Jan 17, 2011

104 Colleges and Universities Cross the $50K Mark for 2010-11

As recently as two years ago, only five colleges were priced over $50,000. This year, the number has grown to 104, including the first public university—the University of California at Berkeley, which is charging out-of-state students $50,649.

With the one exception, all other colleges charging $50,000 or more are private. They made up 9 percent of the more than 1000 private institutions providing cost information used for the analysis published by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

And not surprisingly, a number of local colleges and universities appear on the $50K list. These include Johns Hopkins ($53,690), Georgetown ($53,591), George Washington ($53,025), St. Johns College ($52,176), Washington and Lee ($50,630), the University of Richmond ($50,420), American ($50,165), and Loyola of Maryland ($50,000).

Of this group, GW, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins have consistently maintained positions among the top 20 highest published totals for tuition, fees, and room and board for the past four years.

But no one, or at least very few families, pays sticker price thanks to various forms of financial aid. In fact, the College Board, which provided the data on which the Chronicle based its findings, estimates that the average net price for tuition, fees, and room and board at private four-year colleges has fallen slightly (when adjusted for inflation) from amounts posted five years ago, to $21,020 this year.

While Berkeley remains a tuition trailblazer for public institutions, 14 public institutions set charges at $40,000 or higher in 2010-11. Of them, eight are other campuses in the UC system as well as the College of William & Mary and the Universities of Colorado at Boulder, Michigan at Ann Arbor, Texas at Austin, Vermont, and Virginia.

In all fairness, however, it should be noted that among the nearly 600 four-year public institutions for which the College Board reported out-of-state charges, the median was $23,526.

But with severe budget reductions in Higher Ed announced in California, the future looks grim as states prepare to follow the lead set on the west coast. In fact, without the support of federal stimulus money, it looks like all bets are off on the cost of a public education for the immediate future.

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