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50 best private colleges ranked from least to most expensive

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50 best private colleges ranked from least to most expensive

Private colleges in the U.S. are known for having higher tuitions because of the way they are funded in comparison to public colleges. Students are frequently able to pay less than the sticker price thanks to large endowments—money or financial assets (such as real estate) donated to a nonprofit or university, usually with strict long-term guidelines. Donations are given based on the idea that they will help further the organization’s mission. An endowment fund can help a school lower tuition costs for its students, but it is also used for things like maintaining or upgrading campus facilities or hiring professors.

Students may choose a private college for a diverse set of reasons. Private colleges may have more freedom in their initiatives, as they are not funded by the government like public institutions, so uniqueness is often a draw for prospective students. A private college might also set a student up for future success with close-knit alumni networking groups or a higher-than-average expected salary upon graduation.

To determine which of the country's best colleges are least (and most) expensive, Stacker looked to Niche’s 2019 ranking of the best private colleges in the U.S. That data considered several factors, such as professors (number of awards won by faculty, student-faculty ratio); campus (quality of campus food and housing); diversity, student life (safety, diversity, athletics); local area; safety (campus crime rate, local crime rate); and the most heavily weighted factors: academics (acceptance rate, quality of professors) and value (average loan amount, alumni earnings). Niche’s data sources include the U.S. Department of Education, the universities themselves, and student and alumni surveys. Stacker then ordered the top 50 schools from Niche’s best private colleges list from least to most expensive based on 2018–19 tuition.

The decision to go to college is a big one, but where to go is perhaps an even larger one. This list may help narrow down the search. Each school in this gallery is featured along with its tuition, location, student population, student-to-faculty ratio, acceptance rate, graduation rate, and six-year median earnings. In addition, you’ll learn about factors like universities’ endowment funds, net cost after financial aid, and famous alumni.

Read on to find out which of the top 50 private colleges in the U.S. has a staggering tuition of $58,359—and which institutions are able to greatly reduce costs for their students with impressive endowment funds.  

You may also like:  Best community college in every state

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Joseph Williams // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Harvard University

- Tuition: $47,730
- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Students: 7,147 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 5% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1460-1590)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 96%; six-year median earnings: $89,700

Harvard's endowment fund sits a healthy $38.3 billion. This enables the university to award ample scholarship dollars and keep tuition below that of its Ivy League peers. Even though tuition costs over $47,000 a year, the average student pays about $17,000 after receiving aid.

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daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Rice University

- Tuition: $48,330
- Location: Houston, TX
- Students: 3,916 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 16% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1490-1580)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $65,400

Clocking in at over $48,000 a year, tuition at Rice University has steadily risen at least 3% every year since 2000. Known for its engineering and biochemistry degrees, this Texas school in 2018 announced an initiative to provide free tuition to all students whose parents earn less than $130,000 a year. On average, students pay $24,000 in tuition a year.

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Memorial Student Center Texas A&M University // Wikimedia Commons

#48. New York University

- Tuition: $49,256
- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 25,347 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 28% (ACT: 29-33; SAT: 1290-1490)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 84%; six-year median earnings: $61,900

In addition to the exorbitant cost of living in New York City, students at New York University fork over almost $50,000 a year for tuition. NYU extends merit-based scholarships to all qualifying students, which averages $37,000 per qualifying student. This hotbed for communications, marketing, and business majors holds an endowment fund of $4.3 billion.

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Piotrus // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Northeastern University

- Tuition: $50,450
- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 13,786 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 27% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1370-1520)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 87%; six-year median earnings: $67,400

At under $800 million, Northeastern holds the smallest endowment of any private research university in school-rich Boston. This might help explain why its tuition soars above $50,000 a year. After factoring in student aid, that cost drops to about $31,000 for a school known for its business degrees.

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jbaker08 // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Vanderbilt University

- Tuition: $50,800
- Location: Nashville, TN
- Students: 6,805 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 11% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1440-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $69,000

This Nashville school holds an endowment fund of $6.4 billion, generously funding aid and scholarships that reduce the eye-popping tuition from over $50,000 a year to just over $23,000. Its medical school is considered among the nation's best and musicians flock to its undergraduate music program.

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westcoastivieS // Wikimedia Commons

#45. University of Pennsylvania

- Tuition: $51,156
- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Students: 10,496 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 9% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1420-1560)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 96%; six-year median earnings: $85,900

With an endowment war chest totaling $13.8 billion, Ivy League member Penn considers itself America's first university. Its famous Wharton business school attracts aspiring moguls for both undergrad and graduate degrees. After aid disbursement, the typical student pays about $24,000 a year in tuition.

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SoisudaS // Shutterstock

#44. Princeton University

- Tuition: $51,870
- Location: Princeton, NJ
- Students: 5,260 (student to faculty ratio: 5:1)
- Acceptance rate: 6% (ACT: 31-35; SAT: 1430-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 97%; six-year median earnings: $74,700

Princeton oversees an endowment fund north of $25 billion which allows them to give substantial financial aid. The average tuition paid by each student falls dramatically from over $50,000 to about $16,000. Students pursue degrees in engineering, social sciences, biomedical sciences, and public administration.

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Canon.vs.Nikon // Wikimedia Commons

#43. California Institute of Technology

- Tuition: $52,506
- Location: Pasadena, CA
- Students: 961 (student to faculty ratio: 3:1)
- Acceptance rate: 8% (ACT: 34-35; SAT: 1530-1590)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 89%; six-year median earnings: $85,900

CalTech, as the name implies, focuses on engineering, natural science, and advanced technical degrees, including doctorates. With an endowment of $2.93 billion and a highly selective admissions process, financial aid brings the average tuition paid by each student down to about $24,000.

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King of Hearts // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Stanford University

- Tuition: $52,857
- Location: Stanford, CA
- Students: 7,064 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1)
- Acceptance rate: 5% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1390-1540)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $94,000

Stanford attracts some of the world's top engineering talent for its popular degrees in engineering, computer and information sciences, and biological and biomedical sciences. Its $26.5 billion endowment fund allows it to offer enough financial aid to drastically reduce the average tuition paid by each student to around $16,000 a year.

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Roman Boed // Flickr

#41. Colby College

- Tuition: $52,890
- Location: Waterville, ME
- Students: 1,917 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 16% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1340-1500)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $58,100

Tiny Colby College in Maine keeps an endowment of well over $800 million. Its student body studies popular majors like biology, economics, English, history, global studies, government, and psychology. After financial aid, the average student pays about $20,000 in tuition every year.

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Dacoslett // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Davidson College

- Tuition: $52,991
- Location: Davidson, NC
- Students: 1,810 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 20% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1310-1470)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $58,900

With $821.8 million banked in endowment, Davidson College punches above its weight with 23 Rhodes Scholars hailing from the Christian liberal arts school. Average tuition paid by each student runs about $28,000 a year. Biology/biological sciences, political science, economics, psychology, and literature are the school's most-popular majors.

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Mpspqr // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Emory University

- Tuition: $53,070
- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Students: 6,794 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 22% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1350-1520)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $66,000

Niche's #1 in Best Christian Colleges in America, Emory is known for its business, biology, nursing, economics, and psychology programs. Emory has amassed a $7.31 billion endowment, some of which goes toward financial-aid packages that reduce the average tuition cost to about $27,000 a year.

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Fcb981/Thermos // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Tuition: $53,450
- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Students: 4,510 (student to faculty ratio: 3:1)
- Acceptance rate: 7% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1490-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $104,700

MIT sits atop Niche's rankings as the #1 in Best Colleges in America, making it one of the world's preeminent learning institutions. As expected from a technology school, MIT's top degrees trend toward the sciences with computer science, mechanical engineering, mathematics, electrical engineering, and physics drawing the most student demand. A $16.4 billion endowment allows it to offer enough aid to bring down the average tuition cost to about $22,000 a year.

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Washington and Lee University

- Tuition: $53,730
- Location: Lexington, VA
- Students: 1,823 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 22% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1350-1490)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $76,100

The ninth-oldest university in the United States, W&L holds $1.47 billion in endowment. At over $25,000 a year, the large endowment doesn't equate to as low of an average tuition as its peers on this list. The five most-popular majors at this small Virginia university are business, accounting, economics, political science, and English.

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daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Smith College

- Tuition: $53,940
- Location: Northampton, MA
- Students: 2,505 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 32% (ACT: 28-31; SAT: 1240-1470)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 88%; six-year median earnings: $46,200

With just under $2 billion in the bank, Niche's #3 in Best Women's Colleges in America gives out enough aid to cut the average tuition just about in half, at almost $27,000 a year. One of the “Seven Sisters” all-female colleges in the Northeast, Smith College attracts students who are seeking degrees in psychology, economics, political science, biology, and engineering.

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Adam Jones // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Washington University in St. Louis

- Tuition: $54,250
- Location: Saint Louis, MO
- Students: 7,074 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 16% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1470-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $70,100

Another school whose large endowment does not equal drastically lower tuition costs, Washington University keeps $7.7 billion as endowment and students pay on average more than $27,000 a year. Named after Founding Father George Washington, the school excels at finance, psychology, computer science, marketing, and biology.

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Swarthmore College

- Tuition: $54,256
- Location: Swarthmore, PA
- Students: 1,573 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 11% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1380-1540)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $56,700

Highly selective Swarthmore—one of the nation's first colleges to go coed—keeps an endowment fund of $2.12 billion, which it leverages to cut the average tuition paid by more than half to about $20,000. Ranked as Niche's #4 in Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America, Swarthmore's most-popular majors include economics, information science, biology, mathematics, and engineering.

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Chensiyuan // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Brown University

- Tuition: $54,320
- Location: Providence, RI
- Students: 6,666 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 8% (ACT: 31-35; SAT: 1400-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $67,500

According to Niche, Princeton has the best instructors, earning the #1 spot in Colleges with the Best Professors in America. A $3.8 billion endowment allows it to dole out the scholarships, cutting the average tuition down to about $25,000 a year. Brown's five most-popular majors are biology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and engineering.

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Nostalgicwisdom // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Pomona College

- Tuition: $54,380
- Location: Claremont, CA
- Students: 1,578 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 8% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1370-1530)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $58,100

A charter member of the Claremont Colleges—a consortium of New England-style, small, liberal arts schools in Southern California—Pomona holds an endowment fund of $2.17 billion. This huge endowment relative to a small student body means it can subsidize tuition costs, dropping average tuition all the way down to about $18,000 a year. Students flock to Niche's #1 in Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America to study the sciences, including economics, computer science, mathematics, psychology, and neuroscience and neurobiology.

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Almassengale // Flickr

#31. Wake Forest University

- Tuition: $54,430
- Location: Winston-Salem, NC
- Students: 5,046 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 28% (ACT: 28-32; SAT: 1270-1410)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 88%; six-year median earnings: $63,800

Part of North Carolina's famed “Research Triangle,” Wake Forest maintains an endowment fund just north of $1.3 billion. The average tuition runs to just under $24,000 at a school known for its degrees in economics, communications, psychology, business, and finance.

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David Mark // Pixabay

#30. Carleton College

- Tuition: $54,438
- Location: Northfield, MN
- Students: 2,055 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 21% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1360-1530)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $54,200

Ranked by Niche as the #8 in Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America, Carleton opened in 1866 and now manages an endowment fund of $894 million. Average tuition remains steep, at over $28,000 for a school whose most-popular majors are computer science, biology, economics, international relations, and chemistry.

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Snapper Tams // Wikimedia Commons

#29. University of Richmond

- Tuition: $54,690
- Location: University of Richmond, VA
- Students: 3,035 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 33% (ACT: 29-32; SAT: 1270-1460)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 88%; six-year median earnings: $64,500

Commerce is king at the University of Richmond. Niche's #8 Best Colleges for Business in America, it comes as no surprise the university has a huge endowment fund of $2.37 billion. Also unsurprising is that business is far and away the top major here, followed by liberal arts, organizational behavior studies, accounting, and biology. On average, students pay about $24,000 a year in tuition.

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ros516 // Shutterstock

#28. Lehigh University

- Tuition: $54,790
- Location: Bethlehem, PA
- Students: 5,013 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 25% (ACT: 29-32; SAT: 1270-1430)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 86%; six-year median earnings: $81,900

Despite high tuition, Lehigh is Pennsylvania's second-best value, according to Niche. A $1.16 billion endowment keeps the scholarships coming, reducing average annual tuition to around $27,000. A latecomer to the coed scene—the school began admitting women only in 1971—and with a thriving Greek scene, Lehigh has undergraduate and graduate programs, the most-popular of which are finance, mechanical engineering, computer science, accounting, and marketing.

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Rocky Talinto // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Bates College

- Tuition: $55,210
- Location: Lewiston, ME
- Students: 1,787 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 22% (ACT: 30-32; SAT: 1385-1460)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $59,200

Tiny Bates College holds a relatively meager endowment fund of just under $294 million, yet manages to provide enough financial aid to drop the average tuition by over half to about $23,000 a year. Students also eat well, earning the #3 spot on Niche's Best College Food in America. Offering only undergraduate programs, students prefer majors in economics, political science, psychology, mathematics, and environmental science.

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#26. University of Southern California

- Tuition: $55,320
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Students: 18,631 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 17% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1300-1500)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $74,000

Embroiled in the still-brewing college admissions scandal, USC earned Niche's #1 spot on a host of lists, including Best Colleges for Design in America, Best Colleges for Film and Photography in America, and Best Big Colleges in America. All this popularity comes at a steep cost, however, as average annual tuition remains high at almost $33,000 a year. It also keeps a colossal endowment fund of $5.5 billion. As expected, the school attracts budding creatives to its famed film department, but it's most popular majors are actually business, communications, biology, accounting, and international relations.

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daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Johns Hopkins University

- Tuition: $55,350
- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Students: 5,668 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 13% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1450-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $73,200

The average loan amount for the 35% of Johns Hopkins students that borrow is above the national average of $6,768 at $7,036 per year; and 68% of students receive financial aid, with the total aid awarded far surpassing the national average of $7,535 at $38,542 annually. Popular majors for this East Coast school include bioengineering and biomedical engineering: Researchers at Johns Hopkins have recently pioneered a liquid biopsy test called CancerSEEK to help detect certain cancer types earlier, which will be developed by a company launched in May 2019.

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Gtownsfs // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Georgetown University

- Tuition: $55,440
- Location: Washington D.C.
- Students: 6,987 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 16% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1350-1520)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $93,500

With an endowment of $1.66 billion, the average cost after aid is $27,420 annually. Georgetown was one of eight schools swept up in a nationwide college admissions scandal uncovered in 2019; in May the university announced expulsions of two students involved.

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#23. Yale University

- Tuition: $55,500
- Location: New Haven, CT
- Students: 5,743 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 7% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1460-1580)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 97%; six-year median earnings: $83,200

The average cost for Yale's students is $18,053 per year. The Ivy League university had an endowment of $29.4 billion in 2018, which the Yale Investments Office attributes to “sensible long-term investment policies, grounded by a commitment to equities and a belief in diversification.” Yale provost and economics professor Ben Polak calls the Yale Investments Office “simply the best in the world.”

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Matthew Rice // Wikimedia Commons

#22. University of Notre Dame

- Tuition: $55,553
- Location: Notre Dame, IN
- Students: 8,557 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 19% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1370-1520)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $78,400

Also Niche's #1 best Catholic college in the country, accounting, economics, and finance are popular majors at the University of Notre Dame. The school raised $13.1 billion in endowment in 2018—a record for the institution—with the average annual cost for students after federal aid at $27,453.

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Gunnar Klack // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Dartmouth College

- Tuition: $55,605
- Location: Hanover, NH
- Students: 4,360 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 10% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1430-1560)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 96%; six-year median earnings: $75,500

Close to half (45%) of Dartmouth students take out loans during their time at the university, with an average loan amount $6,239 per year. 60% of students receive some sort of financial aid at Dartmouth, which has an endowment of $5.5 billion, and the average net price for the #1 college in New Hampshire is $22,303 per year. Computer science, economics, political science and government are all favored majors at the 223-year-old institution.

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Jared and Corin // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Wellesley College

- Tuition: $55,728
- Location: Wellesley, MA
- Students: 2,374 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 28% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1360-1530)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $60,800

A part of the group of East Coast women's colleges known as the Seven Sisters, Wellesley College has an endowment of $2.1 billion, with the average cost of those students receiving aid amounting to an annual $20,189. Hillary Clinton (class of ‘69) is among this liberal college's notable alumni; in an address to the graduating class of 1992, Clinton said: “Wellesley nurtured, challenged, and guided me; it instilled in me, not just knowledge, but a reserve of sustaining values.”

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#19. Barnard College

- Tuition: $55,781
- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 2,514 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1310-1500)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $57,900

Rated the #1 women's college in the U.S. by Niche, this Seven Sister has an endowment of $327.2 million; students have an average cost of $23,736 each year. Barnard College, which remains an all-female college, attracts psychology, economics, and political science and government majors.

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daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Middlebury College

- Tuition: $55,790
- Location: Middlebury, VT
- Students: 2,528 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 17% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1320-1510)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $58,200

The 26% of Middlebury College students taking out loans borrows $6,508 each year, slightly less than the national average of $6,768. With an endowment of $1.12 billion, the net price for a year at this school costs students $22,841. In-demand majors include economics, political science and government, and environmental science.

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Asamudra // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Carnegie Mellon University

- Tuition: $55,816
- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Students: 6,298 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 22% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1430-1560)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 89%; six-year median earnings: $83,600

While the most popular majors are computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering, Carnegie Mellon University has attracted world-class artists, such as Leslie Odom Jr. of “Hamilton” fame, Broadway musical “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz, and famed artist Andy Warhol. The institution has an endowment of $1.9 billion, which still leaves students paying a net price of $29,817 per year.

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daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Bowdoin College

- Tuition: $55,822
- Location: Brunswick, ME
- Students: 1,813 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 14% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1360-1510)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $65,500

Political science and government is one of the top majors at Bowdoin: It attracted

Black Lives Matter founder DeRay Mckesson (class of 2007), who served as president of Bowdoin Student Government. Mathematics is also a popular major at the university, which CEO and cofounder of Netflix Reed Hastings (‘83) studied during his time at Bowdoin. An endowment of $1.63 billion takes down costs for students to an average net price of $24,447 per year.

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DanielPenfield // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Hamilton College

- Tuition: $55,970
- Location: Clinton, NY
- Students: 1,886 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 24% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1360-1510)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $60,200

Hamilton College's history is deeply rooted in American history, going back to 1793—Founding Father Alexander Hamilton served as one of the institution's first trustees. The schools endowment is $1.06 billion, with a year of education costing students an average of $22,139. Hamilton College graduated notable American writer Samuel Hopkins Adams, as well as cofounder and first CEO of Netflix Marc Randolph.

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Victoire Chalupy // Wikipedia

#14. Claremont McKenna College

- Tuition: $56,190
- Location: Claremont, CA
- Students: 1,337 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 10% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1340-1510)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 90%; six-year median earnings: $72,900

The alma mater of Robin Williams, Claremont McKenna College attracts those interested in liberal arts and humanities, economics, and political science and government. The university has an endowment of $835 million, leaving students paying an average of $28,712 every year. The 29% of students who take out loans borrow on average $4,369 yearly.
 

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Jackbauerinvc // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Haverford College

- Tuition: $56,200
- Location: Haverford, PA
- Students: 1,294 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 20% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1390-1530)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $60,700

With an endowment of $528 million, Haverford College students pay an average of $23,582 per year, with 24% of students borrowing money and half of students receiving some kind of financial aid. Biology, economics, and English are top majors for students at Haverford.

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Paul R. Burley // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Northwestern University

- Tuition: $56,232
- Location: Evanston, IL
- Students: 8,205 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 9% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1420-1560)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $69,000

Northwestern University, which has a significant endowment of $11.01 billion, is the alma mater of many notable figures in politics, as well as the entertainment and arts industry, such as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, author George R.R. Martin, rapper Pharrell Williams, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Communications, economics, and psychology are the most popular majors at Northwestern, which is also Niche's #1 best college in Illinois. Students pay an average of $26,099 each year.

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Sach1tb // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Cornell University

- Tuition: $56,550
- Location: Ithaca, NY
- Students: 14,898 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 13% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1390-1550)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $77,200

Cornell University has an impressive array of alumni, from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison (“Beloved”) to scientist Barbara McClintock and the first black woman in space, astronaut Mae Jemison. A $7.2 billion endowment brings cost for students to $31,449 per year at Cornell, which is also Niche's best college for agricultural sciences in the country.

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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#10. Columbia University

- Tuition: $56,608
- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 7,592 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 7% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1410-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $83,300

An impressive endowment of $10.9 billion leaves students paying a yearly $22,824 to attend Columbia University, which is Niche's #1 college in the U.S. for English. Other popular majors include economics, computer science, and political science and government. Columbia is the alma mater of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who attended Columbia Law School, and the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama.

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Wesleyan University

- Tuition: $56,704
- Location: Middletown, CT
- Students: 2,896 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 16% (ACT: 29-33; SAT: 1300-1480)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 90%; six-year median earnings: $54,700

Also ranked the #1 liberal arts college in Connecticut by Niche, Wesleyan University has an endowment of $1.065 billion. Students are left paying a net price of $24,251 per year, with 29% of students taking out loans; the average loan amount is an annual $5,744. Economics, English, and political science and government are the top majors at Wesleyan.

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Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism // Flickr

#8. Boston College

- Tuition: $56,780
- Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
- Students: 9,681 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1)
- Acceptance rate: 32% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1320-1490)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $72,500

Alma mater of former United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Bostons first institution of higher learning has an endowment of $2.6 billion, with students paying $27,299 per year. The most popular majors at Boston College include economics, finance, and psychology. The 38% of students taking out loans borrow an average of $3,607 each year.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Williams College

- Tuition: $56,970
- Location: Williamstown, MA
- Students: 2,047 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 31-35; SAT: 1400-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $59,000

The Williams College Investment Office reports an endowment of over $1 million per student, which it says allows the school to meet the financial needs of students, while also sustaining educational offerings. The average net price for a student attending Williams, established in 1793, is $20,380 each year. The alma matter of James Garfield, the 20th U.S. president, is popular for economics, English, and mathematics.

https://investment.williams.edu/files/investment_report_2018_FINAL2.pdf

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Tufts University

- Tuition: $57,324
- Location: Medford, MA
- Students: 5,483 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1410-1540)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $75,800

Tufts University, which attracts students interested in biology, economics, and international relations, has an endowment of $1.85 billion. Tufts costs students an average of $29,449 annually, with 45% receiving financial aid of some kind. The 22% of students taking out loans borrow about $6,945 each year.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Amherst College

- Tuition: $57,640
- Location: Amherst, MA
- Students: 1,836 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 13% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1400-1560)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $65,000

Amherst students pay about $19,519 each year thanks to an endowment of $2.25 billion. Only 15% of students take out loans, with the average loan amount being $5,460 each year. Economics, mathematics, and research and experimental psychology are leading majors at the school; Amherst is the alma mater of Calvin Coolidge, the U.S.'s 30th president. The East Coast college also graduated author of “The Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown.

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Jannis Tobias Werner // Shutterstock

#4. University of Chicago

- Tuition: $57,642
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Students: 5,978 (student to faculty ratio: 5:1)
- Acceptance rate: 8% (ACT: 32-35; SAT: 1480-1580)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $68,100

An endowment of $8.2 billion still leaves students at the University of Chicago paying an annual $34,834. The 9% of students that take out loans borrow a yearly $10,381. Biology, economics, and mathematics are the most favored majors at this Midwest school, which is home to 91 Nobel laureates, including American economist Milton Friedman.

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Stilfehler // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Colgate University

- Tuition: $57,695
- Location: Hamilton, NY
- Students: 2,854 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 28% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1310-1500)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $63,600

Colgate University, which has an endowment of $934 million, attracts students interested in majoring in economics, history, and political science and government. Students pay an average of $22,182 per year, with 20% of students borrowing an average of $5,654 annually. Just under half (49%) of students receive some sort of financial aid.

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Chadarat Saibhut // Shutterstock

#2. Duke University

- Tuition: $58,198
- Location: Durham, NC
- Students: 6,669 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1)
- Acceptance rate: 10% (ACT: 31-35; SAT: 1380-1540)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $84,400

A significant endowment of $8.5 billion helps cut costs for Duke University students in a big way: The average cost for a year at the school is $22,011. Duke reported that, as of June 30, 2018, the endowment was made up of over 5,200 individual funds. Popular majors at Duke are computer science, economics, and public policy analysis—unsurprising as it graduated 37th U.S. President Richard Nixon, philanthropist Melinda Gates, and CEO of Apple Tim Cook.

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Imagine // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Harvey Mudd College

- Tuition: $58,359
- Location: Claremont, CA
- Students: 844 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1470-1570)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 96%; six-year median earnings: $88,800

Endowment: 303.3 million
 

Harvey Mudd College's endowment of $303.3 million leaves students paying a hefty average price of $38,135 each year, with 75% of students receiving some sort of financial aid. Less than half of students take out loans, with the average loan amount each year being $7,236. However, Niche reports that the median earnings for students just two years after graduating from Harvey Mudd is $72,500. The most popular majors here include computer science, engineering, and physics—it is the alma mater of computer programmer Jonathan Gay, the visionary behind website animation editor Flash.

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