This story comes to us courtesy of U.S. News & World Report, where it was originally published.
Private colleges and universities are known for small class sizes and a close-knit, small-town feel. They are also known for their price tags.
At the high end, a private school can run close to $50,000 per year, before grants and scholarships are factored in. Columbia University in New York charged $49,138 in tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year, more than any other private school in the country. Vassar College in New York and Trinity College in Connecticut were not far behind with sticker prices of $47,890 and $47,510, respectively.
[Video: U.S. News 2014 Best Colleges rankings.]
Prices at the three East Coast schools are well above average for private institutions, though. Tuition and fees at private schools for the 2013-2014 school year averaged nearly $30,500. That figure is a full $22,000 more than average in-state tuition and fees at a public institution, according to data reported by 1,110 ranked public and private universities in an annual U.S. News survey.
College students pining for a private education are not doomed to four years of double-digit tuition, though. To find a private college at a bargain price, head south.
Eight of the 10 least expensive private colleges and universities are located south of the Mason-Dixon Line, including Berea College in Kentucky, which boasts a sticker price of $1,070 for the 2013-2014 school year. All students at Berea work on campus in exchange for free tuition, and some receive financial aid to cover the cost of fees.
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While the South is home to many of the lowest-priced private colleges, the Northeast is a haven for pricey elite institutions. New England and the Mid-Atlantic are home to eight of the 10 most expensive private schools, including Vassar, Trinity and Columbia.
Those 10 schools charge an average of roughly $47,300 in tuition and fees for 2013-2014, a far cry from the $8,800 average at the 10 least expensive colleges. Neither figure includes extra costs such as room and board, books or personal expenses. Nor do they factor in financial aid packages, which can bring the price of even the most expensive schools down to a manageable level.
All but two of the most expensive schools ranked in the top 50 of the 2014 Best Colleges rankings. George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and Tulane University in Louisiana both came in at No. 52 on the National Universities list.
Only two of the 10 least expensive private schools earned a top 50 rank in their category – Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky and William Carey University in Mississippi – and six are designated as Rank Not Published. Schools listed as RNP fell in the bottom one-fourth of their ranking category. U.S. News calculates a numerical rank for these schools, but does not publish them.
Below are the 10 most and least expensive private colleges and universities for the 2013-2014 school year. Unranked colleges, which did not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a ranking, were not considered for this report.
- Columbia University (NY) $49,138 (4, National Universities)
- Vassar College (NY) $47,890 (13, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Trinity College (CT) $47,510 (36, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- George Washington University (DC) $47,343 (52, National Universities)
- Carnegie Mellon University (PA) $46,962 (23, National Universities)
- Wesleyan University (CT) $46,944 (17, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Tulane University (LA) $46,930 (52, National Universities)
- Bucknell University (PA) $46,902 (32, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Oberlin College (OH) $46,870 (25, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Union College (NY) 46,785 41, National Liberal Arts Colleges
- Berea College (KY) $1,070 (76, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Brigham Young University—Provo (UT) $4,850 (62, National Universities)
- Rust College (MS) $8,900 (RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Lane College (TN) $9,180 (RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Life University (GA) $9,747 (RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Tougaloo College (MS) $10,210 (RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
- Park University (MO) $10,600 (RNP, Regional Universities, Midwest)
- Alice Lloyd College (KY) $10,620 (40, Regional Colleges, South)
- William Carey University (MS) $10,800 (36, Regional Universities, South)
- Allen University (SC)11,940 (RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges)
RNP = Rank Not Provided