The 20 Most Expensive Colleges in the United States

How much will it set you back to go to one of the most expensive colleges in the country? We’ve got the numbers.

Not everybody needs to go to college. But for those who do, it’s important to be informed about all your options for college – and how much each will cost. Whether you’re looking to spend a hefty college fund or you’re just curious about which colleges offer the priciest expenses, we’ve got the details.

How We Ranked These Colleges

To find out which colleges are the most expensive in the US, we started by looking at a list from CollegeCalc, which sorts over 2,000 US colleges according to price. CollegeCalc looked closely at data from the US Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data system to determine its rankings.

But these numbers from CollegeCalc are relevant for the 2020-2021 academic year – so they’re not exactly up to date now. That’s why we visited each college’s website to find out the current estimated cost of attendance for each of these schools for the 2022-2023 school year.

The cost of these colleges for the 2022-2023 school year ranged from $78,000 – $86,000.

#20: Vassar College

Vassar College framed by trees
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Originally founded in 1861 as a women’s college, Vassar is now coeducational and is known as one of the top liberal arts schools in the country. The college is focused on empowering each individual to lead a purposeful life. 

The Vassar website states that, for the 2021-2022 school year, tuition, fees, and room and board totaled approximately $78,580.

#19: Bard College

Bard is a private college with a unique curriculum. Located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, (near New York City), Bard emphasizes connecting students with the broader community.

The cost of tuition, fees, and room and board, is $79,017 for the 2022-2023 school year, which does not include books, transportation, or other costs.

#18: Oberlin College & Conservatory

Oberlin offers two colleges: the college of arts and sciences and the conservatory of music. Located in a Midwestern college town not too far from Cleveland, Oberlin’s beautiful campus also includes an art museum.

But paying for an Oberlin education is expensive. The estimated costs for the 2021-2022 school year total $80,055.

#17: Dartmouth College

Looking down the Dartmouth Green with trees beginning to show fall colors and a blue sky with puffy white clouds on a nice autumn day the Baker Library and its bell tower is in the background.
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Founded in 1769, Dartmouth offers over 40 academic departments and programs. The 269-acre main campus is located in Hanover, New Hampshire.

With a quarterly schedule, paying for your education looks a little different at Dartmouth. The Fall Term, Winter Term, and Spring Term each come with their own charges, with the Fall Term costing the most. The total for all three terms is approximately $80,557.

#16: Wellesley College

An all-women’s college dedicated to providing an excellent liberal arts education, Wellesley was founded in 1870. It is located 12 miles west of Boston in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

To attend Wellesley, you’ll have to find about $80,000. The cost, “changes from year to year. This year it’s $81K—roughly the same number you’d see at any world-class liberal arts college.”

#15: Franklin and Marshall College

Founded in 1787, Franklin and Marshall College is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is near Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York City. With a small undergraduate enrollment of about 2,426, Franklin and Marshall offers small class sizes.

The cost of attending Franklin and Marshall is approximately $81,084, not including books or transportation. 

#14: Haverford College

Close to from Philadelphia, you’ll find the 200-acre campus of Haverford College. Haverford emphasizes balancing academics with extracurriculars. With a small student body of 1,435, this college has a small community feel.

The tuition and fees, plus the room and board, for Haverford’s 2022-2023 school year, (not including books or transportation) comes out to $81,330.

#13: University of Rochester

The University of Rochester was founded in 1850 and is known as both a high-tech powerhouse and a center for the arts. Its campus in western New York serves around 12,000 students.

To attend the University of Rochester, the college estimates that you’ll need $82,468 a year.

#12: Boston College

Boston Massachusetts USA - December 25. 2018: The entrance sign of Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts. Boston College is a private Jesuit Catholic research university.
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Boston College is a Jesuit, Catholic university that offers a wide variety of programs. Founded in 1863 by the Jesuits, the college has maintained its commitment to educating the whole person by guiding students’ intellectual, personal, ethical, and religious formation.

Boston College estimates that the total for tuition, fees, room, and board, books, and incidental items will equal $83,446 for the 2022-2023 school year.

#11: Reed College

Located near Portland, Oregon, Reed College is set on a campus of over 100 acres. Reed is known for its high standards, 40 majors and programs, and emphasis on critical thinking. 

Reed estimates that you’ll need approximately $83,660 to cover all costs for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Read More: The 30 Most Overpriced Colleges in the United States

#10: Brown University

This private, Ivy League, research university is located in Providence, Rhode Island. With an open curriculum, Brown emphasizes a flexible and rigorous approach to education.

Ivy League universities come with a hefty price. The cost of attending Brown during the 2022-2023 school year is approximately $83,683.

#9: Northwestern

Northwestern is a research university known for its student journalism and global opportunities. With a 7% acceptance rate, it’s a highly selective university.

If you’re admitted, the costs of a Northwestern education can add up. The estimated cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, fees, and other expenses, was $83,838 for the 2021-2022 school year.

#8: Barnard

New York, NY / United States - Dec. 22, 2019: a landscape view of Barnard College
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Barnard College was founded in 1889 to serve as a women’s college equivalent to Columbia University. Located in New York City, Barnard is an all-women’s school known for its research program.

It costs a lot to attend Barnard –an estimated $84,412 a year for students living on campus, according to the college’s website. 

#7: Tufts University

This research university is located northwest of Boston. Tufts has three different schools and a student body of around 5,500. 

According to the university, the estimated cost of attendance is $84,600 – which includes books but not transportation.

#6: Harvey Mudd College

Located in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College only offers bachelor of science degrees. This small college was founded in 1955 and served 905 students in the 2021-2022 school year. 

The cost of attendance for this California college is high. The estimated cost that covers all categories for the 2022-2023 school year is $84,896.

#5: Wesleyan University

This liberal arts university offers more than 1,000 courses in 45 major fields of study. With seven colleges and 12 academic centers, Wesleyan has plenty of options for students to choose from. 

Located in the heart of Connecticut, Wesleyan’s campus is beautiful – but is the experience worth the price tag? According to the university, the estimated cost of attendance for a freshman in the 2022-2023 school year is $85,202.

#4: University of Chicago

View of the Gothic campus of the University of Chicago, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.
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The University of Chicago has long been a world leader in college education. With four divisions, seven professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, there’s something for every student.

Attending the University of Chicago isn’t cheap. The estimated cost of attendance for a student living on-campus during the 2022-2023 school year comes to $85,536.

#3: University of Southern California

This west coast university is a private school located in Los Angeles, California. Home to more than 48,000 students and 4,400 full-time faculty, USC has much to offer. 

The price of a USC education is steep. According to the university’s website, the estimated cost of attendance for a student living on campus is approximately $85,648.

#2: University of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin founded this college, the University of Pennsylvania, which is located in Philadelphia. Over 28,000 students enrolled in the fall 2021 semester, the majority of whom were graduate students. 

A Penn education offers plenty of opportunities – for a price. The estimated cost of attendance for the 2022-2023 school year at Penn totals $85,738 for an undergraduate student living on campus.

#1: Amherst College

Amherst College Johnson Chapel tower on a sunny day.
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Founded in 1821, Amherst is a private, not-for-profit college. There are approximately 850 courses to choose from and 1,800 students at this college located in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Amherst estimates that the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, health insurance, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation, is approximately $86,579 a year.

What To Keep In Mind

Tuition and fees are set in advance, and those costs will usually change just once a year before the new school year begins. 

But other costs – like the price of books, transportation, and room and board – are extremely variable. Each of the estimates in this list was for a college student who chose to pay for on-campus housing.

But if you’re interested in attending one of these colleges and you have family or friends who you could live with nearby, then that could cut your costs by roughly $16,000, especially if your family or friends agree to pay for your meals. 

Some of these estimates included the cost of transportation home. You may be able to cut down on that cost by choosing a college near where your parents live, or by visiting home less often. 

Whether you want to avoid the most expensive colleges in the country, or you think you can manage these price tags, remember this: college is what you make of it.

Read More: Money 101: Essential Financial Advice for College Freshman

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