As soon as you bring up total cost of attendance of private colleges, or the “sticker price,” many college presidents will immediately point to campus financial aid programs and programs including Federal Pell Grants that help low-income students attend their campuses.
“Independent colleges need a little bit of attention about how much we give and how much our alumni give back to access for students across the board,” said Milton Moreland, president of Centre College on a Sept. 9 media call with 11 other private college presidents after being asked by the Business Journals' Hilary Burns about the rising costs of private education.
While most students do pay lower totals after receiving financial aid and grants, the fact remains that the price tag of higher education continues to climb, especially at elite schools with brand recognition, low admission rates and high rankings. The Business Journals' analysis of recent disclosures from the Department of Education found that 123 U.S. colleges and universities now boast sticker prices over $70,000.
Of the 25 most expensive colleges in the country, ranked by total cost of attendance for the most recent academic year, the sticker prices grew an average of 37% over the last decade, even as average U.S. wages remained stagnant. Total cost of attendance, or sticker price, is the cost before financial aid, grants and scholarships are applied, and includes tuition, on-campus room and board, books, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses.