10 private schools with highest, lowest sticker prices

Paying a Heavy Price for a Higher Education
Paying a Heavy Price for a Higher Education

The bad news is that sticker prices at private colleges and universities continue to climb.

The good news is that almost no one pays those jaw-dropping amounts.

In fact, nearly 90 percent of freshmen at private universities earned some institutional grant or scholarship aid in 2014-2015, according a study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

But while factoring in financial aid will give families a better sense of what they'll actually pay for college, these sticker prices are too extreme to disregard.

On average, tuition and fees for private universities cost $32,599 in the 2015-2016 school year, according to data reported to U.S. News by 711 ranked private schools. That's a 3.9 percent increase from last year's average.

New York's Vassar College charges $51,300, the most of any school reporting this year's cost figures to U.S. News. Students paying full price at Sarah Lawrence, also in New York, will shell out $51,034 in tuition and fees this year, the second-highest of schools reporting.

Columbia University, which was the costliest among the 728 colleges and universities reporting data last year, declined to provide its cost figures to U.S. News in this year's annual survey.

The 10 priciest schools in 2015-2016 charge an average of $50,632 in tuition and fees to undergraduate students. And that's before room and board, textbooks and other expenses.

At the opposite extreme of college costs, the least pricey schools charge an average of $9,571 in 2015-2016.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Value Schools rankings.]

Some of these 10 cheapest schools even subsidize their low costs with full-tuition scholarships to eligible students.

Kentucky's Berea College, which charges the least in tuition and fees in 2015-2016, also awards each admitted student a scholarship to cover the full amount. At Alice Lloyd College, also in Kentucky, tuition is low for all undergraduates, but those who hail from its service area in Central Appalachia are guaranteed a full scholarship.

Brigham Young University—Provo carries the second-lowest price tag among private universities reporting cost data to U.S News. At BYU, which is led by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon undergraduates pay $5,150. Non-Mormons pay a still-reasonable $10,300, according to the school's website.

[Discover 10 tools that give you an estimate of what you'll pay for college.]

The following schools charge the highest and lowest tuition and fees in 2015-2016. Four schools among the least expensive private colleges were designated as Rank Not Published. Schools listed as RNP fell in the bottom one-fourth of their ranking category. U.S. News calculates numerical ranks for these schools, but does not publish them.

Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate numerical ranks for Unranked programs because they did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires.

Most Expensive Schools

Least Expensive Schools

Don't see your school on the list? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find data on tuition and fees, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2015 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The tuition and fees data above are correct as of Sept. 9, 2015.

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Originally published