This week the U.S. Department of Education released lists of the most expensive state and private colleges and universities in America.
The goal of pointing fingers, which was mandated by Congress, was to shine the spotlight on schools which don’t seem at all ashamed of their high prices. Here’s where you can find all the college lists.
I wasn’t surprised to see that Sarah Lawrence University was the most expensive private school in America. Among state institutions, Penn State was the priciest followed by the University of Pittsburgh, University of Vermont and St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which is a rare public liberal arts college.
If you’re curious, I wrote a college blog post for CBS MoneyWatch yesterday that contains the hall of shame list for the priciest private schools here:
I left off the top five schools on the federal list of the most expensive private schools because these liberal arts colleges mistakenly included their room and board charges, but the list was supposed to only rank tuition costs.
The lists that I found far more relevant contained the schools that operated with the highest net prices. These lists showed the most expensive schools after average grants from the federal and state governments and the colleges themselves were subtracted from the sticker price.
I wasn’t surprised that many of the private schools near the top of this more relevant list were art and music related. Many art and music schools are expensive and their financial aid packages are often quite low. Beware if you are an artist or a musician, with few financial resources, who wants to go to one of these specialty schools.
Private Schools With Highest Net Prices
- Art Center College of Design $39,627
- The New School $39,004
- School of the Art Institute of Chicago $38,965
- The Boston Conservatory $37,798
- California Institute of the Arts $36,997
- Manhattan School of Music $36,208
- Rhode Island School of Design $35,991
- Pratt Institute $35,506
- Santa Clara University $35,245
- Northwestern Health Sciences University $35,062
- St. Joseph’s University $34,548
- Simmons College $34,498
- Drew University $34,379
- Beacon College $34,946
- New York University $34,011
Net Price Calculators Heading Your Way
Net price is far more important than sticker price, but families often don’t understand this. Help, however, is on the way! Beginning in late October every college and university in the country will have to install a net price calculator on their sites.
Some schools already have them up and running. These calculators aren’t going to be perfect but they will provide better information on real pricing than we have now. Here is a story that explains more about net pricing from the New America Foundation:
Net Price Data Provides Only a Limited Picture of Colleges’ Institutional Aid
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of Shrinking the Cost of College, a workbook available on her website. She also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. On Twitter follow her @CollegeBlogs.