10 most and cheapest private colleges | The shortlist: colleges


The US News Short List, separate from our overall ranking, is a regular series that amplifies individual data points in the hopes of providing students and parents with a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have the possibility of developing in specific areas. Be sure to explore the Shortlist: College, Shortlist: Graduate Schools, and Shortlist: Online Programs to find the data that interests you in your college or graduate school search.

Finding college often faces an old but increasingly difficult question for families: How can we afford it?

With tuition fees out of control, families are paying far more now than they were in previous decades. US News data shows that tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 school year cost an average of $ 38,185 in ranked private schools. The average tuition fee for international students attending classified public colleges is $ 22,698, and the average tuition in public institutions in public institutions is $ 10,338.

Some college officials indicate that financial difficulties are one of the most common reasons students drop out.

As tuition fees continue to rise, families are under increasing financial pressure, especially with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted the work of millions of people. Price-sensitive families – a description that suits many – should consider what they can afford without accumulating a student debt burden that can take years to repay, depending on the amount borrowed.

Families would be well served to understand tuition fees and factor it into their search for college.

US News collected data on tuition fees as part of an annual survey sent to colleges in the spring and summer of 2021. Among the results of this data is that of the 705 ranked private colleges that provided their tuition fees and their 2021-2022 fees, 145 have sticker prices. over $ 50,000 for the year. In contrast, only 55 private colleges reported tuition and annual fees below $ 20,000.

Among the 10 colleges reporting the highest tuition and fees, two schools – Columbia University in New York and the University of Pennsylvania – are ranked in the top 10 national universities, often research-oriented institutions and offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Columbia is tied at No. 2 while Penn is ranked at No. 8. Keep in mind, however, that the tuition fee alone is not factored into the overall ranking methodology, although calculations assess schools on the average indebtedness of their graduates.

Four of the 10 most expensive private colleges are classified as national universities and the other six are national liberal arts colleges, which focus on undergraduate education and award half or more of their degrees in the fields. liberal arts. Colgate University in New York and Wesleyan University in Connecticut, both tied at No. 17, are the top-ranked national liberal arts colleges on this list.

Tuition and fees at these 10 colleges average $ 62,601, according to data from US News.

The majority of the 10 private colleges with the highest tuition and fees are located on the East Coast, New York claiming three. But there are two geographic outliers: Colorado College and Kenyon College in Ohio.

While these tuition fee figures can be mind-boggling, families need to understand that sticker prices are not always what they will end up paying once institutional grants and scholarships are applied, thus lowering overall costs.

At the opposite end of this cost range are private colleges in the 50 states and Washington, DC, which reported the lowest tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 school year. The average cost is much lower among those 10 schools, amounting to $ 11,642 according to US News data.

Of those 10 colleges, the lowest price is found at Brigham Young University — Provo in Utah, which reported tuition and fees for 2021-2022 at $ 6,120. BYU is tied at No. 79 in the category of domestic universities. A caveat regarding the cost of the school, however, is that this award is only for students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the faith with which BYU is affiliated. Students who are not members must pay double the tuition fee listed, according to BYU’s website, at $ 12,240 for the year.

Colleges reporting the lowest tuition rates are a mix of national universities and national liberal arts colleges, as well as a regional university – a category that encompasses schools that offer bachelor’s degrees, some master’s programs and limited options at the doctoral level – and several regional colleges, institutions that focus on undergraduate education but award less than half of their degrees in liberal arts fields. The 10 cheapest private colleges are also geographically diverse, widely distributed across the United States

The tables below show which schools in the 50 states and Washington, DC are charging the most and the least in tuition and fees in 2021-2022, as reported to US News this spring and summer. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by US News to be ranked numerically, were not considered for this report.

The most expensive schools

Columbia University (NY)
$ 63,530 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
2 (equality), National universities Ranking and category of American news
Kenyon College (Ohio)
$ 63,310 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
30 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Tufts University (MA)
$ 63,000 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
28 (equality), National universities Ranking and category of American news
Vassar College (NY)
$ 62,870 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
22 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Brown University (RI)
$ 62,404 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
14 (equality), National universities Ranking and category of American news
Colorado College
$ 62,070 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
26, National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Colgate University (NY)
$ 61,966 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Wesleyan University (CT)
$ 61,749 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
University of Pennsylvania
$ 61,710 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
8, National universities Ranking and category of American news

School name (state)

Tuition and fees 2021-2022

Ranking and category of American news

Columbia University (NY) $ 63,530 2 (equality), National universities
Franklin & Marshall College (AP) $ 63,401 42 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Kenyon College (Ohio) $ 63,310 30 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Tufts University (MA) $ 63,000 28 (equality), National universities
Vassar College (NY) $ 62,870 22 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Brown University (RI) $ 62,404 14 (equality), National universities
Colorado College $ 62,070 26, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University (NY) $ 61,966 17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wesleyan University (CT) $ 61,749 17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of Pennsylvania $ 61,710 8, National universities

The cheapest schools

Stillman College (AL)
$ 11,025 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Tougaloo College (MS)
$ 11,398 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news
Wilmington University (DE)
$ 11,750 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
299-391, National universities Ranking and category of American news
Wiley College (TX)
$ 12,500 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
36, Regional Colleges (West) Ranking and category of American news
Voorhees College (SC)
$ 12,630 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
48 (tie), Regional Colleges (South) Ranking and category of American news
National University (CA)
$ 13,320 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
94-122, Regional universities (West) Ranking and category of American news
Allen University (SC)
$ 13,340 Tuition and fees 2021-2022
168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking and category of American news

School name (state)

Tuition and fees 2021-2022

Ranking and category of American news

Brigham Young University — Provo (UT) $ 6,120 79 (equality), National universities
Stillman College (AL) $ 11,025 168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Louis National University (IL) $ 11,325 299-391, National universities
Tougaloo College (MS) $ 11,398 168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wilmington University (DE) $ 11,750 299-391, National universities
Wiley College (TX) $ 12,500 36, Regional Colleges (West)
Voorhees College (SC) $ 12,630 48 (tie), Regional Colleges (South)
Philander Smith College (AR) $ 13,014 42, Regional Colleges (South)
National University (CA) $ 13,320 94-122, Regional universities (West)
Allen University (SC) $ 13,340 168-222, National Liberal Arts Colleges

US News polled more than 1,850 colleges and universities for our 2021 undergraduate program survey. Schools have self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and student body composition, among other areas, making US News data the most accurate and detailed collection of academic facts and figures of its kind. While US News uses much of this survey data to rank schools in our annual ranking of top colleges, the data can also be useful when looked at on a smaller scale. US News will now produce data lists, separate from the overall rankings, intended to provide students and parents with a way to find which schools are excelling or have room to grow in specific areas that are important to them. Although the data is from the schools themselves, these lists are unrelated and have no influence on US News rankings of top colleges, top graduate schools, or top online programs. The above tuition and fee data is correct as of September 13, 2021.


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