The Most Expensive Colleges in the US

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The 10 Most Expensive College in the US (2022 Updated)

Studying in the U.S. isn’t cheap. Or well, it can be if you’re okay with attending a community college that is. But for those who have their sights set on attending one of the U.S.’s prestigious universities, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.

To some people, these tuitions are blasphemy. How could something as necessary to the development of our country like education be so expensive? To others, they see it as an investment. Something that will eventually pay off in the long run.

In this article, you are going to learn what are the most expensive colleges in the U.S., and what you can expect by attending them. They say ‘you get what you pay for’, so let’s see if that adage holds any truth when it comes to these colleges.

Why are College Prices so High?

There are a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is that colleges are becoming increasingly ‘luxurious’. In order to attract the best and brightest students from around the globe, schools are constantly trying to outdo each other by building new state-of-the-art facilities, hiring famous professors, and offering more and more extracurricular activities.

Another reason college prices have been increasing is because, quite simply, there’s more demand for it than ever before. More and more people are going to college now than at any other point in history. And as we all know, when there’s high demand for something, the price usually goes up.

Federal grants and loans are also partly to blame. Because the government is willing to lend students money, colleges have been able to increase their prices without fear that fewer people will attend.

So those are some of the reasons behind why college is so expensive. But what about when it comes to specific colleges? Which ones take the cake when it comes to being the most expensive in the U.S.?

Why Is College So Expensive?

There are a lot of reasons why college is so expensive these days. In general, college tuition prices have been creeping up thanks to factors such as inflation, decreased state funding, higher enrollment, and more. However, some schools can also be more expensive than others due to certain characteristics.

Private vs. Public Colleges

Private universities tend to be more expensive than public ones, in part because of how they’re funded. While public schools receive funding from the federal, state, and local governments, private schools rely on donations and tuition money to cover costs. However, even though private colleges tend to be more expensive on paper, it’s possible for an expensive private school to have a lower net cost than a public school if it awards a significant amount of financial aid to its students.


Where a college is located can also affect the cost of tuition. For one, attending college as an out-of-state student raises the price considerably; public colleges are run and funded by the state via taxes, so residents of the state can attend those schools at lower tuition rates. Colleges that are located in high cost-of-living areas may also charge higher tuition prices.


Along with cost, a school’s reputation is often a major deciding factor for prospective students. However, you might not realize that the two go hand-in-hand. Highly reputable colleges usually charge higher costs to attend, while less reputable colleges tend to charge lower rates.

The 20 Most Expensive Colleges in the US

Wondering how U.S. college costs compare? We ranked the top 20 most expensive four-year colleges based on annual cost of attendance for the 2019-2020 school year, along with their net costs (including financial aid). Note that the ranking excludes community colleges, technical schools, and other colleges focused on highly specialized degrees.

School and Location Total Cost for In-State Students Living on Campus Average Net Cost for In-State Students Living on Campus (Includes Financial Aid)
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) $81,531 $27,315
Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, NY) $79,752 $23,306
Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA) $79,539 $32,727
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) $78,654 $24,664
Barnard College (New York, NY) $78,044 $28,204
Scripps College (Claremont, CA) $77,588 $32,709
Brown University (Providence, RI) $77,490 $29,392
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) $77,459 $29,528
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) $77,264 $25,802
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH) $77,152 $33,574
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH) $77,124 $34,077
Duke University (Durham, NC) $77,029 $27,020
Washington University in St Louis (St. Louis, MO) $76,910 $26,869
Fordham University (Bronx, NY) $76,891 $36,761
Trinity College (Hartford, CT) $76,850 $34,460
Amherst College (Amherst, MA) $76,750 $18,524
Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) $76,710 $36,222
Yale University (New Haven, CT) $76,645 $17,549
Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA) $76,600 $29,638
Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA) $76,475 $22,161