Special Report

The Most Expensive Colleges in America

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In today’s digital world, where artificial intelligence is projected to replace many jobs, the higher education system is more scrutinized than ever. While long-term tuition has been rising, because of the recent rampant inflation, the cost of attending college has actually declined after adjusting for inflation compared to a decade ago. Still, getting a higher education is not cheap.

In the 2023-24 school year, average estimated budgets (tuition and fees, housing and food, and allowances for books and supplies, transportation and other personal expenses) for full-time undergraduate students range from $28,840 for public four-year in-state students to $46,730 for public four-year out-of-state students and $60,420 for private nonprofit four-year students, according to the College Board 2023 report Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid.

This is the sticker price, which takes into account every cost component, including annual tuition fees, cost of room, board, books, and even library card fees or parking permits, among others. However, most students will pay the net price, which also considers all financial aid offered to students, including grants, scholarships, and education tax benefits. The net price of attending college in 2023-24 is estimated at an average of $20,310 at public colleges and of $34,790 at private colleges. (Here are The 50 Hardest Colleges and Universities to Get Into, Ranked.)

To determine the 50 most expensive colleges in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on average annual net price from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Colleges and universities were ranked based on average annual net price – the annual cost of tuition, books, room and board, minus any financial aid – for full-time, first-time degree-seeking undergraduate students who received grant or scholarship aid in the 2021-22 school year — the most recent year of data available. Only public and private nonprofit schools that predominantly grant bachelor’s degrees and had at least 1,000 undergraduates enrolled in fall 2022 were considered.

All the schools on the list are private nonprofit institutions. They start at an average net price of just over $39,000 for Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and end with Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, which costs over $55,000 annually to attend. In 25 of the 50 most expensive colleges, the most popular field of study is business management and administrative services.

In 32 schools on the list, the acceptance rate is 50% or over. Eight schools have acceptance rates below 40%. The hardest school to get accepted to on the list is Tulane University of Louisiana in New Orleans, with an 11% acceptance rate. The private research university is rated A+ overall by Niche, a school ranking provider. (These are The Hardest College To Get Into In Every State.)

The average amount of student loans awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates among the schools on the list ranges from about $4,100 among students at Dominican University of California in San Rafael to over $17,000 among students at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

50. Pitzer College (Pitzer|Pfizer|PZ|PTZ|PIT)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $39,809
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $4,829
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 18%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,212
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

49. Whitman College

Source: theslowlane / Flickr
  • Location: Walla Walla, Washington
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $39,935
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $6,438
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 48%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,493
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

48. Bucknell University

Source: governortomwolf / Flickr
  • Location: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $39,965
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $11,397
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 33%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,747
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

47. Eckerd College

Silhouette of graduate against sun shining
Source: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com
  • Location: Saint Petersburg, Florida
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $40,119
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $11,150
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 65%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,993
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

46. High Point University (HPU)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: High Point, North Carolina
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $40,221
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,079
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 79%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 5,036
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

45. Bryant University

Source: stevegeer / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Smithfield, Rhode Island
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $40,361
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $13,242
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 69%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,204
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

44. Union College

Source: Katie Dobies / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Schenectady, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,136
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,270
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 47%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 2,107
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

43. University of Puget Sound

Source: ivanastar / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Tacoma, Washington
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,363
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,519
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 83%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,712
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

42. American University

Graduate study abroad program to broaden learner's world view, education concept Graduation cap, foreign books on a table, depicting students attempt to study from a distance or learning from home.
Source: William Potter / Shutterstock.com
  • Location: Washington, District of Columbia
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,369
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,129
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 41%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,917
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

41. Elon University

Source: BSPollard / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Elon, North Carolina
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,527
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,977
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 74%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 6,337
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

40. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (R-HIT|RHIT|Rose Polytechnic)

Source: sillysocks / Flickr
  • Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,678
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,038
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 73%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 2,169
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

39. Stevens Institute of Technology (Stevens)

Source: John Penney / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $41,689
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,599
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 46%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 4,070
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

38. University of Denver (DU, Colorado Seminary)

Source: Carl Hill / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $42,423
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,961
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 78%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 6,151
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

37. The University of the Arts (UArts)

Source: William Thomas Cain / Getty Images
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $42,467
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,846
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 80%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,170
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

36. George Washington University (GWU|GW)

Source: krblokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Washington, District of Columbia
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $42,723
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,893
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 49%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 11,482
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

35. Sarah Lawrence College

Source: Mod Quaint / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Bronxville, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $42,781
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,120
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 50%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,462
  • Most popular field of study: Liberal Arts and Humanities

34. University of San Francisco

Source: Sundry Photography / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $42,953
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,671
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 71%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 6,018
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

33. Kenyon College

Source: docsearls / Flickr
  • Location: Gambier, Ohio
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,044
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,029
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 34%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,885
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

32. Connecticut College

Source: romanboed / Flickr
  • Location: New London, Connecticut
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,220
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,595
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 40%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,948
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

31. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Source: aimintang / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,545
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,965
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 80%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,403
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

30. Syracuse University

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Syracuse, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,651
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,986
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 52%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 15,421
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

29. Scripps College

shot of graduation hats during commencement success graduates of the university, Concept education congratulation. Graduation Ceremony ,Congratulated the graduates in University.
Source: fongbeerredhot / Shutterstock.com
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,923
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $5,351
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 28%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,080
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

28. Fordham University

Source: edenpictures / Flickr
  • Location: Bronx, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,943
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,406
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 54%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 10,098
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

27. Providence College

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $43,970
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,247
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 53%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,996
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

26. Texas Christian University (TCU)

Source: andyleeadams / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $44,190
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $14,299
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 56%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 10,523
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

25. Bentley University (Bentley)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $44,233
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $11,610
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 58%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 4,131
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

24. Occidental College (Oxy)

Source: thadz / Flickr
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $44,853
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,272
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 39%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,942
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

23. Chapman University

Source: elipousson / Flickr
  • Location: Orange, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,033
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,312
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 73%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,869
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

22. Southern Methodist University (SMU)

Source: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Dallas, Texas
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,094
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,369
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 52%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,056
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

21. Sacred Heart University (SHU)

Sacred Heart v UNC
Source: 2006 Getty Images / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images
  • Location: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,280
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,381
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 66%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 6,782
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

20. Brandeis University

Source: Wolterk / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,565
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,017
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 39%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,687
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

19. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Source: wellesenterprises / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Savannah, Georgia
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,976
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $13,317
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 82%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 13,582
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

18. Baylor University

Source: chapin31 / Getty Images
  • Location: Waco, Texas
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $45,988
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $14,404
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 46%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 15,213
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

17. Fairfield University

Connecticut Students Taken Hostage
Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • Location: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $46,065
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,262
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 52%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 4,757
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

16. Oberlin College

Source: kim willems / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: Oberlin, Ohio
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $46,462
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $5,013
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 35%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 2,986
  • Most popular field of study: Biological Sciences/Life Sciences

15. Berklee College of Music

Source: ChandraDhas / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $46,873
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $17,737
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 54%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,499
  • Most popular field of study: Education

14. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
  • Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $46,876
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $14,168
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 57%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 5,246
  • Most popular field of study: Engineering

13. Pratt Institute-Main (Pratt Institute)

Academic College Degree Education Insight Concept
Source: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com
  • Location: Brooklyn, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $47,326
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $9,490
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 50%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,934
  • Most popular field of study: Education

12. Pepperdine University

Source: kenlund / Flickr
  • Location: Malibu, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $47,804
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,440
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 49%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 3,662
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

11. California College of the Arts

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $47,862
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,631
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 76%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,145
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

10. Otis College of Art and Design (Otis Art Institute, Otis Parsons, Otis/Parsons)

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $48,198
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,042
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 83%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,268
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

9. Dominican University of California (DUofC)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: San Rafael, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $49,907
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $4,151
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 93%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,139
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

8. Tulane University of Louisiana (Tulane University)

Source: RAUL RODRIGUEZ / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $50,263
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,283
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 11%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 8,785
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

7. Santa Clara University (SCU)

Source: jejim / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Santa Clara, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $50,551
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,778
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 52%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 6,115
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

6. Emerson College (Emerson)

Source: Christopher Capozziello / Getty Images
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $51,432
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $12,551
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 43%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 4,155
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

5. Loyola Marymount University

Source: Lisa Bronitt / iStock via Getty Images
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $52,815
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $8,634
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 41%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,299
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

4. Art Center College of Design

Source: seier / Flickr
  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $53,617
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $7,458
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 71%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 2,135
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

3. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Source: Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $53,923
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,796
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 79%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 2,819
  • Most popular field of study: Education

2. The New School (New School University; Parsons The New School for Design; New School for Social Research; Eugene Lang College; Mannes College; The New School for Drama; The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music; The New School for Public Engagement)

Source: sergeigussev / Flickr
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $55,480
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,379
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 57%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 7,171
  • Most popular field of study: Business Management and Administrative Services

1. Ringling College of Art and Design (Ringling College)

Graphic designer work on computer laptop and with graphic drawing pen while brainstorming unique design with professional graphic team in modern digital studio workplace. Panorama shot. Scrutinize
Source: Summit Art Creations / Shutterstock.com
  • Location: Sarasota, Florida
  • Avg. annual net price, 2021-22: $55,752
  • Avg. amount of student loan, 2021-22: $10,619
  • Percent admitted, 2022: 65%
  • Undergraduate enrollment, fall 2022: 1,705
  • Most popular field of study: Visual and performing arts

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