20 Most Expensive Colleges In 2023

Most Expensive Colleges

Are you curious about the most expensive colleges to attend in 2023? Well, you’re not alone.

College is one of the few good and services where you know that people are paying $0 to attend, and you know that people are paying full price – and most people are paying somewhere in between. 

So even though the colleges in the list below have a high sticker price, it doesn’t mean that you personally will pay the price if you decide to apply and attend.

So, just what are the most expensive colleges to attend? Check out our list of 20 expensive universities below based on their tuition and fees for the 2022-2023 school year.

Most Expensive Colleges List

Here is the list of the top 20 most expensive colleges and universities in the United States based on their published tuition and fees for a single year:

College

Tuition Cost

1. Franklin & Marshall College

$65,652

2. Columbia University

$65,524

3. Reed College

$64,450

4. Vassar College

$63,840

5. Tufts University

$63,804

6. University of Southern California

$63,468

7. Boston College

$62,950

8. Haverford

$62,850

9. Brown University

$62,680

10. Harvey Mudd College

$62,516

11. Northwestern University

$62,391

12. University of Chicago

$61,179

13. Wellesley College

$61,584

14. Oberlin College

$61,106

15. Sarah Lawrence College

$60,700

16. Dartmouth College

$60,687

17. University of Rochester

$60,550

18. Johns Hopkins University

$60,480

19. Claremont McKenna College

$60,480

20. Barnard College

$60,478

It’s easy to notice that all of these colleges and universities are charging students over $60,000 per year to attend. That equates to over $240,000 for an undergraduate degree, assuming that the student is paying full price. These numbers don’t include room, board, and other expenses like textbooks. All-in-all, students attending these schools and paying full price could see a total cost in excess of $80,000 per year. 

Here’s a more detailed look at each school.

1. Franklin & Marshall College

Tuition Cost: $65,652

Franklin & Marshall College is an undergraduate liberal arts college that touts itself as one of the oldest colleges in the United States. Franklin College was founded in 1787 with a financial gift from Benjamin Franklin. In 1853 it merged with Marshall College to become the organization it is today.

The college is fairly small, having a student body of just 2,400 students, but it does offer 60 fields of study.

2. Columbia University

Tuition Cost: $65,524

Columbia University is the oldest college in America, as it was founded in 1754, and one of the most expensive. As one of the original nine Colonial Colleges in the US, it has a long history and offers courses and majors in many different fields of study, ranging from ancient studies to anthropology to English to economics to business and more.

Keep in mind that Columbia University’s acceptance rate is quite low, hovering around 5.5%. You’ll need to be quite competitive to get in. If you are accepted, you can hopefully benefit from financial aid opportunities, including an annual grant of over $66,000 for international students.

3. Reed College

Tuition Cost: $64,450

Reed College is a Portland, OR liberal arts college that was founded in 1908 (surprisingly making that one of the newer colleges on this list). Reed has roughly 40 bachelor of arts programs, and has a student population of 1,400. They promise small class sizes and a low teacher to student ratio.

4. Vassar College

Tuition Cost: $63,840

Vassar is an independent liberal arts college located in New York that was founded in 1861. It started as a women’s college, but it opened it’s doors to men in 1969.

Vassar College is a relatively small school, with just 2,500 students spread across 51 different majors.

5. Tufts University

Tuition Cost: $63,804

Located in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts University is one of the best art schools in America. Even with the higher sticker price, it could be an excellent choice if you have financial need, as Tufts may pay for your entire education if you demonstrate good grades. 

6. University of Southern California

Tuition Cost: $63,468

The University of Southern California, or USC, is well known both for its academic programs and for its football team, which dominates the fields each year. Go to this school if you’re interested in film and photography, as USC’s programs for both are well-ranked and regarded as the best in their respective industries.They also have one of the largest sports programs of schools on this list.

7. Boston College

Tuition Cost: $62,950

Boston College was founded in 1863 in Boston, MA. Today, it has an undergraduate, graduate, and professional school centered around its liberal arts programs. Boston College is one of the larger schools on this list, with an enrollment of 15,000 students across 50 fields of student. They also have one of the larger sports program compared to other schools on this list.

8. Haverford

Tuition Cost: $62,850

Haverford College was founded in 1833 in Haverford, PA. This liberal arts college focuses on an education based on discussion and debate of ideas. With just 1,400 students, this small liberal arts school still has over 50 majors to choose from.

9. Brown University

Tuition Cost: $62,680

This Ivy League university is located in Providence, Rhode Island, and only has a 7% acceptance rate. That said, it’s arguably the top school for English studies in the US overall, so consider going here if you want to be a writer or literature professor.

10. Harvey Mudd College

Tuition Cost: $62,516

Harvey Mudd College is widely considered to be one of the most expensive universities in the US and one of the priciest colleges worldwide. That said, there’s a lot to like about this university, namely the fact that it produces tons of STEM Ph.D. graduates (because its STEM programs are renowned and well-rated). 

Of particular note is the top-tier engineering program, which is among the best in the country. If you want to go to school for science, mathematics, and information technology, Harvey Mudd could be a great bet (provided you have the financial means to attend).

11. Northwestern University

Tuition Cost: $62,391

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois and charges a high price for attendance. But it’s also an excellent school for communications studies in journalism majors; many future writers for major newspapers and online news sites go here to get their educations.

12. University of Chicago

Tuition Cost: $61,179

The University of Chicago is an Illinois-based school that has a sterling reputation and that offers top-ranked programs in all areas, ranging from economics to sociology to law. The University of Chicago has many different financial aid packages for low-income students. It’s also particularly well known for its alumni network, which graduates can leverage for job opportunities and for partnerships well after leaving school.

13. Wellesley College

Tuition Cost: $61,584

Wellesley College is a well-known liberal arts school in Massachusetts, and it’s particularly well-regarded as a women’s school. Consider attending here if you’re a woman and want a female-oriented education that will help you secure competitive professional spots in the future.

14. Oberlin College

Tuition Cost: $61,106

Oberlin is a liberal arts college with a world renowned conservatory – and it places a huge focus on the arts in education. Located in Ohio, this school has roughly 3,000 students. Even though it’s one of the most expensive colleges in the United States, roughly two-thirds of its students receive financial aid.

15. Sarah Lawrence College

Tuition Cost: $60,700

Sarah Lawrence College was founded in 1926 and is one of the top liberal arts colleges available today. It’s particularly well known and respected for its inclusion of women in academia – female college attendees will find a very supportive culture here that they can use for support. There are 12 programs offered in total, but students can also design custom courses based on their unique liberal arts career goals.

16. Dartmouth College

Tuition Cost: $60,687

Dartmouth College is the ninth oldest college in the US, and it was established in 1769. It offers many top-rated programs and majors in topics like African-American studies, anthropology, and neuroscience. If you demonstrate significant financial need, Dartmouth may pay for 100% of your expenses, including student employment or work-study programs.

17. University of Rochester

Tuition Cost: $60,550

University of Rochester is another of the larger colleges on this list. It was founded in 1850, and currently has a student enrollment of 12,000. This college boasts a huge variety of programs, including art and music, engineering, sciences, medicine and dentistry, business, and education. With over 200 academic programs, there are lots of opportunities for students.

18. Johns Hopkins University

Tuition Cost: $60,480

Johns Hopkins University is one of the most expensive universities worldwide, and it’s located in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s particularly well known for its pre-med and medical school, computer science, biomedical engineering, and cybersecurity courses and programs. As a private research university, it’s a great place to study if you plan on acquiring a Ph.D. and performing your own research projects in the future. 

19. Claremont McKenna College

Tuition Cost: $60,480

Claremont McKenna College is a political science and business management college first and foremost, though it also has a very strong liberal arts department. Therefore, this could be a great university to attend if you are interested in any of these areas. In addition, Claremont McKenna College has 11 distinct research centers, so it’s ideal if a future of professional research sounds right for you.

20. Barnard College

Tuition Cost: $60,478

Barnard College is one of the last remaining women’s colleges in the United States. Located in New York City, this college has roughly 3,000 students enrolled across 50 different majors. It also has a partnership with Columbia University (also on this list) to provide classes and resources as well.

Remember: You Don’t Have To Pay The Sticker Price

While the sticker price of these colleges can be scary – the top 20 most expensive colleges all have prices over $60,000 per year for just tuition – it’s important to remember that you don’t have to pay full price.

In fact, only 38% of undergraduate students pay full price according to research by Mark Kantrowitz. And with that in mind, you also know there are a number of students paying $0 due to scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.

So even though the list price may be $60,000, most students will be paying less than that amount every year. 

Related: How To Pay For College

Tuition Free College

On the flip side of this equation, there are quite a few tuition-free colleges available to students. Tuition-free doesn’t mean they are “free” overall – you may still have to pay for housing, books, and more, but they would be substantially cheaper than the options on this list.

Furthermore, there are options like community college or 2-year college, which is free in over half of the United States. This type of school could allow you to take undergraduate general education classes, and then transfer to another school to complete your 4-year degree. 

How To Lower The Cost You Pay For College

Even if you want to attend one of these extremely expensive colleges, there may be ways to lower the price you pay through financial aid incentives.

Most of these college advertise generous financial aid packages. Financial aid may come in the form of scholarships (both need-based and merit-based), grants, work study, fellowships, and student loans

To start, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and potentially the CSS Profile, depending on whether your college requires it (and many expensive private schools do).

Once you fill out these forms, your college’s financial aid office will make a decision regarding potential aid. When you receive an admissions decision, you’ll also receive a financial aid award notification that will tell you how much financial aid you will receive if you accept their offer.

Depending on various circumstances, you could potentially appeal your financial aid award and ask for more assistance if you need it. 

The bottom line is that you may be able to lower the cost you pay for college out of pocket.

Final Thoughts

College is expensive. And these schools are unusually expensive. The average tuition at a private college is $39,400, and all of these colleges are advertising tuition in excess of $60,000 per year.

However, just because a college or university is expensive doesn’t mean that you personally will pay that price. With all of the various financial aid options available, you could see a significantly reduced out-of-pocket price. 

So don’t let the advertised tuition cost scare you away from applying. If one of these expensive colleges is your dream school, you should apply. Just make sure that you also fill out the FAFSA and see if you can get a generous financial aid package as well. 

Because while these schools may be prestigious, it’s important to make sure that college is worth it and you get a positive ROI on your education

Editor: Claire Tak

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