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Bates Charging $51,300 Leads Expensive U.S. Colleges List

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Maine’s Bates College is the most expensive private, nonprofit college in the U.S., with its $51,300 price tag in 2009-2010 leading a new government list designed to hold schools accountable for costs.

The price for Bates, in Lewiston, Maine, included tuition, fees and room plus board. That was followed by Connecticut College in New London, which cost $51,115 for the same expenses and Vermont’s Middlebury College, which charged $50,780, according to the list of college prices released today on a U.S. Department of Education website. The average tuition without room and board for private nonprofit colleges in 2009-10 was $21,324.

The department is publicizing colleges with the highest and lowest costs, as well as the fastest rising tuition, as part of 2008’s U.S. Higher Education Opportunity Act. Universities are required to report their tuition and their average “net price,” which includes the amount they give in financial aid, said David Bergeron, a deputy assistant secretary.

“For traditional families with students graduating high school, that information is going to be very helpful,” Bergeron said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.

Bates doesn’t break out its costs in separate components for tuition, meals and housing, said Roland Adams, a spokesman. The college offers financial aid to about 40 percent of its students and their average cost to attend is $20,897, placing the school 462 on the list of schools with the highest “net price,” Adams said in a phone interview.

‘Very, Very Expensive’

“It’s very, very expensive to offer a liberal arts education of the extremely high quality that Bates offers,” Adams said. “Bates has worked very hard at keeping its costs and growth in those costs as low as possible.”

Counting tuition alone, Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, topped the government list of private nonprofit universities, charging $41,968 in 2009-2010.

Columbia University in New York was listed as the most expensive institution in the Ivy League, a group of eight private colleges in the Northeast. It charged $41,316 for tuition, not including room and board, in 2009-10, making it ninth-highest on the list of private nonprofit universities.

For 2010-2011, Columbia’s total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, books room and board was $59,208, according to the university website.

Public Universities

The most expensive four-year public university was the main campus of Pennsylvania State University, in State College, which charged state residents $14,416 in tuition. It was followed by the University of Pittsburgh, which charged $14,154, and the University of Vermont in Burlington, which charged $13,554.

The average public university tuition was $6,397.

The most costly for-profit, four-year college on the list was Sanford-Brown College, which provides training in health care and business and is owned by Career Education Corp, based in Schaumburg, Illinois. Sanford-Brown charged $45,628 in tuition and required fees at its Vienna, Virginia, campus, according to the education department website.

That figure is incorrect, and is the cost of attending Sanford-Brown for four years, said Mark Spencer, a spokesman for Career Education. The college submitted the wrong data and wasn’t able to correct it, he said in an e-mail. Tuition and fees for 2009-2010 was $12,126 he said.

The average cost for for-profit, four-year schools was $15,661 a year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Staley in New York at ostaley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net

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