Most Expensive Colleges in America

By Muffy Marracco , last updated December 21, 2011

The most expensive colleges in America tend to be private schools in the Northeastern United States. Most of the colleges are non-profit, and they all cost more than $50,000 per year.

In 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education listed the top ten most expensive colleges in the country according to their total tuition, fees, room, and board. Coming in first place is Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York with a total cost of 57,384 per year. The college was founded as a women’s school in 1926 and went co-ed in 1968. It is known for its low student-to-faculty ratio, coming in at about just six students per one professor.

Sarah Lawrence College is followed on the list by Landmark College, in Vermont, which costs $56,500 per year. This is a two-year junior college that caters to students with learning disabilities. Coming in third is Columbia University’s School of General Studies. It is one of its undergraduate schools and it caters to non-traditional or returning undergraduates. Their costs per year are $54,782. Given the relative cost of living in Manhattan, it is perhaps unsurprising that Columbia’s different colleges appear on the list three times.

Wesleyan University comes in fourth place with costs of $53,976. Founded in 1831, the college is in Middletown, Connecticut. It is named after the founder of Methodism although it is now secular. The standard undergraduate college of Columbia University follows at $53,874. It was originally founded in 1754, making it one of the nine colleges in the country founded before the American Revolution. It is followed closely on this list by Johns Hopkins University with costs of $53,690. This research-oriented university was founded in 1876. It is located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Georgetown University comes in next with costs of $53,591. Located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. It was founded by Jesuits in 1789. Another Manhattan college is on the list. New York University, located downtown compared to Columbia uptown, has yearly costs of $53,589. It was founded in 1831. Harvey Mudd College is the only one of the top ten colleges to be outside the Northeastern United States. Harvey Mudd is one of the Claremont Colleges consortium in Claremont, California. It shares libraries, dining halls and health and security services with the other schools in the organization, like Scripps College, Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College. However, it has its own faculty, admissions office, board of trustees and endowment. Harvey Mudd focuses on mathematics, engineering and science education. Its yearly costs are $53,588.

Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University, marks the third appearance of this university on the list. Its yearly costs are $53,496. The school was founded in 1889 to educate women, and had just 14 students to start. It has been affiliated with Columbia University since 1900. Rounding out the top ten list is Bard College. It has yearly costs of $53,480. It was part of the Columbia University system from 1928 to 1944, but severed that affiliation when it went co-ed. The college was originally founded as St. Stephen’s and was associated with the Episcopal Church. The college is located in the tiny hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson in New York State.

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