These Elite Colleges Went Virtual — But Raised Tuition Anyway

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SpVVK / Getty Images

    Last spring, college students across the nation had their worlds turned upside down when the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of in-person classes, crowded dorms and carefree, informal campus gatherings came to a screeching halt. As a result, most classes transitioned online.

    Over a year later, online learning is still being used to prevent the spread of the virus. However, while elite universities have changed the way they teach, many have not reduced their tuition — and some have even increased it. This, during a time when many families are struggling to stay afloat financially.

    See: What It Really Costs To Attend America’s Top 50 Colleges

    Fourteen elite schools froze tuition rates, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of Chicago and Columbia University in the city of New York, according to a Forbes study. And no fewer than 30 schools hiked their tuition rates even though student endowments increased.

    Student lawsuits demanding COVID-19 refunds are piling up because students are arguing that remote, online learning does not equate to the robust and enriching experience that campus life provides.

    Here’s a look at 10 elite colleges that changed the way they teach in wake of COVID-19 but raised tuition anyway.

    Last updated: April 8, 2021

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    Stanford University

    • Endowment per student: $1,496,715
    • Student tuition: $55,473

    Stanford University is a private research institution founded in 1885. It has an enrollment of 16,384. The school increased tuition costs by 4.95% for the 2020-21 school year. Classes are being largely taught online.

    Go Here Instead: The Best Colleges With Tuition Under $20K

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    Grinnell College

    • Endowment per student: $1,186,892
    • Student tuition: $56,188

    Grinnell College is a private liberal arts and sciences college founded in 1846. About 1,700 students attend the college. For the 2020-21 school year, Grinnell increased tuition costs by 4.30%. Classes are taking place fully online.

    See: Where These 51 CEOs Went To College



    • Endowment per student: $774,545
    • Student tuition: $58,120

    Wellesley is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college for women, with more than 2,391 students enrolled. Students attending Wellesley for the 2020-21 school year are paying 4.29% more than in 2019. Classes are being taught primarily online.

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    Rice University

    • Endowment per student: $841,965
    • Student tuition: $50,310

    Rice University, a premier research university, was founded in 1912. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,989. For the 2020-21 academic year, students saw a 4.10% increase in tuition costs. Classes are taking place both online and in person.

    Check Out: The Crazy Amount It Costs To Attend Your Alma Mater Today

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    • Endowment per student: $1,422,130
    • Student tuition: $49,653

    Harvard, established in 1636, is the oldest U.S. institution of higher education and a member of the Ivy League. It has an enrollment of over 30,000. Tuition costs increased 4.03% for the 2020-21 academic year. Classes are being taught fully online.

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    • Endowment per student: $1,898,204
    • Student tuition: $57,700

    Yale, a member of the Ivy League, was founded in 1701 and has an enrollment of 13,574 students. The 2020-21 academic year brought a 3.96% increase in costs. At Yale, classes are being taught primarily online.

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    • Endowment per student: $821,011
    • Student tuition: $57,795

    Dartmouth, founded in 1769, is an Ivy League school. It has a total enrollment of 6,608 students. Dartmouth implemented a 3.94% increase in costs for the 2020-21 academic year. Classes are being held primarily online.

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    California Institute of Technology

    • Endowment per student: $1,301,837
    • Student tuition: $54,570

    Founded in 1891, the California Institute of Technology — aka Caltech — is one of the nation’s top science and engineering institutes. It has a student enrollment of 2,237. For 2020-21, Caltech applied a 3.93% increase in costs. Students are being taught fully online.

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    Amherst College

    • Endowment per student: $1,223,642 
    • Student tuition: $59,890

    Amherst College, founded in 1821, is recognized as a premier liberal arts college. It has a total enrollment of 1,839 students. For 2020-21, Amherst increased tuition costs by 3.90%. Classes take place primarily online.

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    Brown University

    • Endowment per student: $364,762
    • Student tuition: $59,254

    Brown University, which has 6,670 undergraduates, is taking a hybrid approach to learning this year. Despite the change, students are still seeing a 3.75% increase in tuition for the 2020-21 year compared to costs in 2019.

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