It's not your imagination. College tuition continues to rise steeply, and for all the university administrator protestations about rising costs, one thing remains abysmally clear: Your kid's senior year of college is going to cost 33% to 52% more than his freshman year did. And freshman year is going to cost plenty.
The U.S. federal education department just released its annual college tuition index - or as some pundits call it, the "hall of shame" - and the news is not good. Public university tuition rose 15.6% between 2010-11 and 2011-12, private 4-year tuition went up 10.2%, and Sarah Lawrence lost the dubious distinction of being the most expensive university in America. Columbia University is now the priciest at $45,290 - not including room and board, books ($1,000 average) or the obligatory laptop, lab fees and other pocketbook-depleting costs everyone forgets about. Once you add in housing, textbooks and incidentals, that four-year degree is likely accompanied by a quarter-million dollar tab.
You'll find the complete list at the link above. All 65 or so private universities listed top the $40,000 mark. These are the 10 most expensive schools in the U.S.
Most Expensive Private Universities 2012
- Columbia University, New York: $45,290, tuition only
- Sarah Lawrence College, New York: $45,212
- Vassar College, New York: $44,705
- George Washington University, Washington, D.C.: $44,148
- Trinity College, Connecticut: $44,070
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania: $44,010
- Connecticut College, Connecticut: $43,990
- Wesleyan University, Connecticut: $43,974
- Bucknell University, Pennsylvania: $43,866
- Bard College at Simon's Rock, Massachusetts: $43,840
Most Expensive Public Universities 2012
- University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: $16,132
- Pennsylvania State, Main Campus: $15,984
- University of New Hampshire, Main Campus: $15,250
- University of Vermont: $14,784
- Colorado School of Mines: $14,453
- St Mary's College of Maryland: $14,445
- New Jersey Institute of Technology: $13,974
- College of New Jersey: $13,887
- University of California, Davis: $13,860
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: $13,838
Least Expensive Universities
The federal figures also include private schools with the lowest tuition rates. Many are schools you may not have heard of - Kentucky's Berea College, for example, is the least expensive at $910 per year. North Dakota's Turtle Mountain Community College is second at $2,250. The big surprise on the list is the third least pricey: Curtis Institute of Music ($2,300), one of the nation's top music conservatories.
The least expensive public universities include Kansas' Haskell Indian Nations University at $182, Arizona's Dine College (Navajo) at $805 and Colorado Mountain College at $1,770.