University of Pikeville 3.42
Western Kentucky University 3.42



Dillard University 3.31
Grambling State University 3.01
Louisiana College 3.35
Louisiana State University Shreveport 3.38
Nicholls State University 3.3o
Northwestern State University of Louisiana 3.30
Saint Joseph Seminary College 3.25
Southeastern Louisiana University 3.39
Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College 3.10
Southern University at New Orleans 2.40
University of Louisiana at Lafayette 3.34
University of New Orleans 3.21



Husson University 3.40
St. Joseph's College of Maine 3.00
Unity College 3.30
University of Maine 3.42
University of Maine at Farmington 3.15
University of Maine at Presque Isle 3.00
University of Southern Maine 3.33



Bowie State University 3.12
Coppin State University 2.62
Frostburg State University 3.50
Goucher College 3.23
Hood College 3.41
Morgan State University 3.10
Mount St. Mary's University 3.36
Stevenson University 3.10
University of Baltimore 2.89
University of Maryland Eastern Shore 3.07



American International College 2.91
Anna Maria College 2.94
Assumption University 3.45
Berklee College of Music 3.00
Bridgewater State University 3.21
Curry College 3.01
Elms College 3.42
Fitchburg State University 3.29
Framingham State University 3.07
Lasell University 3.12
Lesley University 3.31
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 3.20
Massachusetts Maritime Academy 3.25
Merrimack College 3.30
Montserrat College of Art 2.93
Nichols College 2.90
Regis College 3.38
Salem State University 3.28
Springfield College 3.56
Suffolk University 3.33
University of Massachusetts Boston 3.43
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 3.27
Wentworth Institute of Technology 3.39
Westfield State University 3.30
Worcester State University 3.30



Adrian College 3.22
College for Creative Studies 3.19
Concordia University Ann Arbor 3.19
Davenport University 3.30
Eastern Michigan University 3.37
Finlandia University 2.89
Kuyper College 2.98
Lake Superior State University 3.16
Madonna University 3.35
Northern Michigan University 3.33
Siena Heights University 3.32



Augsburg College 3.17
Bemidji State University 3.26
Bethany Lutheran College 3.51
Concordia University Saint Paul 3.14
Crown College 3.22
Minneapolis College of Art and Design 3.29
Minnesota State University Mankato 3.37
Oak Hills Christian College 3.07
St. Cloud State University 3.26
University of Minnesota, Crookston 3.28



Alcorn State University 3.20
Blue Mountain College 3.52
Delta State University 3.37
Jackson State University 3.10
Mississippi Valley State University 2.90
Rust College 2.66
Tougaloo College 2.80
University of Southern Mississippi 3.50



Avila University 3.24
Culver-Stockton College 3.37
Harris-Stowe State University 3.04
Lincoln University 2.75
Lindenwood University 3.42
Missouri Baptist University 3.40
Missouri Southern State University 3.50
Missouri Valley College 3.04
Missouri Western State University 3.25
Park University 3.20
St. Louis Christian College 2.52
Stephens College 3.27



Montana State University—Billings 3.30
Montana State University—Northern 2.79
University of Great Falls 3.20
University of Montana Western 3.20




Midland University 3.26
Nebraska Christian College 2.91
Union College 3.44
Wayne State College 3.36



Sierra Nevada College 3.29


New Hampshire

Colby-Sawyer College 3.30
Franklin Pierce University 2.97
Keen State College 2.98
New England College 2.59
Plymouth State University 3.08
Saint Anselm College 3.39
Southern New Hampshire University 3.18


New Jersey

Bloomfield College 2.69
Caldwell University 3.30
Saint Elizabeth University 2.60
Fairleigh Dickinson University 3.31
Felician University 3.05
Kean University 3.20
Monmouth University 3.57
Montclair State University 3.30
New Jersey City University 3.24
Saint Peter's University 3.31
William Paterson University 3.92


New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University 3.23
New Mexico Highlands University 3.30
University of the Southwest 2.63
Western New Mexico University 2.50


New York

Alfred University 3.40
Brooklyn College (CUNY) 3.42
Cazenovia College 3.29
City College of New York 3.20
College of Mount St. Vincent 3.09
Culinary Institute of America 3.26
CUNY College of Staten Island 3.00
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice 3.24
Davis College 3.18
Dominican College 3.09
Elmira College 3.22
Farmingdale State College 3.26
Hilbert College 3.20
Houghton College 3.25
Iona College 3.40
LIM College 2.90
Long Island University Brooklyn 3.20
Long Island University Post 3.36
Manhattanville College 3.19
Marist College 3.56
Mercy College 3.19
Metropolitan College of New York 2.10
Molloy College 3.20
Mount St. Mary College 3.30
New York Institute of Technology 3.50
Nyack College 2.76
Paul Smith's College 2.80
School of Visual Arts 3.37
St. Joseph's College—Brooklyn Campus 3.28
St. Thomas Aquinas College 3.30
SUNY Albany 3.30
SUNY College at Brockport 2.78
SUNY Buffalo State College 2.84
SUNY Cobleskill 3.10
SUNY College at Old Westbury 3.10
SUNY Fredonia 3.30
SUNY Maritime College 3.40
SUNY Plattsburgh 3.11
SUNY at Purchase (Purchase College) 3.11
Touro College 3.17
Utica College 3.30
Wells College 3.25


North Carolina

Barton College 3.25
Brevard College 3.07
Chowan University 2.89
Elizabeth City State University 3.16
Guilford College 3.14
High Point University 3.40
Lenoir-Rhyne University 3.41
Livingstone College 2.32
Mars Hill University 3.50
Methodist University 3.58
Mid-Atlantic Christian University 3.09
Montreat College 3.07
Mount Olive College 2.85
North Carolina Central University 3.27
North Carolina Wesleyan College 3.20
Pfeiffer University 3.18
Piedmont International University 3.00
Shaw University 2.60
St. Andrews University 3.13
Winston-Salem State University 3.01


North Dakota

Dickinson State University 3.28
Mayville State University 3.14
Minot State University 3.42
Valley City State University 3.31



Art Academy of Cincinnati 3.10
Bluffton University 3.26
Central State University 2.80
Cleveland Institute of Art 3.48
Defiance College 3.12
Heidelberg University 3.33
Lake Erie College 3.09
Lourdes University 3.26
Malone University 3.49
Muskingum University 3.42
Notre Dame College 2.88
Ohio Dominican University 3.32
Shawnee State University 3.30
Tiffin University 3.11
University of Rio Grande 3.06
Ursuline College 3.46
Wilmington College 3.47
Wright State University 3.41



Cameron University 3.31
Langston University 2.79
Northwestern Oklahoma State University 3.42
Rogers State University 3.40
Southern Nazarene University 3.30
Southwestern Christian University 3.22



Multnomah University 3.25
Southern Oregon University 3.34
Warner Pacific College 3.25
Western Oregon University 3.36



Albright College 3.05
Alvernia University 3.41
Baptist Bible College and Seminary 3.31
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania 3.45
Cabrini College 3.14
Cairn University 3.31
California University of Pennsylvania 3.31
Chestnut Hill College 3.12
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 2.37
Delaware Valley College 3.46
DeSales University 3.39
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania 3.24
Edinboro University 3.56
Gwynedd-Mercy College 3.34
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology 3.42
Holy Family University 3.13
Immaculata University 3.50
Keystone College 2.92
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 3.31
La Roche College 3.20
Lancaster Bible College 3.10
Lincoln University 3.06
Lock Haven University 3.41
Millersville University of Pennsylvania 3.34
Moore College of Art and Design 3.24
Muhlenberg College 3.44
Neumann University 3.23
Penn State Abington 3.15
Penn State Altoona 3.13
Penn State Beaver 3.18
Penn State Berks 3.10
Penn State Brandywine 3.03
Penn State DuBois 3.17
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College 3.31
Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus 3.17
Penn State Greater Allegheny 3.17
Penn State Harrisburg 3.22
Penn State Hazleton 3.16
Penn State Lehigh Valley 3.16
Penn State Mont Alto 3.24
Penn State New Kensington 3.20
Penn State Schuylkill 2.93
Penn State Shenango 3.13
Penn State Worthington Scranton 3.10
Penn State York 3.13
Pennsylvania College of Art & Design 3.13
Pennsylvania College of Technology 3.05
Rosemont College 3.20
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania 3.23
Thiel College 3.10
University of Pittsburgh Bradford 3.28
Ursinus College 3.53
Valley Forge Military College 2.00


Puerto Rico

Bayamon Central University 3.22
Caribbean University 2.64
EDP University of Puerto Rico 2.95
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Aguadilla Campus 3.24
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Barranquitas Campus 3.12
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Bayamon Campus 3.26
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Fajardo Campus 2.00
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Guayama Campus 3.08
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Ponce Campus 2.75
Inter American University of Puerto Rico - San German Campus 3.28
Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico 2.00
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico 3.14
Universidad del Este 2.81
Universidad del Turabo 2.93
Universidad Metropolitana 2.84
University of Puerto Rico at Utuado 2.50
University of the Sacred Heart 2.99


Rhode Island

Bryant University 3.43
Roger Williams University 3.43


South Carolina

Claflin University 3.28
Limestone College 3.42
Morris College 2.57
South Carolina State University 3.17
University of South Carolina Upstate 2.23
Voorhees College 2.00


South Dakota

Black Hills State University 3.14
Dakota State University 3.33
National American University - Rapid City 3.10
Northern State University 3.30
Presentation College 3.37



Austin Peay State University 3.33
Bethel University 3.46
Cumberland University 3.30
Fisk University 3.10
Lane College 2.57
LeMoyne-Owen College 2.50
Tennessee State University 3.22
Welch College 3.34



Concordia University Texas 3.30
Criswell College 3.16
Dallas Christian College 3.06
Howard Payne University 3.30
Jarvis Christian College 2.77
Lamar University 3.40
Paul Quinn College 2.60
Prairie View A&M University 3.30
Southwestern Adventist University 3.30
Sul Ross State University 3.32
Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi 3.26
Texas College 2.90
Texas Southern University 3.00
Texas Woman's University 3.24
University of Texas at El Paso 3.30
Wayland Baptist University 3.14
Wiley College 2.53



Dixie State College 3.40
Neumont College of Computer Science 3.10
Weber State University 3.36



Castleton State College 3.00
Northern Vermont University—Johnson 3.32
Marlboro College 3.09
Norwich University 3.39
Southern Vermont College 2.35
Sterling College 3.10
Vermont Technical College 3.19



Averett University 3.07
Bluefield College 3.31
Ferrum College 3.14
Marymount University 3.38
Norfolk State University 2.90
Old Dominion University 3.30
Radford University 3.31
Virginia State University 2.85
Virginia Union University 2.71
Virginia Wesleyan College 3.39


U.S. Virgin Islands

University of the Virgin Islands 3.10



Central Washington University 3.08
Eastern Washington University 3.29
Evergreen State College 3.12
University of Washington Tacoma 3.41


West Virginia

Alderson-Broaddus University 3.20
Bethany College 3.16
Bluefield State College 3.41
Davis and Elkins College 3.35
Fairmont State University 3.29
Glenville State College 3.30
West Virginia State University 3.24



Alverno College 3.27
Beloit College 3.31
Cardinal Stritch University 3.16
Carthage College 3.36
Lakeland University 3.00
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design 3.08
Mount Mary University 3.13
Northland College 3.30
University of Wisconsin—Green Bay 3.16
University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee 3.16
University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh 3.24
University of Wisconsin—Parkside 3.31
University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point 3.27
University of Wisconsin—Stout 3.35
University of Wisconsin—Superior 3.32
University of Wisconsin—Whitewater 3.27



The Final Word: Colleges With Low GPA Requirements

As you can see, a low GPA—usually one around 3.0 or lower—doesn't have to disqualify you from some great colleges. In fact, many schools with low GPA requirements are popular, well-known state universities. By contrast, if you're a fan of smaller colleges, there are plenty of those, too, you can consider.

In addition, no matter where you are in the US, more than likely there's a school with low GPA requirements in or near the area you live (except Wyoming—sorry, guys!). Some states in the list above have far more schools than others; this is likely a result of population differences.

Finally, remember that even if your GPA is lower than what your school expects, you can increase your chance of acceptance by getting a high SAT/ACT score and submitting a great application!


What's Next?

What's a good GPA? A bad GPA? Here's a complete guide.

Want to see colleges that are even easier to get into? Take a look at our list of schools that admit almost everyone.

You know your GPA, but do you know your target test scores? Figure out what your target SAT or target ACT score should be for the colleges you're interested in.

Ready to learn more about the application process? Check out this handy infographic that lays it all out in detail.



Data on this page is sourced from Peterson's Databases © 2022 (Peterson's LLC, All rights reserved) as well as additional publicly available sources.


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Dr. Anna Wulick
About the Author

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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