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Top 10 priciest colleges. and the cheapest

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No matter how much money you’ve got in your bank account, pricing out a year at college can cause anyone to go into sticker shock. True, it’s an investment that pays dividends over a lifetime, but upfront costs are an important consideration for anyone thinking of going to school. Tuition alone can top $30,000 at some private colleges.

On average, the price of a private college is about four times that of a public university. And while there are plenty of exceptions, good schools can command higher tuition than their less-celebrated peers.

“Like anything else, it’s supply and demand,” says Jeff Selingo, business and politics editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. With more students graduating from high school — and a college degree considered essential to securing a good job — colleges are able to charge more for their services.

While the sticker prices are surprising, they’re not the full story, says Selingo.

“Few people actually pay what is advertised,” he says. “What also goes into that is federal and state financial aid, college scholarships and institutional aid. There’s a lot of money that’s immediately deducted from that price.”

Listed below are the most expensive colleges — as well as those that will make the smallest impact on your pocketbook.

All of the figures are based on tuition and required fees charged to first-time, full-time undergraduates at four-year undergraduate colleges and universities that award at least half their baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts fields and are based on a nine-month academic year of 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours. The numbers represent 2004-05 costs gathered by the College Board. Prices for public colleges and universities are for in-state residents.

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