Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Over 50K College Cost Club (Per Year) ... Who's in it?

What do Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins have in common? They all cost over $50K per year to attend and they all made it onto the list of the top ten most expensive colleges in America, according to numbers recently compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Two of the three, Georgetown and GW, are perennial favorites having been among the top 20 most expensive colleges since at least 2003.

For the second year in a row, Sarah Lawrence College in New York has the dubious honor of being the most expensive college in the nation with tuition, fees, room and board totaling $55,788. Georgetown ($52,161) comes in at number three, with GW ($51,775) and Johns Hopkins ($51,690) holding the number five and six spots. St. John’s College in Annapolis joined other local $50K Club members at number 42 with costs totaling $50,352 per year.

It’s no secret that the cost of post-secondary education has gone up faster than the prices of other goods and services. Last year, only five private nonprofit colleges and universities in the country could boast of membership in the $50K Club. This year, the list has grown to 58. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down, despite press releases from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) announcing that tuition at private colleges rose only 4.3 percent—the smallest increase in 37 years. In fact, it appears that the market can bear much more as many of the nation’s most expensive institutions have seen no drop in demand.

Although generous aid packages mean that most students don't pay sticker price, it’s fair to say college is rapidly becoming a luxury outside the means of middle class families. While aggressive building campaigns and upgrades in other campus amenities may account for a huge hunk of the need for higher revenue, it’s also true that increased need for financial aid among students figures into the equation. It’s a vicious cycle that depends heavily on some students paying full freight while colleges continue to gamble that the economy will improve enough for them to stop dipping into endowments some time before the bottom falls out.

America's Top Ten Most Expensive Colleges and Universities
Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Landmark College, VT
Georgetown University, DC
New York University
George Washington University, DC
Johns Hopkins University, MD
Columbia University, NY
Wesleyan University, CT
Trinity College, CT
Washington University, MO

The above information was written by: Nancy Greisemer of College Explorations.

My alma mater, Emory University, also is part of the elite over 50K first year college costs. The 2009 -2010 estimated costs for tuition, room and board, student fees, books, and travel amount to 51K. Although, only 1/3 of students pay the sticker price. Financial Aid and scholarships are key to making these colleges listed affordable.  (Lone Star Ed Consulting, Lauren Kahn, M.A.)

To check the cost of your potential dream college, visit The Chronicle's tuition and cost database. The figures represent charges to first-time, full-time undergraduates based, typically, on a nine-month academic year of 30 semester hours or 45 quarter-hours. An asterisk (*) indicates that an institution provided projected figures for 2009-10. The designation “n/a” indicates that figures were not available.

The data does not reflect the cost of attendance at an institution after grants and other student aid are considered. This net cost is often lower than the published fees shown.

Tip of the Week: (Belated Free Advice Friday) Deadlines still matter: Need-based financial aid is an annual process. Students have to fill out a Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year, and, if their college uses it, a CSS -Profile form. "Over the years, I've noticed the rising sophomore is the student who tends to be late filing," Mr. Gelinas said. After all, students are only on campus for a few months before they have to apply for aid again. It does not stop after freshman year. Also, know what GPA you need to maintain in order to keep your scholarship.

It is not too late to jump start your college planning process. The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

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Thank you for your comment. Your input is greatly appreciated. - College News from Texas - Lauren Kahn, M.A.

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