What It Costs to Attend the Top 10 Best Colleges in America

These schools, which top the U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges 2013 rankings, are also some of the most expensive schools in the country. Which one is the best bargain?

By Kevin Walker
Posted 2012

Tuition Cost of Top 10 Best Colleges
Tuition Cost of Top 10 Best Colleges

It’s no secret that a college education is expensive these days. Even at state schools, the cost of tuition and fees can run to the $20,000 per year range for out-of-state students.

For those who want to attend the nation’s elite schools, the cost is substantially higher.

Using information from the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2013 rankings, the following is a look at the cost of attending the Top 10 schools in the rankings list. These national universities are the crème de la crème of the education world, but the price tag reflects their lofty status.

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The Best Colleges in America for 2013

Before getting into the costs for each school, here’s a quick look at the Top 10 list and how they ranked.

1. Harvard University

1. Princeton University

3. Yale University

4. Columbia University

4. University of Chicago

6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

6 Stanford University

8 Duke University

9 University of Pennsylvania

10 California Institute of Technology

These schools – the same schools who made up the Top 10 in 2012 – earned these elite spots through a combination of indicators including freshman retention, graduation rates, strength of faculty, range of academic offerings, activities, sports and availability of financial aid.

Even the most casual college researcher likely knows the names of most of the schools on this list. But how do they rank in terms of cost?

The Cost of Attending the Nation’s Best Colleges

We’ll start with the most expensive and work our way down to the bargain of the bunch.

Columbia University; $47,246 in tuition and fees. Located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, Columbia is the most expensive among the nation’s top schools, which is perhaps not so surprising given its location.

University of Chicago; $44,574 in tuition and fees. Chicago, like New York City, offers some of the best the country has to offer in terms of food, recreation, the arts and, as it turns out, high tuition. Still, it’s location in the heart of one of America’s best cities is hard to compete against.

University of Pennsylvania; $43,738 in tuition and fees. Home to one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, the Wharton School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania also is among the most expensive schools in the Top 10.

Duke University: $43,623 in tuition and fees. The only university in the South to crack the Top 10, Duke University offers a world-class education in a beautiful part of the country.

Yale University; $42,300 in tuition and fees. One of the oldest colleges in the country (established in 1701), the New Haven, Conn.-based school is also one of the most expensive. Among Yale's many attributes is the faculty’s commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; $42,050 in tuition and fees. MIT is a world-renowned research institution perhaps best known for specializing in math, science and engineering, although it also offers a top-flight education in the arts and humanities. The school, located along with Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., also is among the schools that will cost more than $40,000 a year to attend.

Stanford University; $41,787 in tuition and fees. One of two universities on the West Coast to crack the Top 10, Stanford also comes in with an annual tuition and fee total more than $40,000. One of the most prestigious schools in the country, Stanford has a faculty with 17 Nobel Prize winners and 4 Pulitzer Prize winners.

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Harvard University; $40,866 in tuition and fees. It’s difficult to call a school that costs more than $40,000 a year a bargain, but in this context that is actually the case. While ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best college in the country, the cost to attend is less than 7 other schools in the Top 10.

California Institute of Technology; $39.588 in tuition and fees. The California Institute of Technology is a leading institution in the area of science and technology research, specializing in exploring the limits of fundamental and applied sciences and engineering. It also ranks in cost about where it ranks in the Best Colleges 2013 rankings, and is one of only two schools that costs less than $40,000 a year.

Princeton University; $38,650 in tuition and fees. Here is the deal of the Top 10 – Princeton ties with Harvard as the No. 1 school in the Best Colleges 2013 rankings, but is last among the Top 10 in terms of annual cost. Based in Princeton, N.J., the university is known for combining a top notch research institution with an outstanding liberal arts college.

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