The 10 Most Expensive Colleges and Universities

College tuition is becoming more expensive everyday.  I can remember attending a private institution just 8 years ago for what was then the ridiculous amount of $35,000 per year (including room and board).  Now-a-day’s, $35,000 a year is closer to an average out-of-state tuition, rather than a private school’s tuition.

With unemployment soaring and some pondering the real pay-off for a higher education, college decisions are no longer cut and dry.  Online college courses are becoming more prevalent in today’s society and some online schools are offering free courses. Wondering which institutions of higher education will take the most of your buck for their bang?  Here are ten schools certain to charge a premium for a four-year degree. (All 2009-2010 price tags include tuition, room and board, and fees).

10. Vassar College — The now coed former Seven Sisters school offers 50 baccalaureate majors in liberal arts fields from English to biology and self instruction in foreign languages from Hindi to Yiddish. Graduating Vassar seniors applying to schools of medicine and law boast acceptance rates of 85 and 88 percent. Studying in scenic Poughkeepsie, New York costs $51,300.

9. Washington University in St. Louis — WUSTL’s $51,329 cost brings the choice of 40 majors in the arts and sciences, in addition to business, fine arts, and engineering. Price doesn’t come without prestige: the 9th most expensive school in the States is also the 11th most selective for incoming undergraduates.

8. Trinity College — Hartford, Connecticut’s small liberal arts school explains that its “purpose is to foster critical thinking, free the mind of parochialism and prejudice, and prepare students to lead examined lives that are personally satisfying, civically responsible, and socially useful.” Preparing for the examined life brings a price tag of $51,400.

7. Wesleyan University —The second Connecticut school on our list has just under 2,800 students who each pay $51,432 to study one of the school’s 47 academic majors in the arts and sciences. Gifted science students wishing to pursue a master’s degree are in luck: Wesleyan waives fifth year tuition for students in its combined BA/MA program.

6. Columbia University — The only Ivy also boasting top ten tuition and fees, New York City’s Columbia University offers students the 8th best undergraduate program in the country for $51,544 per annum.

5. Johns Hopkins University — 13th best in the nation, Hopkins offers over 60 majors in the arts and sciences, engineering, and education. One year of studies runs $51,690.

4. George Washington University — Washington’s largest university, George Washington offers 87 major programs including international affairs, political science, and journalism. The $51,775 yearly price tag is steep but comes with a small grace: tuition remains at the freshman rate for up to 10 full-time semesters.

3. New York University — Our 3rd most expensive school boasts 11 undergraduate programs, from nursing, to liberal studies, to the renowned Tisch School of the Arts. One year of attendance costs $51,993.

2. Georgetown University — The nation’s second most expensive institution is also its oldest of Catholic origin. Georgetown boasts notable alumni William Clinton and Antonin Scalia, and a Big East leading seven men’s basketball titles. Wearing Hoya blue and gray costs $52,161 per year.

1. Sarah Lawrence College — Sarah Lawrence takes the most expensive crown for another year, topping our list with a total bill of $55,788. The nation’s highest price tag buys an undergraduate program without traditional majors: Sarah Lawrence students individualize programs to suit their interests. Individual faculty tutorials augment seminars, and grades are supplemented with detailed written evaluations by faculty.

Whether you’re considering an in-state bargain, or one of the premium-priced schools above, explore ways to lessen the burden.  A quick search on the web should open hundreds of scholarship opportunities you never thought existed before.  If you do end up choosing a school where you pay a considerable amount in tuition, don’t forget to take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit that allows for up to a $2,000 tax credit.  The tax credit can be filed four times, which can help in lowering the cost of tuition expenses for you or for Mom and Dad.

Topics: Personal Finance

16 Responses to “The 10 Most Expensive Colleges and Universities”

  1. I don’t know how anyone could afford to go to any of these schools without tons of scholarships and financial aid. It takes most college students five years to complete a degree, and the drop out rate is still high. I don’t know how anyone could spend 250K and not leave with a degree. I’m glad I decided to go to a state school. I am getting an amazing education with smaller classroom size, dedicated professors, and a 5K a year price before scholarships.

      • Emma, the real question here is, is that 50k/year going to get you successful? Im pretty sure CreditShout is going to be far more successful at life than you will. With tuition/fees 1/10 the cost of your college. Well anywho yo are a woman ;P ont really need an education when u can just marry a bank.

    • Michael

      Hi James

      These numbers were taken from US News and World Report and are not solely based on tuition, rather tuition, room and board and fees. Both schools you mentioned did rank in the top 15, however based on these metrics, they didn’t quite crack the top 10.

  2. Actually, if you account for living costs and basic room rent in the Georgetown area, Georgetown is by far the most expensive school. It is in the most exclusive part of DC which boasts one of the highest costs of living in the country.

  3. This is wrong because Landmark College in Putney, VT is the most expensive college. When I went to Landmark it was 15,000 a semester $30,000 a year. I recently attended a reunion at Landmark and current students told me now that it costs with room and board $65,000 a year $32,500 a semester. Whew at least now Landmark College has financial aid. When I went they didn’t have financial aid. But certainly that is the most expensive college at $65,000 a year.

    • Michael

      Hi Mo

      I checked a few different sources and the mean suggest a year’s tuition at Landmark College in Putney VA is $44,000. With room it board, it could sniff a spot on the list but not quite.

      Interesting school. Never heard of it before and will certainly keep it in mind when we update our list. Thanks for mentioning.


  4. Michael,
    I’m not sure where you are getting your information from, but I have a child attending Landmark College, and the total cost (tuition + Room & Board) is $57,000 for 2010-2011 college year. I should know since I’m paying it.

  5. Michael


    These numbers we’re based on 2009 figures where Landmark showed an average of $44,000 for tuition and another $5,800 for Room and Board. (Ranking 17th of the top 100 list according to US News)

    However, based on the information you have provided, it appears that our 2010 list will certainly include Landmark College. Unfortunately, we won’t have that information until US News releases tuition costs later this year.

    Thanks for the comment!

    • Michael

      Hi Roza

      This list is considered for the generic college population, not taking into account most special needs required by students.

      You are correct that Landmark college exceeds every school on this list, however for our criteria, it’s not included.


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