Phi Beta Cons

America’s Least Expensive Private Colleges

A few months ago, I posted a list of America’s most expensive colleges, which ranged between $55,000 and $60,000 in total annual cost, including tuition, fees, and room and board. Yesterday, U.S. News published a list of America’s least-expensive private colleges. The difference in cost is astounding, and this “least expensive” list doesn’t even include any of the numerous low-cost/high-quality public-university options out there.

At the top of the “most expensive” list, Sarah Lawrence College charges nearly $45,000 in just tuition and fees alone. Total cost with room and board is $59,170. At the top of the “least expensive” list, Berea College charges only $900 per year for tuition and fees. Total cost with room and board is $6,644 per year.

Students at Berea are required to work at least ten hours a week in campus-approved jobs to help pay for their educations. Students there are learning the value of work and personal responsibility. Plus, U.S. News ranks Berea among the top 75 liberal-arts colleges in the nation.

The obvious question is: Are Sarah Lawrence students getting a degree that is really worth $215,000 more over four years than the one Berea students are getting?

Of course they aren’t.

Here’s another question: What would our educational system be like if more colleges operated like Berea? One thing’s for certain, our exploding national student debt crisis would be remedied in a hurry.


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