GOBankingRates

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

BrianPIrwin / Getty Images

It’s no secret that the cost of college is rising, and the more competitive the school, the more it can charge. GOBankingRates looked at the cost to attend the top 50 colleges in the United States, based on the 2020 ranking in U.S. News & World Report. The study noted the cost of college tuition, as well as fees and room and board, for undergraduate students. Both in-state and out-of-state tuition costs are included where they are offered.

Check It Out: Where These Top CEOS Went To College
Look: These 15 Billionaires Got Richer During the Pandemic

The most expensive colleges might not be the ones you suspect, and there are creative ways to pay for college. Here’s how much an education costs at the top 50 colleges in the country.

Last updated: July 21, 2021

Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock.com

Saving On the Cost of College

Whether you choose an Ivy League school or your own state university, the answer to the question, “How much does college cost?” is simple: College is expensive. Here are some creative ways to pay for college:

  • Go to a public university. Every public college on this list is less expensive than every private school, even for out-of-state students.
  • Consider spending the first two years at a community college. Then transfer to a four-year institution to get your bachelor’s degree. Your diploma will still have the four-year school’s name on it, but it will have cost a lot less.
  • Apply for outside scholarships. There are many scholarships available that may be earmarked for students who live in a certain area or who are pursuing a certain type of degree. Search for scholarships you may be eligible for and apply for all of them.
  • Research a reciprocity program. If your state university doesn’t offer the program you want to major in, you may be able to get in-state tuition at a school in a nearby state. Ask if your state university has reciprocity with the school you’re interested in.
  • Work at the school your child wants to attend. This one requires some advance planning, but some colleges offer free tuition to the children of their employees, assuming they meet the admission criteria. Getting a job at an elite school can save you a lot of money when it’s time for your children to enroll.

See: These Elite Colleges Went Virtual — But Raised Tuition Anyway

Make Your Money Work for You
Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com

University of Miami

  • Tuition and fees: $52,080
  • Room and board: $15,470

The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. Undergraduate students can expect to pay a total of $67,550 for room, board, fees and tuition at this institution of higher learning.

Discover: What It Would Really Mean To Cancel Student Loan Debt

Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Pepperdine University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,750
  • Room and board: $16,160

Pepperdine is a Christian university located in beautiful Malibu, California. Undergraduate students can expect to pay a total of $73,910 for room, board, fees and tuition.

Take a Look: The Economy and Your Money: All You Need To Know

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Northeastern University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,360
  • Room and board: $17,480

Northeastern University focuses on experiential learning, with cooperative education, research and service opportunities that integrate the real world into the classroom. The cost of room, board, fees and tuition at Northeastern totals $71,840.

Follow Along: 31 Days of Living Richer

 

©Shutterstock.com

Lehigh University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,790
  • Room and board: $14,740

Lehigh University is a private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The cost of room, board, fees and tuition at Northeastern totals $69,530.

Make Your Money Work for You
leightrail / Getty Images

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • In-state tuition and fees: $16,862
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $34,312
  • Room and board: $12,252

In-state costs including tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign total $29,114. If you’re out of state, be prepared to spend $46,564.

Wolterk / Getty Images

University of Georgia

  • In-state tuition and fees: $12,080
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $31,120
  • Room and board: $10,328

The University of Georgia is the second-cheapest school of the top 50 for out-of-state students. Including room and board, fees and tuition at UGA will run you $41,448. If you live in the Peach State, you’ll spend just $22,408 altogether.

Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock.com

Case Western Reserve University

  • Tuition and fees: $52,448
  • Room and board: $16,080

Case Western Reserve University is a research university located in Cleveland that has produced 16 Nobel Laureates. You’ll spend a total of $68,528 for Case Western Reserve University tuition and other costs.

WhiteJaguar / Shutterstock.com

Brandeis University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,340
  • Room and board: $15,890

Brandeis University is a private research university with a focus on liberal arts located in Waltham, Massachusetts, just west of Boston. Undergraduate students will pay a total of $71,230 a year for tuition and other costs.

Make Your Money Work for You
sshepard / Getty Images

Boston University

  • Tuition and fees: $56,854
  • Room and board: $16,640

Boston is known for its institutions of higher education, and Boston University is an exclusive private research university with a historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Tuition and other costs now total $73,494 per year.

Read: 9 Legal Tax Shelters To Protect Your Money

Wolterk / Getty Images

University of Wisconsin–Madison

  • In-state tuition and fees: $10,746
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $38,634
  • Room and board: $12,200

The University of Wisconsin at Madison has produced the most Fortune 500 CEOs of any college on the list at 14, according to a study from executive recruitment firm Kittleman & Associates. If you want to be a Badger and you don’t live in Wisconsin, you’ll have to shell out $50,834 per year for tuition and other costs. If you live in-state, you’ll pay just $22,946 for tuition, fees and room and board.

dszc / Getty Images

University of Texas at Austin

  • In-state tuition and fees: $10,582
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $37,670
  • Room and board: $12,286

In-state tuition at the University of Texas at Austin is the third-cheapest of any university on the list. You’ll pay a total of $22,868 annually if you live in Texas, but $49,956 if your home is elsewhere.

Make Your Money Work for You
Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com

Tulane University

  • Tuition and fees: $58,850
  • Room and board: $16,248

Tuition at Tulane University in New Orleans, including room, board and fees, totals $75,098. But all freshmen are considered for merit scholarships that can be as high as $32,000 per year, so studying hard in high school can pay off.

William Silver / Shutterstock.com

College of William and Mary

  • In-state tuition and fees: $17,434
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $40,089
  • Room and board: $13,356

The College of William and Mary in Virginia is the most expensive public college on the list for in-state students. William and Mary tuition and other costs total $30,790 for Virginia residents and $53,445 for everyone else.

AlessandraRC / Shutterstock.com

University of California, Davis

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,597
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $44,351
  • Room and board: $14,356

Home of the Aggies, UC Davis is situated in Northern California, 20 minutes from Sacramento on a 5,300-acre campus. Tuition at the University of California, Davis and other costs total $28,593 for California residents and $58,707 for out-of-state students.

Elijah Lovkoff / Shutterstock.com

Boston College

  • Tuition and fees: $59,050
  • Room and board: $15,220

Boston College, the oldest college in all of Boston, has a total cost of $74,720 a year -- including tuition and room and board.

Make Your Money Work for You
InnaPoka / Shutterstock.com

University of California, San Diego

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,769
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $44,433
  • Room and board: $15,366

At the University of California in San Diego, tuition and other costs add up to $30,135 for California residents — a comparative bargain for a research university. If you live out of state, you’ll pay $59,799 — still more affordable than many top-tier universities.

Mikejuinwind123 / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3

University of California, Irvine

  • In-state tuition and fees: $11,442
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $41,196
  • Room and board: $16,561

The University of California, Irvine, is a public research university in Irvine, California. Californians will pay $28,003 to go here, while those from other states will have to come up with $57,757 per year.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • In-state tuition and fees: $10,258
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $31,370
  • Room and board: $12,246

Georgia Tech is a public research university located in Atlanta. Georgia Tech tuition and other costs add up to $22,504 for Georgia residents and $43,616 for those who come from out of state.

jimfeng / Getty Images

University of Rochester

  • Tuition and fees: $57,188
  • Room and board: $17,208

The University of Rochester in upstate New York is a top-tier research university that offers 200 academic majors to 10,000 students. Total costs including tuition at the University of Rochester add up to $74,396 per year.

Make Your Money Work for You
©Shutterstock.com

Tufts University

  • Tuition and fees: $59,560
  • Room and board: $15,630

Tufts University is a private research university on the border of Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. Tufts University tuition and other costs total $75,190.

littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

New York University

  • Tuition and fees: $52,204
  • Room and board: $19,244

New York University tuition and other costs total $71,448, due in part to high room and board costs of any school on this list. NYU enrolls about 30,000 undergraduate students after accepting 20% of applicants.

Related: The Best Colleges With Tuition Under $20K

Claudine Van Massenhove / Shutterstock.com

University of California, Santa Barbara

  • In-state tuition and fees: $12,570
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $42,324
  • Room and board: $15,039

The University of California, Santa Barbara, is a member of the Association of American Universities, one of only 62 research-intensive institutions in the U.S. and Canada to join. If you’re a California resident, you’ll pay $27,609 to attend. If not, expect your UCSB tuition and other costs to total $57,363.

Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com

University of Florida

  • In-state tuition and fees: $6,380
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $29,108
  • Room and board: $10,590

The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, has the lowest total cost for both in-state students and out-of-state students. Total costs, including living expenses, fees and tuition at the University of Florida total $16,970 for Floridians and $39,698 for everyone else.

Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com

Wake Forest University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,760
  • Room and board: $15,520

Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is home to the Demon Deacon mascot. The 5,287 undergraduates will pay $73,280 this year for Wake Forest University tuition and other costs.

Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • In-state tuition and fees: $7,019
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $34,198
  • Room and board: $11,526

UNC Chapel Hill's tuition is the second-least expensive for in-state students. The total cost for in-state students is just $18,545. If you’re coming from out of state, you’ll pay $45,724.

Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,560
  • Room and board: $15,550

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, with colleges in engineering, fine arts, humanities, public policy, science, computer science and business. Carnegie Mellon tuition and other costs total $73,110.

BrianPIrwin / Getty Images

University of Virginia

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,188
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $48,036
  • Room and board: $12,350

Founded by Thomas Jefferson and located in Charlottesville, UVA enrolls about 16,000 undergraduate students. University of Virginia tuition and other costs will set you back $26,538 if you live in the state, or $60,386 if you don’t.

benedek / Getty Images

University of Southern California

  • Tuition and fees: $59,260
  • Room and board: $15,437

The University of Southern California has 20,000 undergraduate students, who will each pay a total of $74,697 to attend. To offset the cost of tuition at USC, the school awarded $570 million in financial aid in the 2017-2018 school year.

©Shutterstock.com

University of Michigan

  • In-state tuition and fees: $15,948
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $52,266
  • Room and board: $12,034

Tuition and other costs to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor total $27,982 for in-state students and $64,300 for out-of-state students, but two out of three students receive financial aid of some kind. Michigan is a big sports school, boasting 29 NCAA Division 1 teams and 395 all-time Big 10 athletic championships.

aimintang / Getty Images

Georgetown University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,384
  • Room and board: $13,554

Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university and was established in 1789. The cost of college tuition at Georgetown, added to room and board and other fees, totals $70,938.

lucentius / Getty Images/iStockphoto

University of California, Berkeley

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,254
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $44,008
  • Room and board: $17,220

UC Berkeley is a public university in Berkeley, California, overlooking San Francisco Bay. Total costs are $31,474 for Californians and $61,228 for everyone else.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Emory University

  • Tuition and fees: $53,070
  • Room and board: $15,242

Emory University in Atlanta has just over 8,000 undergraduates, each of whom pays a total of $68,312 in tuition, room and board and other costs. It has nearly the same number of graduate students in business, law, medicine and other disciplines.

HaizhanZheng / Getty Images

University of California, Los Angeles

  • In-state tuition and fees: $13,239
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $42,993
  • Room and board: $17,599

UCLA's out-of-state tuition and other costs total $60,592. If you live in California, expect to pay $30,838.

Chuck W Walker / Shutterstock.com

University of Notre Dame

  • Tuition and fees: $57,699
  • Room and board: $15,984

The University of Notre Dame offers 75 undergraduate majors to its 8,731 students at its campus in South Bend, Indiana. Tuition at Notre Dame, plus other costs, total $73,683.

kickstand / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cornell University

  • In-state tuition and fees: $58,586
  • Room and board: $15,706

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Undergraduates will pay $74,292 for room and board.

achinthamb / Shutterstock.com

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Tuition and fees: $56,300
  • Room and board: $17,402

If you’re looking beyond academics for a rewarding college experience, Washington University in St. Louis is ranked No. 2 for its dorms and No. 3 for best campus food by The Princeton Review. Total costs including tuition at Washington University are $73,702 per year.

Faina Gurevich / Getty Images

Rice University

  • Tuition and fees: $50,310
  • Room and board: $14,500

Rice University is a private research institution in Houston with about 4,000 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate students. Rice University tuition, room and board and other fees total $64,810.

©Shutterstock.com

Vanderbilt University

  • Tuition and fees: $52,780
  • Room and board: $17,602

Industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt founded Vanderbilt University in 1873 with a $1 million gift. Today, tuition and other costs total $70,381 at this private research university in Nashville, Tennessee.

©Shutterstock.com

Brown University

  • Tuition and fees: $59,254
  • Room and board: $15,908

Brown University is an Ivy League school that was founded in 1764 in Providence, Rhode Island. Each of its 7,160 undergraduate students pays a total of $75,162 for Brown University tuition, fees and room and board.

Dan Lewis / Shutterstock.com

Dartmouth College

  • Tuition and fees: $57,796
  • Room and board: $17,022

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, provides 4,459 undergraduate and 2,154 graduate students with an Ivy League liberal arts education. The total cost of Dartmouth tuition, room and board and other fees is $74,818.

aimintang / Getty Images

Duke University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,934
  • Room and board: $17,022

Duke tuition and other costs will set you back $75,418, making it the third-most expensive school on this list. On the bright side, 50% of the students receive some type of financial aid.

Sharon Wildie / Shutterstock.com

Northwestern University

  • Tuition and fees: $56,286
  • Room and board: $17,616

Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern was the first university in the northwest territories when it opened in 1855. Northwestern University tuition and other costs add up to $73,902.

©Shutterstock.com

Johns Hopkins University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,160
  • Room and board: $16,310

Cost to attend Johns Hopkins University is pricey at $70,470 all in, but the college recently revamped its financial aid program. It will now meet 100% of each student’s demonstrated need in the form of grants and will not include loans in financial aid packages. This means that as long as the family meets their expected family contribution, the student will have no loans after graduation.

achinthamb / Shutterstock.com

California Institute of Technology

  • Tuition and fees: $54,570
  • Room and board: $17,337

Caltech has only 938 undergraduate students, but has earned an impressive 39 Nobel prizes. More than 50% of undergraduates receive at least some need-based financial aid, taking the sting out of the hefty tuition and other costs that total $71,907.

©Shutterstock.com

University of Pennsylvania

  • Tuition and fees: $53,166
  • Room and board: $15,114

This Ivy League school is located in Philadelphia and was founded by George Whitefield in 1740. University of Pennsylvania tuition and other costs add up to $68,280.

HaizhanZheng / iStock.com

University of Chicago

  • Tuition and fees: $57,642
  • Room and board: $17,004

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller. Tuition, fees and room and board totals $74,646.

Diego Grandi / Shutterstock.com

Stanford University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,473
  • Room and board: $12,361

Stanford University, located in the midst of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, provides 6,996 undergraduate students with a quality education, albeit at a steep price. Stanford tuition, fees and room and board add up to $67,834.

©Shutterstock.com

Yale University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,700
  • Room and board: $17,200

Yale tuition and other costs total $74,900, but nearly 50% of students receive scholarships or grants from the university.

Find Out: 20 Jobs That Pay $60,000 Right Out of College

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Tuition and fees: $53,450
  • Room and board: $16,390

The highest-ranking non-Ivy League school is selective — for the class of 2022, only 1,464 students were admitted from an applicant pool of 21,706. For students fortunate enough to be admitted, MIT tuition and other costs total $69,840.

gregobagel / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Columbia University

  • Tuition and fees: $64,464
  • Room and board: $25,160

Columbia University is the most expensive college on the list, probably due in part to its location in pricey New York City. Room and board, fees and tuition at Columbia University add up to $89,624.

Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock.com

Harvard University

  • Tuition and fees: $49,653
  • Room and board: $18,389

It might surprise you that Harvard is second, not first, on the list of best colleges, and you might be even more surprised that it is in the middle of the pack when it comes to total cost. Harvard's tuition and other costs come in at $68,042.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Princeton University

  • Tuition and fees: $53,980
  • Room and board: $17,820

Princeton ranks No. 1 on the list of best colleges and while it’s not cheap, it is an education worth every penny. Princeton University tuition and other costs come in a total of $71,710.

More From GoBankingRates

Jordan Rosenfeld contributed to the reporting for this article. 

In order to discover what it really costs to attend America’s top 50 colleges, GOBankingRates first used U.S.News & World Report’s “2021 Best National University Rankings” to identify the top 50 colleges/universities. With these colleges isolated, GOBankingRates then used each institution's self-published data to find: (1) in-state tuition where applicable; (2) out-of-state yearly tuition; and (3) room + board yearly cost. All data was collected on and up to date as of Nov. 30, 2020.