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The Crazy Amount It Costs To Attend Your Alma Mater Today

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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 2019 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.

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: Dec. 26, 2019

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Villanova University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,280
  • Room and board: $14,444

Villanova University bills itself as the only Augustinian Catholic university in the country. For undergraduates, Villanova tuition, fees and room and board total $69,724 per year.

Did You Know? The Best Places To Retire in America Are All College Towns

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University of Wisconsin–Madison

  • In-state tuition and fees: $10,555
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $36,805
  • Room and board: $11,114

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 $47,919 per year for tuition and other costs. If you live in-state, you’ll pay just $21,669 for tuition, fees and room and board.

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University of Texas at Austin

  • In-state tuition and fees: $10,112
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $35,996
  • Room and board: $10,804

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 $20,916 annually if you live in Texas, but $46,800 if your home is elsewhere.

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Tuition and fees: $55,378
  • Room and board: $15,580

RPI is the oldest technological research university in the U.S., and it awards degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels in the science and technology disciplines. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tuition and other costs total $70,958 per year.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • In-state tuition and fees: $18,712
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $35,854
  • Room and board: $11,480

In-state costs including tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign total $30,192. If you’re out of state, be prepared to spend $47,334.

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University of Georgia

  • In-state tuition and fees: $11,830
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $30,404
  • Room and board: $10,038

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 $40,442. If you live in the Peach State, you’ll spend just $21,868 altogether.

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Pepperdine University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,110
  • Room and board: $15,320

Pepperdine is a Christian university located in beautiful Malibu, California. Undergraduate students can expect to pay a total of $70,430 for room, board, fees and tuition at Pepperdine University.

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Tulane University

  • Tuition and fees: $56,800
  • Room and board: $15,774

Tuition at Tulane University in New Orleans, including room, board and fees, totals $72,574. But all freshmen are considered for merit scholarships of $10,000 to $32,000 per year, so studying hard in high school can pay off.

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Northeastern University

  • Tuition and fees: $51,522
  • Room and board: $16,270

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 $67,792.

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Case Western Reserve University

  • Tuition and fees: $51,499
  • Room and board: $15,614

Case Western Reserve University is a research university located in Cleveland that has produced 16 Nobel Laureates. You’ll spend a total of $67,113 for Case Western Reserve University tuition and other costs.

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Boston University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,892
  • Room and board: $16,160

Boston University has over 34,000 students, and the undergraduates among them pay a total of $72,052 a year. This includes Boston University tuition, room and board and fees.

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University of California, San Diego

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,199
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $43,191
  • Room and board: $13,788

At the University of California in San Diego, tuition and other costs add up to $27,987 for California residents — a comparative bargain for a research university. If you live out of state, you’ll pay $56,979 — still more affordable than many top-tier universities.

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University of California, Davis

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,402
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $43,394
  • Room and board: $15,645

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 $30,047 for California residents and $59,039 for out-of-state students.

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College of William and Mary

  • In-state tuition and fees: $23,400
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $45,272
  • Room and board: $12,236

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 $35,636 for Virginia residents and $57,508 for everyone else.

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Boston College

  • Tuition and fees: $58,485
  • Room and board: $14,826

Boston is known for its institutions of higher education, and Boston College was the first, founded by the Jesuits in 1863. Originally a commuter school attended primarily by the children of Irish immigrants, BC is now an internationally respected research university. Boston College tuition and other costs now total $73,311 per year.

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University of Florida

  • In-state tuition and fees: $6,381
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $28,658
  • Room and board: $10,220

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 $16,601 for Floridians and $38,878 for everyone else.

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Georgia Institute of Technology

  • In-state tuition and fees: $12,424
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $33,020
  • Room and board: $11,884

Georgia Tech is a public research university located in Atlanta. It’s the third-cheapest school for out-of-state students among the top 50. Georgia Tech tuition and other costs add up to $24,308 for Georgia residents and $44,904 for those who come from out of state.

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Brandeis University

  • Tuition and fees: $56,970
  • 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 $72,860 a year for tuition and other costs.

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University of Rochester

  • Tuition and fees: $56,026
  • Room and board: $16,470

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 $72,496 per year.

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University of California, Irvine

  • In-state tuition and fees: $15,450
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $44,442
  • Room and board: $18,805

The University of California, Irvine tuition and other costs add up to the second-most expensive cost for in-state students at a public college on the list. Californians will pay $34,255 to go here, while those from other states will have to come up with $63,247 per year. This school has the highest room and board of any campus in the top 50.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • In-state tuition and fees: $8,756
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $34,939
  • 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 $20,282. If you’re coming from out of state, you’ll pay $46,465.

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University of California, Santa Barbara

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,424
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $43,416
  • Room and board: $15,273

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 $29,697 to attend. If not, expect your UCSB tuition and other costs to total $58,689.

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New York University

  • Tuition and fees: $53,310
  • Room and board: $18,684

New York University tuition and other costs total $71,994, due in part to the second-highest 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

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Wake Forest University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,440
  • Room and board: $15,018

Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is home to the Demon Deacon mascot. The 5,100 undergraduates will pay $70,458 this year for Wake Forest University tuition and other costs.

University of Michigan

  • In-state tuition and fees: $15,262
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $49,350
  • Room and board: $11,534

Tuition and other costs to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor total $26,796 for in-state students and $60,884 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.

Tufts University

  • Tuition and fees: $58,578
  • Room and board: $15,086

Tufts University, located just outside Boston, is the fifth-most expensive school on this list. Considering it’s ranked as No. 25, it’s probably not the best bargain you’ll find. Tufts University tuition and other costs total $73,664.

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University of Virginia

  • In-state tuition and fees: $16,520
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $48,244
  • Room and board: $11,590

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 $28,110 if you live in the state, or $59,834 if you don’t.

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Carnegie Mellon University

  • Tuition and fees: $57,119
  • Room and board: $14,972

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 $72,091.

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University of Southern California

  • Tuition and fees: $56,225
  • Room and board: $15,395

The University of Southern California has 20,000 undergraduate students, who will each pay a total of $71,620 to attend. To offset the cost of tuition at USC, the school awarded $570 million in financial aid in the 2017-2018 school year.

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University of California, Berkeley

  • In-state tuition and fees: $14,184
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $43,232
  • Room and board: $16,398

UC Berkeley tuition and fees are the third-most expensive out of all schools that offer in-state tuition. But you get what you pay for: UCB is the second-highest ranked public school on the list. Total costs are $30,582 for Californians and $59,630 for everyone else.

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Georgetown University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,971
  • Room and board: $15,795

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 $71,766.

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Emory University

  • Tuition and fees: $53,804
  • Room and board: $14,972

Emory University in Atlanta has about 8,000 undergraduates, each of whom pays a total of $68,776 in tuition, room and board and other costs. It has nearly the same number of graduate students in business, law, medicine and other disciplines.

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Washington University in St. Louis

  • Tuition and fees: $53,399
  • Room and board: $16,205

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 $69,604 per year.

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University of California, Los Angeles

  • In-state tuition and fees: $13,225
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $42,217
  • Room and board: $15,900

The University of California, Los Angeles is the highest-ranking public school in the top 50. UCLA out-of-state tuition and other costs total $58,117. If you live in California, expect to pay $29,125.

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University of Notre Dame

  • Tuition and fees: $55,553
  • Room and board: $15,640

The University of Notre Dame offers 75 undergraduate majors to its 8,530 students at its campus in South Bend, Indiana. Tuition at Notre Dame, plus other costs, total $71,193.

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Rice University

  • Tuition and fees: $49,112
  • Room and board: $14,140

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 $63,252.

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Cornell University

  • In-state tuition and fees: $38,552
  • Out-of-state tuition and fees: $57,222
  • Room and board: $15,246

Cornell University is the only private school on the list that offers in-state students a break on tuition. Cornell tuition and other fees total $72,468 if you live out of state and $53,798 if you live in-state. Of course, you still need to be able to get into the Ivy League school, but if you happen to live in New York, you could save $74,680 over four years.

Vanderbilt University

  • Tuition and fees: $50,716
  • Room and board: $16,234

Industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt founded Vanderbilt University in 1873 with a $1 million gift. Today, Vanderbilt tuition and other costs total $66,950 at this private research university in Nashville, Tennessee.

Brown University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,556
  • Room and board: $14,670

Brown University is an Ivy League school that was founded in 1764 in Providence, Rhode Island. Each of its 7,000 undergraduate students pays a total of $70,226 for Brown University tuition, fees and room and board.

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Dartmouth College

  • Tuition and fees: $55,035
  • Room and board: $15,756

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, provides 4,400 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students with an Ivy League liberal arts education. The total cost of Dartmouth tuition, room and board and other fees is $70,791.

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California Institute of Technology

  • Tuition and fees: $54,600
  • Room and board: $16,644

Caltech has only 948 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 $71,244.

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Northwestern University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,567
  • Room and board: $16,626

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 $71,193.

Johns Hopkins University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,240
  • Room and board: $15,836

Cost to attend Johns Hopkins University is pricey at $70,076 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.

University of Pennsylvania

  • Tuition and fees: $57,770
  • Room and board: $16,190

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 $73,960, making it the fourth-most expensive school on the list.

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Duke University

  • Tuition and fees: $58,198
  • Room and board: $17,000

Duke tuition and other costs will set you back $75,198, making it the third-most expensive school on this list. On the bright side, 50% of the students receive some type of financial aid, with an average need-based grant of $50,885.

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Stanford University

  • Tuition and fees: $54,762
  • Room and board: $16,433

Stanford University, located in the midst of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, provides about 7,100 undergraduate students with a quality education, albeit at a steep price. Stanford tuition, fees and room and board add up to $71,195.

Yale University

  • Tuition and fees: $55,500
  • Room and board: $16,600

Yale tuition and other costs total $72,100, but nearly 50% of students receive scholarships or grants from the university. The average need-based scholarship or grant aid awarded by the school in the 2016-2017 school year was $47,658.

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

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University of Chicago

  • Tuition and fees: $59,298
  • Room and board: $17,004

Founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, the University of Chicago is the second-most expensive school on the list, pricier than all of the Ivies except Columbia. University of Chicago tuition, fees and room and board totals $76,302.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Tuition and fees: $51,832
  • Room and board: $15,510

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 $67,342.

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Columbia University

  • Tuition and fees: $63,715
  • Room and board: $14,436

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 $78,151.

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Harvard University

  • Tuition and fees: $51,925
  • Room and board: $17,682

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. It is the least costly of any of the Ivy League schools, and the only one still under $70,000 a year, with Harvard tuition and other costs coming in at $69,607.

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Princeton University

  • Tuition and fees: $53,035
  • Room and board: $17,150

Princeton ranks No. 1 on the list of best colleges and while it’s not cheap, it is a relative bargain. Princeton University tuition and other costs come in a total of $70,185.

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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.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the cost of the nation’s top 50 colleges according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings. GOBankingRates took the top 50 colleges and looked at 1) both out-of-state and in-state (for public institutions) tuition as well as 2) room and board costs for all 50 colleges. The figures were combined to give a “true” cost of the nation’s top 50 colleges in terms of out-of-state tuition plus room and board as well as in-state tuition plus room and board where applicable.

Data is accurate as of September 25, 2019, and is subject to change.