Department Of Education Releases Second Year Rankings Of Most And Least Expensive Colleges

College costs

June 13, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education has released its list of most expensive and least costly colleges with the nation's private schools coming out on top.

The majority of the most expensive colleges were located in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Connecticut College, which has an annual tuition of nearly $44,000 a year, moved into the very top spot for not-for-profit private four-year schools.

Overall, the state of Pennsylvania had some of the most expensive public schools in terms of tuition and fees, despite efforts by the current governor to reign those in, The Chronicle reported. In fact, Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh took first and second place in terms of highest tuition and fees for the 2010-11 academic year among four-year public schools, coming in at $15,250 and $14,936, respectively, reported The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, those schools defended themselves by saying that the state ranks one of the lowest in terms of receiving higher education funding.

"A 19.6 percent cut in state funding last year on top of a decade of lean state support has left Penn State increasingly reliant on students and their families to fund more of the costs of their Penn State education," Penn State Spokesman Bill Mahon said to The Post-Gazette.

In fact, John Fedele, a spokesman for the University of Pittsburgh, said Pennsylvania ranked in the bottom five in terms of higher education support.

The other public four-year schools filling out the top five spots in terms of tuition and fees were the University of Vermont at $14,066; the University of New Hampshire main campus at $13,672; and St. Mary's College of Maryland, at $13,630, reported The Post-Gazette. The least costly four-year public school in the nation was Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas with an annual tuition of $430.

The state of Ohio did not fare so well either. It had four public schools among the top 14 public four-year schools with the highest net price (cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid). Miami University at Oxford took the second position with a net price of $22,303. However, Miami President David Hodge explained to the Cincinnati Enquirer that the overall cost is usually lower than that because most students take just 3.7 years to graduate.

"That's our value proposition to students," he said to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Get them graduated on time with a highly competitive degree."

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan specifically mentioned both Ohio and Pennsylvania in a conference call on Tuesday about the report.

"We are seeing some alarming trends," he said, as quoted by the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Deep budget cuts are unfortunately helping to drive up the cost of college.

Indeed, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that the average sticker price at public four-year colleges rose 15 percent over the prior year, according to the Department of Education. In some states, average sticker price jumped as high as 40 percent. Community colleges, however, have managed to keep rising costs in check. According to the department, the net price of community colleges has increased less than 1 percent.

"As the backbone of our higher education system, they continue to be one of the most affordable options for students," Duncan said in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Department of Education data allows users to easily search for results based on type of institution (nine categories, including two-year schools) that can be cross-referenced against highest tuition, highest net prices, lowest tuition and lowest net prices categories. This is the second year the Department of Education has released its report, which was requested by Congress to help educate students and to bring about transparency.

Compiled by Maggie O'Neill


"In Second Year of Rankings, Education Dept. Lists Cheapest and Costliest Colleges,", June 12, 2012, Kelly Field

"Penn State, University of Pittsburgh Hold Top Public Tuition Rankings,", June 13, 2012, Bill Schackner

"Surprise! Ohio Colleges Among Most Expensive!,", June 12, 2012, Cliff Peale

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