50-50 Highlights: Most Expensive Colleges

50-50 Highlights: Most Expensive Colleges

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stack of money representing most expensive collegesThe point of the 50-50 schools list is to identify colleges and universities that most students can get into while meeting a minimum standard for college graduation. However, just because a school is academically accessible doesn’t mean that students can afford to attend. Some of the most expensive colleges make the list. Like colleges and universities in general, colleges on the 50-50 list vary dramatically in their financial aid generosity.

The fact is that some 50-50 colleges will end up costing families significantly more than others. However, you can’t simply tell which are the most expensive colleges by comparing tuition and fees or the average cost of attendance. As in the case of the airline industry, few people actually pay the sticker price. A better comparison is the Average Net Price after Gift Aid.

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How to Spot the Most Expensive Colleges

The Average Net Price After Gift Aid (I’ll refer to as net price from now on) is the average amount freshman paid after deducting all gift aid including grants and scholarships. It does not include loans or work-study. When net price is broken down by income, it only includes students who received some form of federal financial aid, including federal student loans. This means the net price calculations by family income doesn’t include students who pay full-price or received only merit scholarships from the institution.

In general, the college itself is the largest provider of gift aid, grants and scholarships, rather than any other outside sources. Since student loans are not included, looking at the average net price after gift aid gives a general idea of the generosity of the institution.

Remember, any individual could receive a substantially different amount than the average, but that’s the nature of averages.

High Average Net Price=More Expensive College

Among 268 private 50-50 schools, the unweighted average for the average net price was $27,314. A total of 77 private colleges had an average of $30,000 or greater. Of the 191 with less than $30,000 average net price, 107 were under $25,000.

Of the 173 public 50-50 schools, the unweighted average for net price was $15,909. There were 60 public schools with an average net price greater than $17,000. Twenty schools had averages over $20,000, with seven of the most expensive colleges in Pennsylvania.

Yet, Pennsylvania had the most private colleges with an average net price under $25,000 with a total of 15. Ohio and Indiana tied for second with 11 each followed by Illinois, Iowa, and New York with 8 each.

California has the most 50-50 private colleges with average net prices greater than $30,000 at 11. New York came in second with 10.  Massachusetts followed with 7 and Pennsylvania next with 5.

Of course, since Pennsylvania has the most 50-50 colleges overall, it’s not surprising it ends up appearing often on the various 50-50 list categories-both good and bad. In the case of public universities with an average net price greater than $17,000, the state leads the list with 16. This is more than twice the number of the states with the second most, Ohio and Virginia, with six each.

Less Generous Merit and Need-Based Aid

The higher the average net price, the less likely the students are to receive merit aid, or if they do, they receive much smaller amounts. Students with significant financial need are likely to gapped, especially if their academic qualifications don’t put them in the top third of the class.

However, it’s not unusual for some of these schools to provide attractive merit aid. They do this to attract more paying students but end up providing even less money to students with financial need.

The following table lists the most expensive colleges on the 50-50 list. The first tab shows all 50-50 private colleges with an average net price after gift aid of $30,000 or greater. The second tab lists the top all 50-50 public schools with an average net price of $17,000 or greater (students paying in-state tuition only). As usual, the five-year graduation rate is used for public institutions and the four-year rate is used for the private schools.

Most Expensive Colleges

College State Avg Net Price After Gift Aid (2015-2016)  Full-time Under-grads  4/5 yr Grad Rate % Freshman Receiving Pell Grants
Auburn University AL $21,698     19,738 70 13
The University of Alabama AL $20,133     28,689 64 18
University of Colorado Boulder CO $22,727     25,059 66 16
Eastern Connecticut State University CT $17,014        4,267 53 35
Georgia College and State University GA $19,717        5,586 58 18
Illinois State University IL $18,415     17,151 69 30
University of Kansas KS $18,014     17,191 60 23
University of Kentucky KY $17,850     21,199 59 24
Maine Maritime Academy ME $19,225           968 60 25
St. Mary’s College of Maryland MD $19,711        1,646 71 21
Salisbury University MD $17,678        7,148 66 21
Massachusetts College of Art and Design MA $21,695        1,546 70 31
University of Massachusetts Amherst MA $20,093     21,098 75 19
University of Massachusetts-Lowell MA $18,348        9,830 52 25
Framingham State University MA $17,039        3,826 52 38
University of New Hampshire NH $23,066     12,687 76 23
Plymouth State University NH $20,844        3,820 53 32
Keene State College NH $18,647        4,097 62 26
Rowan University NJ $18,067     11,710 68 30
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry NY $18,079        1,726 74 20
SUNY College at Cortland NY $17,422        6,179 73 30
SUNY College at Geneseo NY $17,283        5,470 80 25
Ohio University OH $21,899     17,392 60 26
Miami University-Oxford OH $20,186     16,023 77 10
University of Cincinnati OH $19,978     21,017 62 23
Kent State University at Kent OH $18,180     19,207 50 32
Ohio State University OH $17,971     41,117 81 17
Bowling Green State University OH $17,313     13,214 50 34
Oklahoma City University OK $17,966     18,133 63 20
Oregon State University OR $19,484     18,493 57 28
Pennsylvania State University Main Campus PA $25,055     39,520 83 12
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus PA $23,572     17,887 79 13
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Altoona PA $22,383        3,684 65 29
Pennsylvania State University-Erie-Behrend College PA $22,227        3,955 60 30
Temple University PA $21,237     25,318 66 28
Penn State Harrisburg PA $20,951        3,439 59 30
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Berks PA $20,767        2,602 53 33
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania PA $19,385        7,808 52 37
West Chester University of Pennsylvania PA $18,651     12,772 67 23
Millersville University of Pennsylvania PA $18,624        6,151 58 29
Shippensburg University PA $18,342        5,665 54 33
California University of Pennsylvania PA $17,819        4,995 51 45
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown PA $17,804        2,744 51 33
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania PA $17,443        7,057 66 31
Indiana University of Pennsylvania PA $17,264     10,905 51 43
Marywood University PA $17,080        2,048 50 44
University of Rhode Island RI $18,391     12,293 59 24
University of South Carolina-Columbia SC $19,913     23,613 70 17
College of Charleston SC $18,877        9,590 68 24
Citadel Military College of South Carolina SC $18,465        2,461 68 21
Clemson University SC $17,797     17,238 79 16
University of Tennessee TN $20,780     20,569 65 28
University of Vermont VT $17,816        9,991 73 16
Christopher Newport University VA $22,637        4,961 74 15
Virginia Commonwealth University VA $20,544     20,137 56 31
University of Mary Washington VA $20,499        3,796 70 15
Longwood University VA $18,835        4,141 62 27
George Mason University VA $18,032     18,430 65 28
Virginia Tech VA $17,190     24,841 81 14
Washington State University WA $17,815     21,384 62 33
50-50 Highlights: Most Expensive Colleges