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September 10, 2015

Muncie Named America’s Most Affordable College Town By

American college towns are becoming appealing places to live – for all ages, from retirees to young people.  They are looking for the cultural events, quality of life, sports and recreational activities, community engagement opportunities, job opportunities and entrepreneurial spirit found in college towns.  The data team ranked more than 300 college towns by median home price to determine the top 10 least expensive and top ten most expensive college towns.  Muncie, Indiana, home of Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community College leads the nation in affordability with a median home price of $77,900.  The college town criteria specified areas where student residents were greater than 5,000 and made up more than 20% of the community’s total population.  Eight of the ten least expensive college towns are located in the Midwest.

With a population of 70,033, Muncie has many programs and projects underway to enhance the quality of place in this multi-college community.  The largest of Muncie’s many city parks is Prairie Creek Lake Park, southeast of Muncie, containing 1275 acres of water and 750 acres of land.  This popular recreation area is perfect for sailing, boating, fishing, swimming and camping.  The Muncie-based Cardinal Greenway runs 62 miles from Marion through Muncie to Richmond.  Muncie also has a 3-mile trail along the White River, utilizing the public access area.  The river is a destination for fly-fishing fans, canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts.  IU Health / Ball Memorial Hospital is a well-equipped regional healthcare facility featuring a family practice medical school program.  The downtown area is vibrant with many infrastructure projects underway, including a new hotel adjacent to the community’s large Horizon Convention Center and across from a senior housing center.  A growing number of residents are living in the downtown.  The region’s largest employers are IU Health / Ball Memorial Hospital – 3,000 employees, and Ball State University with 2,800 employees.

“This Most Affordable College Town ranking provides additional evidence that Muncie is an attractive place for economic development investment.  Housing affordability is a factor in any company’s decision to locate or expand in a community, and decision makers want to know that all employees, from the CEO to the hourly worker, can afford quality housing in the community in which the company invests,” said Jay Julian, President/CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer, Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance.  “When housing is affordable, it provides more resources for recreation, philanthropic giving and nonessential purchases, thus providing additional growth opportunities for the local business and non-profit communities,” added Julian.

John A. Fallon, III, PhD –former university president and Executive Director of Sustainable Muncie Corporation, added his perspective, “Affordability and cost of living factors are significant elements in Muncie’s transition from a durable goods manufacturing community to more of a college town.  These are particularly important in the attraction and retention of talented younger people who represent the future.  When considered in concert with other local trends and developments, like enlightened municipal leadership, increasingly engaged anchor institutions, the rise of organized neighborhoods, the intellectual resources of a research university and a large and steady supply of young people, affordability helps to position Muncie for wholesale transformation.  Indeed, this community is poised for emergence as perhaps Indiana’s very best recent success story.”

Ball State University is a public institution, founded in 1918, with an enrollment
of about 18,000 students.  BSU has been named one of the best universities in the Midwest by The Princeton Review for 11 years, and classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university, placing the school in the company of Boston College, Clemson University and College of William and Mary, among others.  The University has many programs, including its Entrepreneurship program highly ranked by national organizations and publications.  The beautiful 1,130-acre  Ball State campus is located about 50 minutes northeast of Indianapolis – in East Central Indiana.  Students can choose from about 180 majors from the following academic programs: College of Applied Sciences and Technology; College of Architecture and Planning; Miller College of Business; College of Communication, Information and Media; College of Fine Arts; College of Sciences and Humanities; Teachers College, Special Programs; and Online and Distance Education.  Ball State is a leader in green sustainability with a number of LEED certified buildings, and heats and cools university buildings with one of the worlds largest geothermal systems.   Famous BSU alumni include comedian / talk show host David Letterman and cartoonist Jim Davis, “father” of the world renown cat – “Garfield,” along with many other graduates in business, entertainment, the arts and other organizations.”

Ivy Tech Community College is the nation’s largest singly accredited community college with locations throughout Indiana.  In the East Central region, Ivy Tech serves more than 12,000 students annually with campuses in Muncie, Anderson, New Castle and Marion.  More students in East Central Indiana choose Ivy Tech than any other college or university, whether seeking an education and going into high-demand, high-paying careers, or transferring to one of Indiana’s great colleges or universities.  Ivy Tech graduates out earn all other college graduates across the state of Indiana during their first year after graduation.  Dr. Andy Bowne, Chancellor, East Central & Richmond Regions of Ivy Tech Community College, advised, “We are so proud to be part of Muncie’s growth and serving students with higher education opportunities.  Ivy Tech’s open enrollment policy ensures all potential students have the opportunity to earn a credential. Our students are getting jobs in high demand fields with great wages, all in the local community.  In May, we awarded more than 1,600 credentials, and as the most cost effective education provider, our students are seeing less student loan debt, if any at all.”

2015 – Least Expensive College Town Rankings
1 Muncie, IN $77,900 Ball State University
Ivy Tech Community College
2 Charleston, IL $81,500 Eastern Illinois University
3 Macomb, IL $100,900 Western Illinois University
4 Kirksville, MO $109,900 Truman State University
5 Big Rapids, MI $114,000 Ferris State University
6 Kalamazoo, MI $117,900 Western Michigan University
7 Cortland, NY $120,950 State University of New York at Cortland
8 Carbondale, IL $128,500 Southern Illinois University
9 Carrollton, GA $133,200 University of West Georgia
10 Urbana-Champaign, IL $140,000 University of Illinois

Commenting about’s ranking of Muncie as the nation’s most affordable college town, Mike Lunsford, President of Coldwell Banker Lunsford Real Estate said, “ Muncie’s living and housing costs are great advantages for those who want the many amenities of a university and a town with great neighborhoods and quality of life.  We are becoming more of a retirement destination!  This important national recognition will help as people consider where they choose to live in the future.”

Monte Needler, Vice President of the Residential Division of Coldwell Banker Lunsford, local area real estate firm added, “Muncie has always been a very affordable community in which to invest in real estate, and has been ranked in the top five nationally for best affordability in college towns on prior occasions.  And, to have outstanding educational institutions such as Ball State and Ivy Tech helps create even more value for any real estate investor looking in this market.  Muncie truly is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family – and has a variety of housing options to fit any need.”

2015 – Most Expensive College Town Rankings
1 Berkeley, CA $849,000 University of California – Berkeley
Berkeley City College
2 Santa Cruz, CA $814,000 University of California – Santa Cruz
3 Boulder, CO $789,000 University of Colorado – Boulder
4 San Luis Obispo, CA $690,000 California Polytechnic State University
5 Cambridge, MA $685,000 Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6 Claremont, CA $675,000 Claremont University Consortium
7 Princeton, NJ $650,000 Princeton University
8 Davis, CA $579,000 University of California – Davis
9 Chapel Hill, NC $450,000 University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Duke University
10 Flagstaff, AZ $431,750 Northern Arizona University



Release was prepared by Tom Farris / T.L. Farris & Associates / P. O. Box 2542, Muncie, IN 47307-0542 / 765.284.5313 /