Aside from buying a house, paying for college is one of the biggest expenses most people will have in their lives. Whether you pay for it out of pocket or take out a student loan or other financial aid, going to college is expensive. Among the cost of tuition, paying for room and board, and spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on textbooks, nothing comes cheap once you step on campus.
Some of the most expensive colleges in the country are clustered in and around a few big cities. Here are the eight cities with the most expensive institutions of higher learning in the U.S., based on the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $43,637
Thanks to Southern Methodist University cracking the top 20 (it’s No. 16 with $52,498 in tuition and fees), the Dallas area checks in as one of the cities with the most expensive colleges in the country.
Other nearby schools, including Texas Christian University in Fort Worth (No. 56 with $44,760 in average tuition and fees) and the University of Texas-Dallas (No. 111 with $33,654 in tuition and fees) check in further down the list. That keeps Dallas on the affordable side when it comes to paying for college.
7. Durham, North Carolina
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $46,577
Duke University, which comes in as the No. 6 most expensive college ($53,744) in the country and ranks No. 9 overall on the U.S. News & World Report list, leads the way for the universities located in central North Carolina. Wake Forest University, which is a little over an hour away from Duke in Winston-Salem, checks in at No. 27 on the list of most expensive ($51,400), but the University of North Carolina’s main campus in Chapel Hill is just $34,588 for out-of-state tuition (No. 105 overall), helping keep the state’s college costs down a bit.
6. Los Angeles
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $48,479
The University of Southern California comes in at No. 4 on the list of most expensive with tuition and fees of $54,259 each year. The California Institute of Technology, less than 15 miles away from USC in Pasadena, is No. 33 at $49,908. But the University of California-Los Angeles checks in as an affordable option at $41,270 for tuition and fees each year, which is No. 78 on the list.
5. Washington, D.C.
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $50,811
Thanks in part to two schools cracking the top 20 of the U.S. News & World Report of most expensive, Washington, D.C., comes in as one of the cities with the most costly colleges. George Washington University was in the top 10 (No. 9, $53,518). And Georgetown University made the top 20 (No. 18, $52,300). It is American University and its $46,615 tuition and fees (No. 51 overall) that impacted the average for Washington, D.C.
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $51,122
The University of Chicago and its No. 2 ranking as the country’s most expensive university ($54,825 per year in tuition and fees) helped boost Chicago’s ranking. Northwestern University, just outside the Chicago city limits in Evanston, checked in at No. 15 on the list ($52,678). But the next Chicago school on the list, the Illinois Institute of Technology, fell outside the top 50 at a relatively affordable $45,864 per year (No. 54).
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $52,323
While the City of Brotherly Love has just one university that lands in the top 10 U.S. News & World Report list of most expensive in the country — the University of Pennsylvania at No. 8 with $53,534 for tuition and fees — it has several institutions just outside the top 20. Drexel lands at No. 22 ($52,002), and Villanova checks in at No. 26 ($51,434). Lehigh, which sits about 40 miles outside the city limits in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and was not factored into the average, comes in at No. 29 ($50,740).
2. New York City
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $52,757
The Big Apple’s Columbia University checks in as the country’s most expensive university, with tuition and fees of $57,208 each year. New York didn’t place another school in the top 20, but Fordham University (No. 30, $50,601) and New York University (No. 32, $50,464) hover right around the top 30, helping to boost New York’s standing.
The Stevens Institute of Technology, across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey, is also among the most expensive colleges in the country with tuition and fees approaching $51,554, which is good for No. 31 on the list, though it was not factored into the average.
- Average tuition of the three most expensive schools: $53,748
Boston is known as a town with a bevy of colleges and universities. But Harvard, probably the most well-known of the universities in the metro area, doesn’t factor into the average of the most expensive schools. The honor of most expensive goes to Tufts University. The school in Medford, Massachusetts, (about four miles northwest of downtown Boston) comes in at No. 3 on the list of most expensive colleges at $54,318 for tuition and fees each year.
Brandeis University, less than 10 miles from the Boston city limits in Waltham, Massachusetts, ranks No. 7 on the list of most expensive ($53,582) colleges. And Boston College, just outside the city in Chestnut Hill, is No. 11 on the list ($53,346). Boston University checks in as the most expensive within the city itself (No. 20, $52,082). As for the esteemed Harvard? It ranks No. 38 ($48,949) — behind MIT (No. 34, $49,892) and Northeastern University (No. 36, $49,497).