Forbes ranks Wash. U. 4th most expensive college in America

| Contributing Reporter

Mary Yang | Student Life
Citing its annual price tag of $56,930, Forbes.com ranked Washington University fourth in its 2011 list of America’s Most Expensive Colleges, released earlier this week.

According to Edward Macias, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, the cost is necessary to maintain the institution’s quality.

“The main thing is we need to provide a really first-rate education and experience for undergraduates,” Macias said. “[That costs] money, and that leads to our tuition cost.”

The Forbes ranking is based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics, including tuition, room and board, books, transportation and mandatory computer costs.

Macias noted that while the University may be ranked fourth, all of the schools in Forbes’ top 10 were similar in cost. Their prices were all within a $2,000 range.

“We just keep trying to offer the best education we can and hope that people want to be here,” he said. “Sometimes we’re thought to be a best buy.”

Students were generally ambivalent about their school being counted as the fourth most expensive in the nation.

“It’s just something that comes with a top-tier education,” sophomore Claire Guo said. “It’s kind of expected.”

Others noted that the elevated cost allows the school to continue offering a wide array of resources.

“I agree that it’s pretty expensive, …[but] you get access to a lot of the great things that a top-ranked research university offers, [and] you get to take advantage of it because it’s not a huge state school,” junior Noah Hart said.

Some, however, said the University should still be able to make cuts without compromising its offerings.

“[The price] explains some of the cool amenities we get…[but] there might be some unnecessary expenses that cutting wouldn’t impact the overall experience for the student,” sophomore Katie Bush said.

Beyond the flat rate of tuition, though, variable expenses such as meal plans, books, housing and other charges can influence the total cost of attendance, Macias said.

According to Macias, these factors account for the amount calculated by Forbes being more than $2,000 greater than the $54,600 figure cited on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.

He said that both are reasonable estimates.

“This is actually fairly complicated, making a list like this,” Macias said. “There are all kinds of different rankings and ratings; each one has its own special way of looking at things. They often don’t agree with each other.”

Sarah Lawrence College tops Forbes’ list with a total annual cost of $58,334. Also in the top five are the University of Chicago, Parsons The New School for Design and Columbia University.

  • WUAlum06

    If the school has so much money, I just have one thing to say: GET A NEW GYM!!!!!

  • matt

    Too bad we’re not maintaing a high level of education – we keep on sliding down that list as the price increases. Infact, the Forbes ranking of colleges did not even rank WashU in the Top 100 Undergraduate schools. On the US News & World Report rankings, WashU has slide of 12 to 14 over the past 4 years – the same years that tuition has increased. Coincidence? I guess we’ll have to wait for SU’s Tuition Forum to grill administrators.