College CampusPutting their kids through college is something most parents expect will cost them a bundle -- and it does. Just take a look at the Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency website, which launched Thursday. It gives the lowdown on tuition and fees, the net cost of college, and trends on tuition rates for pubic and private colleges and universities across the nation.

But amid the sticker-shock-inducing figures coming from such institutions as Bates College, which is listed as charging $51,300 annually for tuition and fees, parents and college-bound students may be equally shocked to find options at the other end of the spectrum like Webb Institute, which offers all of its students a tuition-free ride. The deal with Webb, however, is it only offers one major: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

Both of these colleges are not-for-profit, private four-year institutions and rank as the most and least expensive, respectively, in their categories. According to The New York Times, a Bates official took umbrage at the figures, noting its reported costs also included room and board.

Parents taking their first looks at the college will rapidly discover that not-for-profit colleges tend to cost substantially more than private, for-profit institutions, and both of those are far more costly than public institutions. The national average for tuition and fees at not-for-profit institutions costs $21,324 during the 2009-10 school year, versus $15,661 at for-profit private institutions and $6,397 at public four-year colleges.


Digging a little bit deeper reveals that Pennsylvania holds six of the top 10 spots on the list of most expensive public institutions. Driving most of those listings are Pennsylvania State University schools. Penn State's main campus ranked No. 1 among the most expensive four-year public colleges for tuition and fees.

On the other extreme, the top two least expensive four-year public colleges are Haskell Indian Nations University and Dine College, which are both among of the nation's 36 Indian tribal colleges. At Haskell, where tuition and fees run $430 a year, the college focuses on preparing its students for leadership in politics to the economy in the context of tribal, regional, national and international matters.

The University of Puerto Rico's schools also held multiple slots on the list of the 10 least expensive public, four-year colleges, with annual fees and tuition ranging from $1,320 to $2,008.

Artistry Is Expensive

The most expensive for-profit colleges also have a common theme: art. Among them: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, with its $38,200 in annual fees and tuition, AI Miami International University of Art and Design, which charges $30,550, and the Art Institute colleges, which range from $30,259 to $32,342.

One of the more painful revelations in the data is the rapid rate at which college cost are rising. Northern New Mexico College, for example, posted a 51% jump in its price tag from the 2007-2008 school year to the 2009-2010 school year. State colleges in California held six of the top 10 spots among four-year public universities and colleges, posting hikes in excess of 40%.

The increases are even steeper at some private colleges and universities. For-profit colleges and universities saw their tuitions jump dramatically, with a 99% increase for Everest University-Largo in Florida and 68% for Brown Mackie College in Fort Wayne, Ind. And among not-for-profit colleges, Wells College in New York, posted a 67% increase.

It's worth noting, however, that the institutions with the greatest increases in percentage terms were generally those with lower tuition to start. Those bargain schools are being forced by economics to start catching up with their higher priced competition.

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nobody forces you to go to college or borrow money to attend. my feeling is the entitlement society we have become. options abound to go to school on the cheap-- military service, community college, attend school overseas, take a second or third job, look for grant money, excell at your studies, live at home instead of on campus, commute, attend a community college for two years, then transfer to a high dollar school. Lastly, get a degree that will let pay your loans. ie, art majors, english majors, social work and BS of nothings, are low paying jobs, parents and grandparents need to educate in regard to income expectations and financial obligations. My wife and I are in the process of putting three children thru college with NO loans or help from anyone. thank you very much!

July 06 2011 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My question is why are cost so high. Is it the pay and benefits of the staff. Is it the upkeep of the buildings. Can't be the book you pay for them yourself. Is it give back to politician. I remember when rosemary oacar She was a teacher at a community college in cleveland (from 1968 ot 1975) but she was getting 50,000 dollar honortorium from the school while she was in office(she was a ) and after she lost her seat to being renumbered out for a ghost employee and the big house banking scandal involving overdrafts. What other cost do the colleges have

July 05 2011 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just recently graduated from a pivate 4 year college with my BSB and am looking at 50k in loans. I am in my last year for my masters and will be attending medical school next year. When all is said and done I will be 225-275k in debt. If I follow the government payment plan, Im going to end up paying over 500k back in loans. Now I already think the cost of college is out of control, but the laons are ouut of control as well. I dont see why there isnt legislature to protect against this kind of thing such as capping interest at 20 percent of the principle. I think a profit of 40-50k ofrf of each student is more than enough for uncle sam and all the private lenders. There is more studen loan debt in this country than credit card debt...

July 04 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment

Michael, I frankly think you overpaid for your education, such as it is. If you don't know the difference between principal and principle after graduating from college, it doesn't say much for the quality of "educatioon" that you received. I would try to get my money back. Unfortunately you can't get the years back tha you apparently wasted at that institution of "higher learning".

July 04 2011 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When does one know things are out if control? Consider this, since 1980 the cost of obtaining a degree at most universities and colleges has increased 100 percent every 10 years (Wells College increased their tuition 67percent in two years). In 2010 Sarah Lawrence College was the first to break the $60,000 a year threshold for an undergraduate education (Tuition, room and board). Taylor (2010) suggests that “If recent trends continue, four years at a top-tier school will cost $330,000 in 2020, $525,000 in 2028 and $785,000 in 2035. “ Believe it or not Taylor’s estimates may be too low. At 100 percent every ten years, by 2020 Sarah Lawrence will cost $480,000 and will easily break the million dollar barrier by 2035. If one follows the Lewin (2008) report, between 1982 and 2008, the costs of higher education increased over 430% which suggests that costs have increased 150 percent every ten years. At that rate Sarah Lawrence will reach the million dollar mark by 2025. This raises a question-Who will be the first to have their grandchild get the million dollar diploma? In 2011 it is expected that Columbia, NYU and Bard will join the $60,000 club with many more to follow. The unthinkable million dollar degree is around the corner. Of course this is only for 4-year private so-called elitist institutions not the public institutions.

July 03 2011 at 2:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to czander's comment

czander, I like your logic. It is basically the same as the old saw, "If it takes seven ships seven days to cross the Atlantic, how long does it ake for one ship"? Tha answer is obvious, following your logice it will only take one day..

July 04 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My attorney, Larry Handley of Ankeny, Iowa, used the wrong cost scale for college costs at trial, so my ex-wife didn't have to pay as much as she should have. He completely screwed up my casein many other areas, also.

July 03 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People on this board are complaining about tuition costs-grow up folks-you should only attend what you can afford. Everyone in my family spent their first 2 years in community college- very affordable. We then chose wisely- Kings Point for my eldest son was very affordable. I attended Rutgers University, again very affordable. Going to college is no different then buying a house- only purchase what you can afford and stop whining!

July 02 2011 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Go to college and you will be in debt and probably will end up as a server in a restaurant and/ or flipping burgers with that fancy degree

July 02 2011 at 1:50 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Your headline is misleading. "Best" and "worst" deals and the highest and lowest tuition rates do not necessarily correlate. Your article does not even attempt to address what makes a college a better "deal" than another. My son will be a 4th year at the U of St Andrews (UK) where tuition next year will be about 24K for a student from the US. In my opinion a superb "deal" for the experiences he has had, the international student body, the strong physics program, and the chance to grow up away from his parents (that is a big part of the college experience; was and always should be).

July 01 2011 at 11:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sjw8eblvd's comment

Well put. I like your logic and the imaginative way you solved the problem of paying for a valuable education.

July 04 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The elected officials from White House to local governments and private industry do not care about preparing high school graduates to pursue higher education to prepare them for jobs and for career development, due to the fact that no elected official has ever voiced out tempering the runaway uncontrollably expensive costs of college education and I still have to see private industry giving inputs in real terms as to at least a five year plan to partner with colleges and universities, a comprehensive skill inventory that would respond to the continuing skills required to pair these graduates to jobs required by them. Add to this, the fact that Congress legislates immigration laws that allows foreign graduates from third world countries to be hired by private industries for more profit, i.e., foreign workers are paid less than the market value of the job and local hirees. This is such injustice to local graduates who struggled to finish college degrees and saddled with humongous student loans. This should stop. Email your congressmen about this concerns.

July 01 2011 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't envy parents who have kids in college these days. College costs can bankrupt some parents and derail their own retirement plans. The costs of some if not most colleges have become prohibitively expensive. Many kids don't know what they want to do and are waisting there time going directly from high school into college. Unless they are focused on an " in-demand" career there is going to be a lot of money going out the window or for which big loans have to be paid back with little job opportunities. Many young people aren't college material and shouldn't be there in the first place. Guidance counselors have always been a joke. When I went to college they were pretty much useless and more distracting and detrimental instead of helpful. I doubt much has changed.

July 01 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply