Mankato ranked one of the most affordable college towns

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The city of Mankato has been ranked in a national survey as one of the most affordable college towns, because of its relatively low cost of living.

The list was put together by Great Value Colleges, a website that ranks colleges and universities around the country on various topics ranging from degree programs to graduation rates, to tuition rates and financial aid.

Great Value Colleges ranked 50 college towns according to their cost-of-living index scores, which consider things like the cost of housing, utilities, transportation, health care and groceries.

Mankato came in at No. 36 on the list. According to the survey the city's cost-of-living index is 93, below the average of 100. And the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $717.

Mankato, which is home to Minnesota State University, Mankato and Bethany Lutheran College, is the only Minnesota college town to make the list.

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The total cost of attending Bethany Lutheran for the upcoming academic year, including tuition, fees, room and board, is about $32,000, according to the school's website. The school says nearly all its students receive some type of financial aid.

The total cost of attending MSU for the upcoming academic year, including tuition, fees, on-campus room and board, is approximately $15,000-$17,000 for an undergraduate student, according to the school's website. The total cost will vary depending on the type of dorm and meal plan the student chooses.

For purposes of this ranking, Great Value Colleges uses Wikipedia's definition of a "college town" as a community that is dominated by the population of a college or university.

"College towns ... are so dubbed because the presence of the educational institution(s) pervades economic and social life. Many local residents may be employed by the university—which may be the largest employer in the community—many businesses cater primarily to the university, and the student population may outnumber the local population."

MSU has more than 15,000 students and Bethany Lutheran has about 600, according to the Mankato Free Press. The total population of Mankato and its immediate surrounding area is about 53,000.

So which college town in the U.S. is ranked No. 1? It's Cookeville, Tennessee, home of Tennessee Technological University, with a cost-of-living index score of 85.7.

A few other cities in the Upper Midwest are on the list; they're shown here along with their ranking:

22. Cedar Falls, Iowa (University of Northern Iowa)

32. Fargo, North Dakota (North Dakota State University)

37. Appleton, Wisconsin (Lawrence University)

40. Eau Claire, Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

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