Nov 6, 2009

Three Area Colleges Are Among the Top Ten Most Expensive

What do Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins have in common? They all cost over $50K per year to attend and they all made it onto the list of the top ten most expensive colleges in America, according to numbers recently compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Two of the three, Georgetown and GW, are perennial favorites having been among the top 20 most expensive colleges since at least 2003.

For the second year in a row, Sarah Lawrence College in New York has the dubious honor of being the most expensive college in the nation with tuition, fees, room and board totaling $55,788. Georgetown ($52,161) comes in at number three, with GW ($51,775) and Johns Hopkins ($51,690) holding the number five and six spots. St. John’s College in Annapolis joined other local $50K Club members at number 42 with costs totaling $50,352 per year.

It’s no secret that the cost of post-secondary education has gone up faster than the prices of other goods and services. Last year, only five private nonprofit colleges and universities in the country could boast of membership in the $50K Club. This year, the list has grown to 58. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down, despite press releases from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) announcing that tuition at private colleges rose only 4.3 percent—the smallest increase in 37 years. In fact, it appears that the market can bear much more as many of the nation’s most expensive institutions have seen no drop in demand.

Although generous aid packages mean that most students don't pay sticker price, it’s fair to say college is rapidly becoming a luxury outside the means of middle class families. While aggressive building campaigns and upgrades in other campus amenities may account for a huge hunk of the need for higher revenue, it’s also true that increased need for financial aid among students figures into the equation. It’s a vicious cycle that depends heavily on some students paying full freight while colleges continue to gamble that the economy will improve enough for them to stop dipping into endowments some time before the bottom falls out.

America's Top Ten Most Expensive Colleges and Universities


Sarah Lawrence College, NY



Landmark College, VT



Georgetown University, DC



New York University



George Washington University, DC



Johns Hopkins University, MD



Columbia University, NY



Wesleyan University, CT



Trinity College, CT



Washington University, MO


1 comment:

  1. Missed in much of the recent coverage of college tuition trends -- including on this blog -- is the fact that inflation-adjusted net tuition (published tuition price minus grant aid and federal higher education tax benefits) at private, nonprofit colleges and universities has actually dropped by 8.6 percent in the past five years. This is according to the College Board's "Trends in College Pricing 2009" report. More than 80 percent of students at private, nonprofit institutions receive grant assistance.

    So, despite rising demand for higher education in recent years (as the number of high school graduates grew to record numbers), net tuition this year is lower than what it was five years ago -- and, for that matter, even 10 years ago -- in constant 2009 dollars. For more information, go to