Are the Most Expensive Universities Worth the Money?

There are lots of factors that students need to take into account when deciding where to apply for college: what they want to study, where they want to live, and, of course, how much they're willing to pay. Are the most expensive schools providing the best education? The Education Insider takes a closer look at what students are paying for at the country's priciest campuses.

By Erin Tigro


Most Expensive Universities and Colleges

In 2011, U.S. News & World Report published an article listing the ten priciest colleges and universities throughout the country. Of the schools listed, annual tuition and fees ranged from $41,940 at Carnegie Mellon University to $43,990 at Connecticut College. These prices did not take into account room and board or textbook costs. Of these institutions, only one, Columbia University, was noted among the publication's top five national universities. Ranked fourth in the nation, Columbia was still more expensive than the publication's top three ranking institutions - Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University, whose tuitions ranged from $36,640 - $38,416 annually. Other schools noted as priciest in the U.S. included Vassar College, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Wesleyan University, St. John's College in Maryland and New Mexico, Bucknell University and Trinity College.

Notable State Schools

Arguably, some of the best reasons to attend a pricier school are often name recognition and networking potential. But if you're planning on staying near to your college after graduation, networking programs at your school may be just as valuable. There are a number of other prominent institutions throughout the country that are priced more reasonably. If you live in a state that boasts a top-notch college or university, it may behoove you to stay put instead of going away to school. Tuition for in-state residents is drastically less than for out-of-state residents.

Ten Distinguished and Reasonably Priced Public Institutions

The schools listed below were among U.S. News and World Report's top 50 schools for 2011. Rankings are based on several factors, including academic reputation among school professionals, peer assessment and graduation rates. In addition, all of the institutions were also noted as 2011 'best' all-around institutions by The Princeton Review, and all with the exception of Penn State were noted as 'Best Value' colleges. These institutions indicated in-state tuition rates around $15,000 or less annually.

Postsecondary Institution 2010 - 2011 Tuition Costs Ranking
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $6,665 30
University of Washington $8,701 41
Georgia Institute of Technology $8,716 35
University of Wisconsin - Madison $9,050 45
University of Texas at Austin $9,418 45
University of Virginia $10,628 25
University of California - Los Angeles $10,781 25
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor $12,400 29
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign $13,640 47
Pennsylvania State University - University Park $15,250 47

What's in a Name?

While going to a more prestigious school may seem great, the costs associated with them are not, particularly if you're not able to subsidize the costs. Imagine graduating college and thinking you could have bought a home with the amount of money you spent or will be paying back over time. Who wants to feel smothered when you should be ready and excited to start your professional life? In most career realms, what really matters is the degree, not the school that you attended. More importantly, once you get in the door, you, not your degree, will determine your success.

Check back tomorrow for information on how to find affordable private colleges. Now read on for more details about average college costs.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?