Education

The definitive list of the 12 most expensive colleges in the United States [SLIDESHOW]

While people have complained about the costs of undergraduate education for generations, things have really gotten out of control in the last decade or so. Loans, scholarships and grants allow most students to attend at some kind of discount. But the retail cost of a year of education is close to unconscionable at a slew of colleges and universities.

It’s hard to get a handle on the exact price tag for attendance at most colleges. When it comes to surreptitiously adding costs, college administrators are as subtle as the best three-card monte dealers and twice as creative. Matriculation fees, technology fees and the like are common.

The calculation of annual cost on this list assumes that students are living in a dorm and eating campus grub. Otherwise, the cost only includes unavoidable charges: tuition, various required fees, books, and supplies. (The estimate for schools that did not list the cost of books and supplies is around $1,000.) The prices in this list do not include any personal expenses, or travel expenses, or toothpaste or beer. All those things will drive the price even higher.

Sarah Lawrence College is the most expensive college in America. This is no surprise, as the school has also sat atop other lists such as this one in recent years. It’s quite possibly part of Sarah Lawrence’s crafty marketing strategy to maintain a ridiculously high price. Whatever the case, you should take the order of schools with something of a pinch of salt. Exact costs are sometimes hard to pin down, as mentioned above. Ultimately, the sticker prices at each of these schools are all impossibly expensive.

The list of schools along with their unavoidable costs is below, but don’t miss the slideshow to find out exactly what you could buy instead of tuition at these overpriced schools.

12. Connecticut College, New London CT ($57,800)

11. The George Washington University, Washington DC ($57,935)

10. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY ($58,100)

9. Trinity College, Hartford CT ($58,600)

8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD ($59,020)

7. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY ($59,070)

6. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont CA ($59,100)

5. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA ($59,700)

4. Wesleyan University, Middletown CT ($59,300)

3. Columbia University, New York NY ($59,800)

2. New York University, New York NY ($60,907)

1. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville NY ($62,236)

 

Click an image below for larger version.
  • 12. Connecticut College, New London CT (unavoidable annual costs: $57,800). What you get for $57,800: Residence halls throw Festivus parties each year and there is an all-campus Festivus dance.
  • What you could buy with $57,800 instead: your very own Lupe Fiasco concert. Boise State University paid the rapper $55,000 for a one-night only appearance at the school’s Spring Fling in 2011. You’d even have $2,800 to spare for a class or two at a community college. Photo/Creative Commons - Julio Enriquez
  • 11. The George Washington University, Washington DC (unavoidable annual costs: $57,935). What you get for $57,935: A completely superfluous part of speech. The word “the” at the beginning of GW’s name puts it in the elite company of only a few schools, such as The Ohio State University and The Citadel. Photo/Creative Commons - Agamitsudo
  • What you could buy with $57,935 instead: a Big Mac every single day for roughly the next 41 years.
  • 10. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY (unavoidable annual costs: $58,100). What you get for $58,100: Ghosts. Supernatural lore is somewhat pervasive at Vassar. Main Building in particular is reportedly filled with the disembodied spirits of dead alumnae and, possibly, clerical staff. Matthew Vassar himself may haunt the fourth floor. Photo/Creative Commons - Sabatheus (Jim Mills)
  • What you could buy with $58,100 instead: a 2013 Audi S5 3.0T Quattro Premium Plus ($58,100). Photo/Yahoo! Autos
  • 9. Trinity College, Hartford CT (unavoidable annual costs: $58,600). What you get for $58,600: You get to walk in the hallowed footsteps of Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, the founders of the website you are reading right now. Photo/Creative Commons - Amherst2005
  • What you could buy with $58,600 instead: The allegedly beautiful Baracci wedding dress ($58,000) worn by blushing bride Kim Zolciak, a reality television star on the Bravo series “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Zolciak bought it used, though. You could have bought it brand-spanking new—and still have $600 left over for a cut-rate deejay and a few hors d’oeuvres. Photo - www.preownedweddingdresses.com/blog/kim-zolclaks-wedding-dress
  • 8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD (unavoidable annual costs: $59,020). What you get for $59,020: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and convicted perjurer Alger Hiss graduated from Johns Hopkins. So you can have the same basic college experience enjoyed by both a soda-hating nanny statist and a Soviet spy.
  • What you could buy with $59,020 instead: Why not see the country? You can – in style and comfort – in a gently used 1995 Monaco Signature Crown Royal ($58,500). The closet space is probably more than you’ll have in any dorm room and you’ll even have a couple hundred bucks left over after your purchase to spend on gasoline. Photo - http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/1995-Monaco-Signature-Crown-Royal-106142370
  • 7. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY (unavoidable annual costs: $59,070). What you get for $59,070: The performing arts building is one of those wavy, silver Frank Gehry creations that looks like every other Frank Gehry creation, which is nice if you are into that sort of thing. Photo/Creative Commons - Pmasck
  • What you could buy with $59,070 instead: Your very own 1978 Piper PA-28-161 ($59,000), a cozy little aircraft that is still used in basic flight training around the world (though not exactly the one shown here). Photo/Flickr - S.H. Free Photos
  • 6. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont CA (unavoidable annual costs: $59,100). What you get for $59,100: 242 painted signs, 115 bronze plaques and at least one person who bothered to count these things. Photo/Facebook - Claremont McKenna College
  • What you could buy with $59,100 instead: A 2007 John Deere 700J LGP bulldozer with a root rake ($59,000). Why major in film studies or for that matter economics at CMC when you could be clearing roads, digging trenches, and otherwise making yourself useful? Photo - http://macon-ga.americanlisted.com/garden-house/2007-john-deere-700j-lgp-bulldozer-59000-dudleyga_21995319.html
  • 5. Wesleyan University, Middletown CT (unavoidable annual costs: $59,300). What you get for $59,300: Appalling speech censorship. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) points out that Wesleyan’s student handbook provides the fragile flowers who are students here “the right to be protected against actions that may be harmful to the health or emotional stability of the individual.” Photo/Creative Commons - Joe Mabel
  • What you could buy with $59,300 instead: Great seats for you and eight of your best friends to see Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans. (Each ticket is about $6,500.) You can go to college during any four or so years of your life. How often do you get to see the Super Bowl? Hmm? Photo/Creative Commons - Nwill21
  • What you could buy with $59,700 instead: a Humvee kit modeled on the genuine wartime vehicle from the General Motors division that specializes in military vehicles. The cost for the kit is $59,000, engine not included. But if you have the brain power and mechanical acumen to attend Carnegie Mellon, building an engine is among the least of your worries. Photo - http://www.autoblog.com/2012/08/02/am-general-to-offer-civilian-humvee-kit-car/
  • 3. Columbia University, New York NY (unavoidable annual costs: $59,800). What you get for $59,800: Columbia is legendary for its East German-level morass of red tape. Thus, you will receive a vital education in how to deal with a horrendous bureaucracy. Photo/Creative Commons - Petri Krohn
  • What you could buy with $59,800 instead: Three luxurious nights in the Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt, Vendome, Paris (nightly rate: around $20,000). Why spend four years in dingy Manhattan digs when you could splurge on three nights in the City of Light? You’ll have to come up with an extra $200 (and airfare) but it’s Paris! Photo/Facebook - Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
  • 2. New York University, New York NY (unavoidable annual costs: $60,907). What you get for $60,907: A suicide-proof library. In 2003, two students killed themselves by jumping to their deaths in NYU’s Bobst Library atrium. Another suicide occurred in 2009. You are unlikely to be tempted by such a fate now, though, because floor-to-ceiling metal barriers have been erected to enclose potential jump points. Photo/Creative Commons - Beyond My Ken
  • What you could buy with $60,907 instead: You have to save four years of tuition for this one, but you can buy a five-bedroom home with a practical, open floor plan in North Aurora, Illinois for $242,500 (according to Redfin.com). You’ll even have about $1100 left over. Plus, it’s, you know, a house. Photo - http://www.redfin.com/IL/North-Aurora/409-N-Sycamore-Ln-60542/home/16917260
  • 1. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville NY (unavoidable annual costs: $62,236). What you get for $62,236: You can follow in the pirouettes and footsteps of Rahm Emanuel, the foul-mouthed mayor of Chicago who honed his ballet skills at SLC.  Photo/Creative Commons - Joe Vainner
  • What you could buy with $62,236 instead: This one also requires saving for four years, but you can buy a 12-acre island in Maine for $250,000, about $500 less than the total undergraduate cost at SLC. You won’t be able to complete one of the many SLC majors that end in the word “studies.” However, this island offers rustic charm and fishing galore, and no one ever caught a fish with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies. Photo - http://www.privateislandsonline.com/islands/pine-island-maine