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The 20 most expensive dorms

By Daniel de Vise

Parents complain about rising tuition, but that's only the largest component of a significantly larger "comprehensive" fee to attend a residential college.

Here, courtesy of Campus Grotto, is a list of the 20 colleges that charge the most for room and board in the 2010-11 academic year. The listed prices assume a standard double room.

Here are the Esson sisters on move-in day at American University, whose room and board fees rank among the 20 most expensive in the nation.

Surveying the list, we see that the burden of financing a University of California education is shifting from the state to the student. UC Berkeley this year became the first public university to charge $50,000 in tuition, fees and living expenses, according to an analysis in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I was going to write a separate item on that report, but I may as well cover it here. The number of colleges charging more than $50,000 has risen from 58 last year to 100 this year, the Chronicle found.

Here is the Campus Grotto list of schools with the highest living expenses. You'll notice several UC institutions, unusual in any list of "most expensive" colleges. American University is also here.

1. Eugene Lang College, $17,110
2. University of California, Berkeley, $15,308
3. Suffolk University, $14,624
4. Fordham University - Lincoln Center, $14,614
5. Fordham University - Rose Hill, $14,491
6. University of California, Santa Cruz, $14,172
7. St. John's University (Queens), $14,000
8. Manhattanville College, $13,920
9. Sarah Lawrence College, $13,820
10. Pace University, $13,800
11. UCLA, $13,734
12. Cooper Union, $13,700
13. Chapman University, $13,510
14. New York University, $13,507
15. Olin College, $13,500
16. American University, $13,430
17. Marymount Manhattan College, $13,416
18. Harvey Mudd College, $13,198
19. Drexel University, $13,125
20. University of California, Santa Barbara, $13,109

And here is the Chronicle list, showing the most expensive colleges in total list price. Remember that many students don't pay list price, particularly if they are of modest means or if the college is a bit less selective and discounts heavily.

This is largely a list of prestigious private colleges that charge top dollar because a) they can and b) they are trying to support a comparatively low ratio of students to well-compensated faculty. I extended the list to 21 to include George Washington University; Georgetown and Johns Hopkins are also here.

1. Sarah Lawrence College, $57,384
2. Landmark College, $56,500
3. Columbia U. School of General Studies, $54,782
4. Wesleyan U., $53,976
5. Columbia U., $53,874
6. Johns Hopkins U., $53,690
7. Georgetown U., $53,591
8. New York U., $53,589
9. Harvey Mudd College, $53,588
10. Barnard College, $53,496
11. Bard College, $53,480
12. Trinity College (Conn.), $53,330
13. Washington U. in St. Louis, $53,315
14. Bates College, $53,300
15. U. of Chicago, $53,244
16. Claremont McKenna College, $53,230
17. Connecticut College, $53,110
18. Fordham U., $53,093
19. Vassar College, $53,090
20. Pitzer College, $53,080
21. George Washington U., $53,025

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By Daniel de Vise  | November 2, 2010; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  Finance, Rankings  | Tags:  AU, American University, GWU, Georgetown, Hopkins, JHU, most expensive colleges, most expensive dorms, most expensive tuition, most expensive universities  
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I think that it is amazing that college can still be so expensive when every kid coming out of high school is expected to go or never find a job. The kids of today will be in debt for the rest of their lives trying to pay the bill for their college education. It is sad to know that this is the future I myself, as a college student, can look forward too. It makes me want to cry.

Posted by: AKellyNKU | November 2, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Interesting lists, I didn't see any of the usual Ivy League colleges on either list.

Posted by: HowardCtyMom | November 3, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

The second list is deceptive because it fails to account for financial aid given to students, much more prevalent at private than public institutions. At these schools, in 2007-08 (the most recent year with available data), the average student received a GRANT (not a loan) from the institution totaling 46% of the price. Assuming that that holds true today, the average price of these institutions is $29,257, compared to the in-state price at St. Mary's College ($23,865) or William & Mary ($20,752). High, yes, but it's not the huge surcharge implied.

Posted by: drrico | November 3, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Cooper Union does not charge for tuition. $13k is not too bad to attend a high quality college in NYC.

Posted by: jayef | November 8, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

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