There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but in today’s world, there’s also no such thing as a free education. In recent years, the cost of attending college in the US has risen astronomically, outstripping the rate of inflation and leaving millions of cash- strapped parents in a mild state of panic. As we look at the 2019 ranking of America’s most expensive colleges, one thing becomes abundantly clear: if you want a first- class education, you’re going to need deep pockets.
20. Dartmouth College Tuition – $53,496
20th spot with the least expensive tuition fees of all our entries goes to Dartmouth College. This private, Ivy league institution has the honor of being the 9th oldest University in America, which may account for its ability to demand $53,496 in tuition from its 6,409 students. As we discover from the college website, Dartmouth has an interesting past, and was originally founded with the intention of tutoring Native Americans in Christian theology and the “civilized” ways of British life. These days, the college is more or less secular, and is generally considered one of the highest seats of learning in the country.
19. Bard College Tuition- $54,210
19th place on our list goes to Bard College. This liberal arts institution based in Annandale -on Hudson, New York has been attracting some of America’s smartest (and wealthiest) students for over 150 years. As well as providing undergraduate programs, Bard also offers over 20 graduate degrees, along with a conservatory for its more musically inclined students. According to its website, Bard has a student body of 1900 students, and a faculty of 297. Its student to faculty ratio is an impressive 10:1, which perhaps accounts for the college’s staggering $ 54,210 tuition fees.
18. Carnegie Mellon University Tuition- $54,244
The Class of 2024 will have to ask their parents nicely if they want a place at Carnegie Mellon University; with fees of $54,244, it’s unlikely they’ll get very far on their pocket money alone. The university itself was founded in 1900, and today ranks 25th on the National University Rankings. Even if its future students fail to set the world on fire, the university can still glory in an alumnus that includes 20 Nobel Prize laureates, 13 Turing Award winners, 46 Tony Award winner, 124 Emmy Award winners, and 10 Academy Award winners in their number.
17. Trinity College Tuition – $54,340
Based in Hartford, Connecticut, Trinity College can claim the title of 2nd oldest seat of higher education in the entire state. It’s ranking as 46th best liberal arts college in the U.S New & World Report might explain its $54,340 tuition fees, as might its excellent student to faculty ratio of 9:1. According to US News, the 2350 students of this highly elite institution can expect less than 20 classmates in over 73.1% of their classes, which may account for the high success rate of former scholars, who include billionaire, David Gottesman, and Pulitzer Prize winner, George Will, in their number.
16. Wesleyan University Tuition – $54,314
Students of Wesleyan University can expect to stump up $54,314 for the privilege of a seat at this baccalaureate college in Connecticut. Since its foundation in 1831, Wesleyan has been instructing some of the brightest minds of the country in the arts and sciences, and its efforts have clearly paid off. Past students and faculty members include 13 Pulitzer prize winners and 4 Nobel Laureates (T.S. Elliot and former US president Woodrow Wilson among them). It can also boast 12 US cabinet members, 34 members of Congress and 2 Attorney Generals.
15. Oberlin College Tuition- $54,346
For just $54,346, lucky students across America have the chance of a place at the oldest liberal arts college in America. Oberlin College was founded in 1833 by John Jay Shipherd and Philo Stewart, and has something of an illustrious past: in 1835, it became the first US college to admit black students, and in 1837, it accepted America’s very first female student. The political activism of the University has continued into the present, and in 2016, it ranked 4th place on Princeton Review’s list of “Colleges with a Conscience”.
14. Sarah Lawrence College Tuition- $54,440
Another private liberal arts college to make our list is New York’s Sarah Lawrence College. The institution started out in 1926 as an exclusively female affair, and despite being open to men since 1968, it can still boast a 70% female student body. Whether or not this contributes to its success is open to debate, but the college can certainly claim its place as one of the top seats of learning in the country: the U.S New & World Report ranks it as the 59th best liberal arts college in the US, while the Princeton Review made it the proud winner of its “best classroom experience” category in 2016.
13. Union College Tuition- $54,819
What do you know… at 13th place, we have yet another liberal arts college, this time in the form of New York’s Union College. This private, secular college can claim the honor of being the first seat of higher education to be charted by the New York State Board of Regents. However, it’s pioneering ways went slightly AWOL in the 19th century, and it wasn’t until 1970 that it deigned to admit its first female student. It may have been a latecomer to gender equality, but these days, it does at least try to improve its students world view; by the time of graduation, 60% of its students will have enjoyed either a semester overseas, or some form of international study.
12. Williams College Tuition – $55,140
12th place position on our list goes to Williams College of Massachusetts. Since its foundation in 1793, the college has developed into one of America’s leading institutions of higher education. It’s taken top spot in the U.S News & World Report’s category of best liberal arts college a staggering 15 times, while in 2018, it beat off other liberal arts colleges to claim first place on Forbes list of America’s Top Colleges.
11. Tufts University Tuition – $55, 172
With a total enrollment of 11, 489, prospective students are clearly not being put off by Tuft’s $55, 172 tuition fees. Perhaps its the slogan of “Peace and Light” that makes it so appealing, or maybe it’s the opportunity for international study and overseas placements…. whatever it is, there’s no doubt that Tuft’s has won its place as one of America’s top colleges. With an alumni of Nobel laureates, politicians, Emmy, Academy Award and Pulitzer price winners, there’s no doubting just how far this research university has come since its humble beginnings as one of New England’s smallest liberal arts colleges.
10. University of Southern California Tuition – $55, 320
If the thought of handing over $55, 320 doesn’t make you flinch, competing against the staggering achievements of the university’s past students just might. Over the years, the university has graduated 11 Rhode Scholars, 12 Marshall Scholars, nine Nobel laureates, six MacArthur Fellows, 1 Turing Award winner, and, perhaps most famously of all, the first man to have graced the moon, Mr. Neil Armstrong himself. The university not only graduates the best, it also employs the most: according to USC News, the University ranked as the largest private employer in the whole of Los Angeles in 2017, contributing a staggering $8 billion to the city’s economy.
9. University of Chicago Tuition – $55,425
Thanks to its ranking as one of the best universities in the US, the University of Chicago can demand a pretty penny from its students… $55,425, in fact. The university has a deserved reputation as a frontrunner in scientific discovery, with its list of accomplishments most notably including the development of the Chicago Pile-1, the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Not many universities can add “inventor of the atomic bomb” to their resume (and perhaps even fewer would want to), but equally, not many can claim to have graduated the highest number of Nobel laureates of any university in the world.
8. Amherst College Tuition – $55,520
If your son or daughter asks to go to Amherst College, check your bank balance before agreeing. Tuition at Amherst will set you back a staggering $55,520. On the plus side, your child will be able to claim bragging rights as a student of the best liberal arts college in the country (according to The Wall Street Journal, at least). Since its foundation in 1821, Amherst has grown into one of America’s most popular liberal arts intuitions… and one of its most selective. Of the 10567 applications it received from students hoping to join its Class of 2023, it accepted only 11 percent.
7. Colgate University Tuition- $55, 530
If you have $55,530 to spare, why not join the ranks of Colgate University’s 3000 strong student body? If you do, you’ll have your choice of a range of BA degrees, or even the chance to enroll in the University’s renowned MA teaching program. You’ll also lay claim to being a student of one of the country’s most environmentally friendly institutions: the university produces zero net carbon emissions thanks to it biomass heating facilities, while it’s Green Bikes program encourages students to give up their cars and opt for a bike instead. In August 2015, the University’s green credentials were recognized with a perfect sustainability score from the Princeton Review. On the flip-side, you’ll have to put up with the very unfortunate legacy of the University’s 8th president, George Cutton, who’s bigoted statement “The danger [that] the ‘melting pot’ brings to the nation is the breeding out of the higher divisions of the white race” can be seen at the National Monument on Ellis Island.
6. Bucknell University Tuition – $55, 788
This private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania can not only claim the rank of 6th most expensive university in the US, it can also boast being the educational choice of acclaimed American writer, Philip Roth, 2016 Pulitzer prize winner, Peter Balakian, Pastor extraordinaire, Tim Keller, and National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Christy Matthewson. Whether or not its exemplary alumni is a result of its choosy admission process (the college was deemed to be one of the “more selective” by U.S New & World Report), we can’t say. What we can say is that if past precedent is anything to go by, we’re sure to be hearing a lot more from its 3600 students in the years to come.
5. Vassar College – $56,130
Whether or not Vasser College can claim the brightest students is open to debate; that it can claim some of the wealthiest (or at least, the most willing to pay) is most certainly not. For $56,130, US students can study at the 11th best liberal art college in America, and the only university who’s campus is a designated arboretum. Wandering the university’s 530-acre ecological preserve are 2450 of America’s future movers and shakers, who, on graduation, will join an alumnus of such notable names as Academy Award Winner, Meryl Streep, computer pioneer, Grace Hopper, “Friends” actress, Lisa Kudrow, Pulitzer price winner, Jane Smiley, and Big Brother UK runner up, Raph Korine.
4. Harvey Mudd College Tuition -$56,331
2018 saw the complaints of students at this Californian undergraduate college make the headlines. The Chronicle of Higher Education put the problem down to an excessively pressurized curriculum. However, the effect of paying $56,331 to study at America’s most unfortunately named institution couldn’t have helped matters either. Founded in 1806, Harvey Mudd specializes in 4 year degrees in the sciences and mathematics, and according to U.S News Rankings is the top rated undergraduate engineering school in the US.
3. Franklin and Marshall College Tuition – $56,450
Students of Franklin and Marshall College are certainly not afraid of shelling out for their education… and with tuition fees of $56,450, they’re going to need to. With a student body of around 2300 and a faculty of 175, the college can boast one of the best student: staff ratios around. Unfortunately, it must also claim the dishonorable charge of being one of the 55 universities to be reviewed by the U.S Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2014 for its handling of sexual assault reports. As they say, for every silver lining, there’s a cloud…
2. Columbia University Tuition – $56,608
Not many universities can get away with charging $56,608 in tuition, but then again, not many can claim Barack Obama as a past student. If providing the education of the President of the United States of America wasn’t enough, the University can also claim schooling rights to such famous names as Alexander Hamilton, Amelia Earhart, and Allen Ginsberg. Whether it’s the affiliation to notable names that’s to credit, or whether it’s the ranking of 3rd best university in the US, there’s no doubt Columbia offers some of the most sought after university places in America. However, with an acceptance rate of just 5.1%, only the very brightest will be lucky enough to pass through its doors.
1. Landmark College Tuition – $56,800
If the adage “he who pays the piper calls the tune” holds true for education, the students of Landmark can demand whatever the hell they like of the college’s 160 faculty members. Since its establishment in 1985, the Vermont based college has been open to admission for students with diagnosed learning disabilities, attention disorders and autism. Despite a progressive curriculum and a staff to student ratio of 1:5, , Landmark has a high turnover: in 2011, a New York Times report highlighted that only 30% of its students graduate within 3 years, with many dropping out before graduation. Whether or not the $56,80 tuition fee has a role in that, who knows?