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New college ranking shows sticker prices at more than $70,000 a year — and rising

The reality of college tuition debt was on display at the Northeastern University graduation at TD Garden in May 2019. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File/Globe staff

Last year, the Globe published a story noting that some local private universities cost upwards of $70,000 per year.

Unfortunately, it looks like that’s a trend that’s not only here to stay, but is apt to rise even higher.

A new list released by US News & World Report on Monday put the sticker price of many private schools in 2018 at $70,000 or above, when taking tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses into account.

The list — titled “best value schools” — is part of an overarching college ranking package released by US News. The “best value” list compares the sticker price to the costs students actually pay after grants, and is based on the ratio of the school’s quality to price, how much need-based aid the school gives, and the average discount given to students.


The list showed that while many schools’ sticker prices cross the $70,000 threshold, some are inching closer to the $80,000 mark. For example, the University of Chicago’s total 2018 costs were listed as $77,331, while Columbia University in New York City was pegged at $76,856.

Massachusetts was no exception. Here’s a breakdown of some of the highest-ranked local schools’ sticker prices, according to the list:

- Harvard: $71,650

- MIT: $70,790

- Tufts: $73,700

- Brandeis: $73,335

- Boston College: $73,092

- Boston University: $72,618

- Northeastern: $70,592

Liberal arts colleges proved no cheaper. In Massachusetts, several cost more than $70,000 before discounts, according to the list:

- Williams College: $73,200

- Amherst College: $73,966

- Smith College: $72,701

- Wellesley College: $74,250

Meanwhile, Harvey Mudd College in California had one of the most expensive sticker prices of the liberal arts schools, coming in at $77,203.

Of course, it’s worth noting that the US News list shows many students don’t end up paying these sky-high prices, once financial aid packages are taken into account. Here’s a look at where Massachusetts universities ranked on the “best value” list, and how much the average cost per student was after grants in 2018:


2. Harvard: $15,972

4. MIT: $20,234

28. Tufts: $27,813

33. Brandeis: $30,606

34: Boston College: $30,811

35: Simmons: $30,350 (sticker cost: $59,830)

42: Clark University: $30,188 (sticker cost: $56,650)

48. Boston University: $34,417

70. Worcester Polytechnic Institute: $42,197 (sticker cost: $67,504)

98. Northeastern: $43,135

Here’s a look at where Massachusetts liberal arts colleges ranked on the “best value” list, and how much the average cost per student was after grants in 2018:

1. Williams College: $17,579

3. Amherst College: $19,251

5. Smith College: $19,777

8. Wellesley College: $23,498

57. Mount Holyoke College: $31,283 (sticker cost: $66,558)

68. Wheaton College: $29,250 (sticker cost: $68,050)

80. College of the Holy Cross: $31,653 (sticker cost: $69,190)

On the US News website, the publication also lists the median starting salary for alumni with three years of post-graduation work experience and whose highest degree is a bachelor’s.

Here’s a look at those numbers for some of the top-ranked Massachusetts universities:

- Harvard: $69,000

- MIT: $82,300

- Tufts: $61,200

- Brandeis: $55,500

- Boston College: $59,900

- Simmons: $50,900

- Clark: $47,100

- Boston University: $57,500

- Worcester Polytechnic Institute: $71,000

- Northeastern: $62,300

- UMass Amherst: $55,700

Here’s a look at the median starting salaries for some of the top-ranked Massachusetts liberal arts colleges:


- Williams: $58,900

- Amherst: $58,700

- Smith: $47,000

- Wellesley: $53,800

- Mount Holyoke: $47,500

- Wheaton: $50,200

- College of the Holy Cross: $55,300