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Jun 30

Written by: kmurphy
Thursday, June 30, 2011 

On Thursday, the Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 20% at the University of Washington, bringing the cost to $10,574 for undergraduate students. It is the largest tuition increase in the history of the school and has many people worried. However, putting the tuition into perspective on a national scale, the UW is still a bargain.

The U.S. Department of Education also released its College Affordability and Transparency report on Thursday, which lists colleges that are most expensive to least expensive, both in the public and private categories. The highest tuition at a public university in the nation is Penn State University at $14,416 (this number does not include room/board and fees). Rounding out the top five are University of Pittsburgh ($14,154), University of Vermont ($13,554), Saint Mary's College of Maryland ($13,234) and New Jersey Institute of Technology ($12,856). UW does not even make the list of our nation's most expensive public universities.

The Affordability list also ranks colleges with the highest increases in tuition, with Northern New Mexico College leading the pack with a 51% tuition hike. Once again, UW does not make the list.

It is good to consider this too – if you were to attend some of the nation's most expensive private colleges, you could be paying upwards of $50,000 (tuition and room/board which is not included in the above amounts for the public universities). Many private colleges award fantastic merit and need-based scholarships, so don't rule them out, but the cost is something to keep in perspective when reading about UW's tuition hike. The top five most expensive privates are Bates College in Maine ($51,300), Connecticut College ($51,115), Middlebury College in VT ($50,780), Union College in NY ($50,439) and Colby College in Maine ($50,320).

Where are the other bargains? For private colleges, you can look to Puerto Rico for the best bargains, starting as low as $4,000. Berea College, Embry Riddle University and Brigham Young University all fall under $10,000 for tuition. For 4 year public universities, in-state tuition is a bargain at the various branches of the University of Puerto Rico, as well as local options Seattle Community College, Bellevue College and Lake Washington Technical College.

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