Thousands of rising high school seniors around Washington will soon mobilize to begin the tedious-but-rewarding task of applying to some of the nation’s finest private universities.
Private national universities, as a rule of thumb, charge about $50,000 a year in tuition, fees and living expenses. But the amount the average student actually pays is a different story.
The release last week of a new federal Web site devoted to “net price” of American universities potentially signals the start of a new era in college admissions. Net price is the sticker price of college minus grant aid, a sort of “bottom line” figure for each institution.
Some $50,000 schools have surprisingly low net prices, resulting from unusually generous need-based aid or aggressive merit aid. Others have strikingly high net prices, meaning that the school is unable or unwilling to match its peers in providing need-based aid or merit discounts.
Here is a list of 10 prominent national universities and liberal arts schools cited on the federal Web site for high net price. Think of it as a new variation on the old theme of Most Expensive Colleges.
New York University: $34,011
Northeastern University: $32,703
Catholic University: $32,122
Fordham University: $31,916
Sarah Lawrence College: $30,963
Oberlin College: $30,433
University of Rochester: $30,317
Rensselaer Polytechnic: $30,215
Carnegie Mellon University: $29,746
Harvey Mudd College: $29,667
The major drawback of the new Web site is that it offers only short lists of highest and lowest prices, rather than searchable/sortable lists of every school. For that level of data, you still have to go to the comparatively dense IPEDS Data Center.