The Most Expensive Colleges in the US

Jul 27, 2011

As part of 2008's Higher Education Opportunity Act, Congress mandated the creation of the College Affordability and Transparency Center (CATC), a website that allows users to easily view the most and least expensive schools in the United States. According to CATC, what schools cost the most money?

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By Eric Garneau


Who Gets Your Money?

CATC lets users generate lists of the top five percent and bottom ten percent of the country's most expensive schools, divided into categories based on whether a school is public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit, and 4-year, 2-year or less than 2-year in its time to completion. Here we've compiled the top five most expensive public and private, not-for-profit 4-year and 2-year schools - because of a smaller sample size on schools that take less than two years to complete, they've been omitted. At the bottom of each list of five is the national average for schools of that type, so you can see how far each school listed (as well as your own) deviates from the norm.

School costs are also broken down into two categories, by tuition and by net price. Net price is calculated by taking the total cost of a school's tuition, average room and board, fees, books and any additional supplies needed and then subtracting the average amount of federal, state, local and institutional financial aid and grants given to each student. Because of that equation, some schools can end up having a lower net cost than tuition, though for many the net cost remains higher.


There are a few general lessons we can draw from the schools listed below. First, it seems that institutions in the East - particularly in the Northeast, and particularly private schools - tend to cost the most money (notice New Hampshire almost has a lock on the most expensive 2-year schools by net price). If you live in that region or plan to attend school there, you may have to do some careful looking to find options within your price range.

Second, perhaps surprisingly, private schools seem to have about the same variance of price range as their public brethren. Going by tuition alone, the most expensive public 4-year school costs 2.25 times as much as the national average, while the most expensive private 4-year school comes in at 2.4 times the average. Additionally, 2-year schools can have an even greater variance than their 4-year counterparts - the top 2-year public school costs 4.13 times the national average! Regardless of if you go public or private, you may end up paying significantly more than you want or need to for an education.

Now, here are the United States' most expensive schools!

Public 4-Year Schools

By Tuition

  1. Pennsylvania State University Main Campus - $14,416
  2. University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Campus - $14,154
  3. University of Vermont - $13,554
  4. St. Mary's College of Maryland - $13,234
  5. New Jersey Institute of Technology - $12,856

National Average: $6,397

By Net Price

  1. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio - $24,192
  2. University of Guam - $23,902
  3. St. Mary's College of Maryland - $21,468
  4. Rowan University (New Jersey) - $19,344
  5. Miami University Oxford (Ohio) - $19,305

National Average: $10,747

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Private, Not-For-Profit 4-Year Schools

By Tuition

  1. Bates College (Maine) - $51,300
  2. Connecticut College - $51,115
  3. Middlebury College (Vermont) - $50,780
  4. Union College (New York) - $50,439
  5. Colby College (Maine) - $50,320

National Average: $21,324

By Net Price

  1. Art Center College of Design (California) - $39,672
  2. The New School (New York) - $39,004
  3. School of the Art Institute of Chicago - $38,965
  4. The Boston Conservatory - $37,798
  5. California Institute of the Arts - $36,997

National Average: $19,009

Public 2-Year Schools

By Tuition

  1. University of Pittsburgh Titusville - $10,430
  2. Marion Military Institute (Alabama) - $8,570
  3. Somerset County Technology Institute (New Jersey) - $8,255
  4. Rolla Technical Institute (Missouri) - $7,039
  5. White Mountains Community College (New Hampshire) - $6,707

National Average: $2,527

By Net Price

  1. Florida Keys Community College - $23,515
  2. Great Bay Community College (New Hampshire) - $17,980
  3. Manchester Community College (New Hampshire) - $17,487
  4. Nashua Community College (New Hampshire) - $17,465
  5. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Minnesota) - $16,681

National Average: $6,780

Private, Not-For-Profit 2-Year Schools

By Tuition

  1. Landmark College (Vermont) - $45,800
  2. American Academy of Dramatic Arts (New York) - $27,500
  3. Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing (Massachusetts) - $25,422
  4. Marymount College (California) - $24,582
  5. Metropolitan Career Center Computer Technology Institute (Pennsylvania) - $24,144

National Average: $11,413

By Net Price

  1. New York Methodist Hospital Center for Allied Health Education - $35,160
  2. Landmark College (Vermont) - $34,873
  3. The Ailey School (New York) - $29,476
  4. Dallas Institute of Funeral Service - $28,012
  5. Holy Name Hospital School of Nursing (New Jersey) - $27,795

National Average: $14,906

Here are some exceptionally affordable schools for low-income students.

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