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25 Most Expensive Colleges in America

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Just two years ago, five U.S. colleges made headlines by charging students an astonishing $50,000 per year in tuition, fees, room and board. Last year, 58 schools broke that $50,000 price barrier and according to a Chronicle of Higher Education analysis of data released by the College Board, over 100 colleges and universities are now charging in excess of $50,000 per year.

Sandy Baum, an independent policy analyst for the College Board and co-author of the 2010 Trends in Higher Education Series, says that the tuition increases are due in part to higher health care costs, the rising price of skilled labor and increased spending to approve amenities.

Baum realizes that paying $50,000 or more for a year at school may seem like a lot, particularly in this economy, but most of these universities have been flirting with that sticker price for a while and are crossing into $50,000 territory now only as a result of steady upward increases.

Public College Joins the $50,000 Tuition Club

The 2010-11 academic year is also a milestone because the first public college has joined the list of the most expensive schools in America: the University of California at Berkeley is now charging out-of-state residents $50,649 for tuition, fees, room, and board. The other 99 colleges and universities charging $50,000-plus per year are private institutions.

Thanks to grants, scholarships and tax credits, many students are paying less than sticker price to attend college, but many other students are still struggling to pay for college.

Expensive Colleges will Cause Tuition Hikes at Cheaper Schools

Lynn O’Shaugnessy of CBS Money Watch’s The College Solution agrees that financial aid can drastically reduce the published price of college tuition, but she’s angered because the most expensive colleges in America will most likely cause tuition to spike at other schools as well.

“Schools lower on the academic pecking order judge themselves by what the country’s most prestigious and expensive schools are doing. If the elites continue to construct amazing facilities, shrink class sizes and maybe even offer maid service, the wannabes won’t want to be left behind. The wannabes know they can’t catch up to the college superstars, but they are terrified of losing ground. So they will raise their prices too,” O’Shaugnessy wrote in her column on October 13, 2010.

25 Most Expensive Colleges in America

Ready to find out which elite colleges and universities are members of the $50,000-plus club this year? We’ve provided a list of the top 25 below that includes their 2010-11 rates for tuition, fees, room and board.

1. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY $57,384

2. Landmark College, Putney, VT $56,500

3. Columbia University School of General Studies, New York, NY $ 54,782

4. Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT $53,976

5. Columbia University, New York, NY $53,874

6. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD $53,690

7. Georgetown University, Washington, DC $53,591

8. New York University, New York, NY $53,589

9. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, $53,588

10. Barnard College, New York, NY $53,496

11. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, $53,480

12. Trinity College, Hartford, CT $53,330

13. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO $53,315

14. Bates College, Lewiston, ME $53,30

15. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL $53,244

16. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA $53,230

17. Connecticut College, New London, CT $53,110

18. Fordham University, New York, NY $53,093

19. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY $53,090

20. Pitzer College, Claremont, CA $53,080

21. George Washington University, Washington, DC $53,025

22. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN $53,000

23. Haverford College, Haverford, PA $52,970

24. Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ $52,965

25. Babson College, Wellesley, MA $52,916

You can view the complete list of the 100 most expensive colleges in America here.

Interested in saving money on expensive college tuition? For information on financial aid and scholarships by state, visit the StateUniversity.com Financial Aid Guide.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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