The 50 most expensive colleges in America, ranked


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College is a little bit different in 2021, to say the least. For some schools, the number of applications soared (and acceptance rates plummeted). Many schools also waived the standardized tests required for applications.

For students in the era of COVID, just about the only thing that hasn't changed is the hefty bill — especially at these 50 pricey institutes of higher learning.

Some schools are cutting students a financial break (estimated discounts in the hundreds of dollars) while the pandemic limits on-campus life. After a wave of criticism from students and alumni, Duke University reduced its student activity and recreation fees for 2020.

The National Center for Education Statistics ranks the 50 most expensive four-year institutions in America by their published out-of-state tuition, annual fees and residential charges. (Note: All of the prices listed here are before need- and merit-based scholarships.)

Here's the latest data listing the most expensive colleges in America.

50. Stanford University

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The full cost for undergraduate students at Stanford, without financial aid, is $74,570 annually. 

That hefty price tag covers tuition, fees and room and board.

49. Connecticut College


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Before financial aid, students pay $74,590 for a year at Connecticut College.

That said, at last look, it had no application fee.

48. Bard College

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Upstate New York's Bard College costs $74,712 per year.

Most incoming students come from public high schools.

47. Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence College

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Sarah Lawrence College charges students $74,740 annually.

At last look, it had no application fee, and did not require standardized test scores.

46. Colorado College


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Colorado College charges $74,760 annually.

It had no application fee, and did not require standardized test scores.

45. California Institute of Technology

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Students at Caltech can expect a $74,763 bill each year.

It's one of the hardest schools in the nation to get into, and it's considered one of the best engineering schools in America.

44. Santa Clara University

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Santa Clara University in Northern California charges its out-of-state students $74,829 annually.

It's viewed as one of America's best Catholic colleges.

43. Tulane University


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Tulane University in New Orleans costs $74,884 per year.

It's ranked by Niche as America's No. 2 party school.

42. Boston University

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Students at Boston University shell out a whopping $75,002 for tuition, fees and on-campus lodging.

Ranking among the best of America's big colleges (with about 17,000 undergrads) the school attracts top students interested in physical therapy or a career in education.

41. Colgate University


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As a student at Colgate University in central New York, you'll pay, before financial aid, $75,015 annually.

Unlike some schools that don't have room to house all freshmen, Colgate accommodates 100% of its first-year students on campus.

40. Chapman University


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This university in California's Orange County costs students $75,112 each year.

Business is among the most popular majors for this Christian school.

39. Smith College

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Smith College in Massachusetts charges $75,169 a year.

It's ranked among the best women's colleges in the country.

38. University of Rochester


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In Rochester, New York, students at this school can expect a $75,190 bill in their mailboxes each year.

It ranks among the best colleges for nursing and music education in America.

37. Wellesley College

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One year at this women's liberal arts school in Massachusetts costs students $75,198 each.

It's also tough to get into; recent data puts the acceptance rate at a mere 16%.

36. Vassar College

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Students at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, pay $75,240 per year.

Students accepted at this school tend to get SAT scores of at least 1370.

35. Pepperdine University


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Want to go to college in Malibu, California? Pepperdine students pay $75,312 per year of schooling.

This private Christian school tends to attract students interested in a business major.

34. Bucknell University


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Tuition and fees for Bucknell University in Pennsylvania is $75,400 annually.

Economics is a popular major at this small school.

33. New York University

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Students at this Manhattan institution shell out $75,502 per year.

It consistently ranks among the best schools for film and photography.

32. Williams College

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Students at Williams College in northwestern Massachusetts pay $75,520 per year.

Williams is a small school with just over 2,000 students; 100% of freshmen live on campus.

31. Reed College


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Reed College in Portland, Oregon, costs $75,671 each year.

It's ranked by Niche as America's 10th best school with no application fee.

30. Franklin and Marshall College


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Students pay $75,720 annually at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Liberal arts and political science are among the most popular majors.

29. Wesleyan University

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As a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, before scholarships, you'll pay $75,723 for a year of school. 

At last look, the acceptance rate was 19.4%.

28. Pitzer College


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At Pitzer College in Claremont, California, students pay $75,850 annually.

At last look, the acceptance rate at this California school was 13%. 

27. Boston College

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If you want to call yourself a Boston College Eagle, you'll pay up to $75,886 per year.

It's ranked among America's best Catholic colleges.

26. Bennington College


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This liberal arts college in southwestern Vermont charges students $75,950 per year of schooling.

This very small school has about 690 undergrads.

25. Brandeis University


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Brandeis University in Massachusetts costs $76,141 per school year.

Economics is a popular major here.

24. Tufts University

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A student at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, pays $76,200 per year.

It ranks among the best schools for art in America.

23. Cornell University


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Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, a member of the Ivy League, charges out-of-state students $76,258 per year.

The application process is quite competitive, with acceptance rates at about 11%.

22. Georgetown University

Many Universities in the D.C. region have announced that the Fall 2020 semester will be fully online.

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Tuition, fees, and campus housing at this university in the nation's capital will run you $76,280 per year.

It's ranked by Niche as America's No. 2 Catholic college, behind only Notre Dame.

21. Haverford College

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Haverford College in Pennsylvania charges its students $76,384 annually.

Political science is a popular major.

20. Claremont McKenna College


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Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, costs $76,475 per year.

It has a 13.3% acceptance rate. A popular major is economics.

19. Occidental College


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Just down the road in Los Angeles, students pay $76,600 for a year at Occidental College.

Economics and biology are popular majors.

18. Yale University

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This elite Ivy League institution in New Haven, Connecticut, charges its students $76,645 per year.

Its acceptance rate is just 4.6%.

17. Southern Methodist University

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A student at Southern Methodist University in Texas faces a retail price of $76,710 per year.

Famous alumni include Kourtney Kardashian and former first lady Laura Bush.

16. Amherst College


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Amherst College in central Massachusetts costs $76,750 per school year.

The school has an 8% acceptance rate. 

15. Trinity College


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A student at Connecticut's Trinity College shells out $76,850 for a year of school.

It has an acceptance rate of 33%.

14. Fordham University

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Fordham University in New York City costs $76,891 per year.

This Catholic school ranks highly for academics.

13. Washington University

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Students at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, pay $76,910 per year.

It's ranked by Niche as No. 2 for design among all of America's colleges.

12. Duke University

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Duke University charges undergraduate Blue Devils $77,029 per year of schooling.

Niche ranks it as the best Christian college in America.

11. Oberlin College


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A student at Oberlin College in Ohio can expect a $77,124 bill each school year.

Niche ranks this school as No. 3 for liberal arts.

10. Dartmouth College

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Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire, costs students $77,152 per year.

It has a 6.2% acceptance rate.

9. University of Pennsylvania

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Another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, costs students $77,264 annually.

It has a 5.7% acceptance rate.

8. University of Southern California

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Out-of-state Trojans pay $77,459 for a year of school at USC.

It has a 13% acceptance rate.

7. Brown University

Providence, RI

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Another Ivy League school, Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, costs $77,490 annually.

It has a 5.4% acceptance rate and is known for English studies.

6. Scripps College


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The women of California's Scripps College pay up to $77,588 per year.

It boasts 65 majors.

5. Barnard College


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A student at Barnard in New York City will pay $78,044 for a year of school.

Niche ranks it as America's No. 1 women's school.

4. Northwestern University

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Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, charges $78,654 per year. 

It consistently ranks highly for journalism and communications studies.

3. Harvey Mudd College


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Harvey Mudd is California's most expensive college. The school in Claremont costs students $79,539 per year.

It has a 10% acceptance rate.

2. Columbia University

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Students at this Ivy League university in New York City pay $79,752 per year.

It has a tiny, 3.7% acceptance rate.

1. University of Chicago

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A student at the University of Chicago pays $81,531 per year. It is America's most expensive four-year university.

Niche ranks it as America's No. 3 college for math.

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