The 30 Most Expensive Colleges In the United States
It turns out, yes, you can put a price on knowledge.
You’ve no doubt heard that, these days, college is really expensive. In fact, according to data put out by The College Board, the average cost of tuition—just tuition, not room and board or books or travel costs or living expenses or beer money or anything else—at private colleges clocked in at $34,600.
And that’s just the average. If you look to the pricier colleges and universities in the country, that number can double—and we’ve got the math to prove it. Using data from The National Center For Education Statistics, we’ve cobbled together the definitive list of the 30 most expensive institutions of higher education in the United States. The kicker? If you’re shilling out for one of the most expensive colleges in the country, you could easily drop a cool quarter million on a four-year degree. Read on and see for yourself.
Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester
Some of the world’s greatest musicians claim to be self-taught. Students at the Eastman School of Music at Rochester have a little more skin in the game. The school is named after George Eastman, the founder of Kodak.
Tuition and fees: $52,736
Room and board: $15,324
Johns Hopkins University
If you’ve ever wondered about the name of this prestigious university, here’s the deal. Its founder—Johns Hopkins—was named after his great grandmother, Margaret Johns. When he died in 1873, Hopkins left a cool $7 million with which to found a university and hospital. In 2018, that fund, theoretically, would cover the full tuition, fees, room, and board of 102.8 undergraduates.
Tuition and fees: $52,670
Room and board: $15,410
On the eve of the final night of exams, at the stroke of midnight, hundreds of Vassar students gather on the quad to let out a primal victory scream. This mirrors the primal scream their parents’ let out four years earlier when they saw how much they’d be paying for their child to attend this New York liberal arts college.
Tuition and fees: $55,210
Room and board: $12,900
New York University
NYU has the highest number of students that are non-U.S. citizens of any school in America: 19 percent of NYU’s Class of 2018 are non-U.S. citizens. But that’s not the extent of NYU’s internationalist bent. The school sends the most students abroad, too.
Tuition and fees: $50,464
Room and board: $17,664
Franklin & Marshall College
Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this school was founded 1787 as simply Franklin College, named after Benjamin Franklin, the same year that the U.S. Constitution was written. The inventor, diplomat, editor, and founding father donated two hundred pounds at its founding…which would get you about a morning’s worth of classes at 2018 prices.
Tuition and fees: $54,580
Room and board: $13,580
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
An astonishing 67 percent of Olin’s alumni report that they love their job. That’s just as well—if they paid the full sticker price of attending the school for four years, the total would be well over a quarter-million bucks. They should love every minute of their job.
Tuition and fees: $51,936
Room and board: $16,300
James Buchanan Duke founded Duke University in 1924 with the Duke family’s tobacco-derived fortune. Nowadays, smoking is completely banned on the campus of the medical center. About half of the school’s undergraduates receive financial aid to help pay for their education in Durham.
Tuition and fees: $53,500
Room and board: $14,798
This school was founded in 1789, the same year that the U.S. Constitution became the supreme law of the land. One of its most famous alums, President Bill Clinton, paid his way through scholarships and part-time jobs. When he attended Georgetown in the mid-1960s, the annual tuition was around $1,500—or about $11,400 in 2018 dollars.
Tuition and fees: $52,300
Room and board: $16,068
Jumbo the elephant was the largest elephant in captivity back in the nineteenth century. After being struck and killed by a train 1885, Jumbo was stuffed and donated to Tufts University. To this day, Tufts alumni are called jumbos. Also jumbo? The bill you’ll pay if you’re paying the full sticker price.
Tuition and fees: $54,318
Room and board: $14,054
Founded in 1841 by the Catholic Diocese of New York, Fordham University is located in the Bronx in New York City. After financial aid, the cost to the average undergrad is $34,000, or around half of the price advertised.
Tuition and fees: $50,986
Room and board: $17,445
Named after Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandeis University has the second highest Jewish student population of any college in the United States.
Tuition and fees: $53,537
Room and board: $14,906
Founded in Claremont California in 1963, about 37 percent of Pitzer students receive financial assistance via loans, scholarships, work-study, and/or institutional grants.
Tuition and fees: $52,236
Room and board: $16,264
Tuition and fees: $54,310
Room and board: $14,190
University of Pennsylvania
The first American college to be founded on strictly secular principles also happened to be established by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. Interestingly, Franklin did not attend college himself; his education was self-administered through reading. (That’s a tactic that can save you a lot of money these days!)
Tuition and fees: $53,534
Room and board: $15,066
Quakers founded Haverford College back in 1833. Located outside Philadelphia, it’s known for its academic rigor, code of honor, and picturesque campus.
Tuition and fees: $52,754
Room and board: $15,958
Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Meghan Markle (sorry, the Duchess of Sussex) are some of Northwestern’s notable alumni. The university was founded in 1851 by John Evans, for whom the city of Evanston, Illinois, is named.
Tuition and fees: $52,678
Room and board: $16,047
Barnard was founded in 1889 as one of the few colleges in the United States where women could receive the same education that was available to men. More than a third of students (37 percent) receive Barnard College grants; the average grant is $42,681.
Tuition and fees: $52,662
Room and board: $16,100
Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence is a private liberal arts school located just north of New York City. The college has many notable alums, including Vera Wang, Barbara Walters, Yoko Ono, and Jordan Peele.
Tuition and fees: $54,010
Room and board: $14,846
Have you ever heard of Theodor Geisel? Well, when he was attending Dartmouth in the 1920s, he got busted for illegal drinking and had to change his name so that he could continue contributing to the college humor magazine. His pen name, Dr. Seuss, stuck. Further cementing Dartmouth’s reputation as a party school, reportedly, it was the inspiration for National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Tuition and fees: $53,786
Room and board: $15,159
Founded as Washington College, as an alternative to Yale, in 1823, Trinity is the second-oldest college in the state of Connecticut—and the most expensive.
Tuition and fees: $54,770
Room and board: $14,200
Claremont McKenna College
Given the four-year sticker price of almost $280,000, it’s surprising to learn that the average debt Claremont McKenna students find themselves in at graduation is just $21,421. In part that’s because the average need-based scholarship and grant award is a hefty $46,324 per year.
Tuition and fees: $52,825
Room and board: $16,220
University of Southern California
When USC first opened it was doors back in 1880, tuition was a mere $15 per term—but with that low, low fee came some strings attached. Students weren’t allowed to leave town without the consent of the university president.
Tuition and fees: $54,323
Room and board: $14,885
Scripps College is one of four Claremont colleges that rank among the country’s most expensive universities. It’s known for its historic campus and extensive core curriculum.
Tuition and fees: $52,966
Room and board: $16,294
An interesting perk of being an Oberlin student is that you can rent original works of art from the renowned campus art museum for just $5 per semester. Students have works by Warhol, Picasso, and other well-known artists hanging in their dorm rooms.
Tuition and fees: $53,460
Room and board: $15,862
Southern Methodist University
Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (hence the name), SMU’s main campus is situated in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. Three-quarters of students benefit from scholarships and grants packages which range from $236 to $80,067.
Tuition and fees: $52,498
Room and board: $16,910
Columbia University School of General Studies
This is but one of many pricey universities located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The School of General Studies of Columbia University is entirely dedicated to students with nontraditional backgrounds who want a traditional education at an Ivy League university.
Tuition and fees: $55,478
Room and board: $13,950
Located in Annandale-on-Hudson, a hamlet in upstate New York, the campus of Bard overlooks the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains.
Tuition and fees: $54,496
Room and board: $15,066
University of Chicago
Economics is a serious business at the University of Chicago. There even exists a school of economic thought—the Chicago School of Economics—named after the university. The economics of attending the school for a year are simple, though: It’s expensive. Really expensive.
Tuition and fees: $54,825
Room and board: $15,726
After the Catholic Church, the second largest landowner in New York City is Columbia University. Founded as King’s College in 1754, it’s one of nine colonial colleges established before the Declaration of Independence. Originally located on Madison Avenue, King’s was moved to Morningside Heights in 1896, the same year it changed its name to Columbia.
Tuition and fees: $57,208
Room and board: $13,618
Harvey Mudd College
The most expensive school in the country is Harvey Mudd Collage, another of the so-called 7Cs in Claremont, California. Named after Harvey Seely Mudd, one of the initial investors in the Cyprus Mines Corporation, the college has been the most expensive university in the country for three years running. Around 70 percent of first-year students receive financial aid to ease the sticker price of the nearly $290k cost of a four-year occupation.
Tuition and fees: $54,886
Room and board: $17,592
And if the price of admission makes you reel, then you’ll get a serious kick out of these 20 Facts That Will Make You So Happy You’re Not a Teen Right Now.
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