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Articles / Paying for College / America's Most Expensive Dorms

May 20, 2020

America's Most Expensive Dorms

Ever done the math? I haven't. It might make for some fun (or painful) conversation (and decision making). I have always wanted to do a survey of college dorm costs. My plan (which I have yet to execute) would involve surveying a list of colleges, maybe the so-called "Top 25" (or 50) and finding out how many days students can actually reside in their dorm rooms during a standard school year. Yeah, I know that some dorms cost more to live in than others, but I'm just talking ballpark here.

Once I would have my list of school-year days and dorm fees, I would divide the number of days into the dorm fees and find out what the daily room tariff is at that college. Keep in mind that the traditional college dorm houses two students, each of whom are paying a full dose of dorm fees. What makes this even more amazing is that some "suites," where there are two bedrooms flanking a common "living room," have four residents. That's four times the stated dorm fee. Fairly lucrative for the college coffers.

Okay, I just had a flash of motivation and Googled "number of days in college year" and got 160. Let's see how that plays out.

The topic of this post is "America's Most Expensive Dorms." Let's take a quick look at the most expensive one: Eugene Lang College (The New School) in New York City. According to the article I will cite below, "Most freshmen are placed in the Stuyvesant Park Dorm or the 13th Street Residence where the room alone runs $13,590 (double)." Okay. Well, dividing 160 days into $13,590 gives us about $85 per night. Granted, it's unlikely that you could get a non-bedbug-infested hotel room in New York for 85 bucks a night. (Maybe those dorm rooms aren't bedbug free, either. :-))

However, don't forget your meal plan, books, associated fees, transportation, beer money, etc., etc. What's a parent to do? Well, be that as it may, I think it's interesting to ponder why college is so expensive. I have a hint for you: IT'S A BUSINESS! Yeah, forget those noble ideals about "higher education." It's more like "Bigger Bottom Lines." No, I'm not cynical, just objective. The facts speak for themselves (let's not get into the grim facts here).

So, with all that blather out of the way, and with no further ado, here are CampusGrotto.com's Most Expensive College Dorms for 2010-2011:

Room and board prices increased 4.6% at public and 3.9% at private colleges in 2010-2011. With average costs of $8,535 and $9,700 (respectively) it's clear that room and board is a big part of college costs.

This is a cost that is often overlooked, with tuition prices getting much of the attention. The example we like to use is with New York University, who has the 42nd highest tuition, but when factoring in room and board they become the 2nd most expensive college.

Most of the dorms on this list are found in the urban areas of New York, Boston, and along the California coast. Only 4 of the top 20 are located outside the states of California and New York.

These are prices a typical freshman will pay for room and board for the 2010-2011 school year. Prices are for a standard double room.

1. Eugene Lang College (The New School) - New York, NY

The Lang campus, located near Union Square and Washington Square Park, is contained in many buildings that are considered historical landmarks because of their innovative architecture. Most freshmen are placed in the Stuyvesant Park Dorm or the 13th Street Residence where the room alone runs $13,590 (double). Stuyvesant Park, the newest and largest residence, is equipped with an abundance of large rooms and common spaces, including a main lounge, study room, gym, art room, and music practice space.

Lang Dorm

2. University of California - Berkeley - Berkeley, CA

The Unit 1 complex (pictured below) consists of six halls built around a large courtyard and a central building that contains the unit office, mail services, and rooms for meetings, events, and parties, and the Academic Services Center. Located 1 block from campus, the complex houses the most students at the college (1426 students).

UC Berkeley Dorms

3. Suffolk University - Boston, MA

Dorms at Suffolk University have the convenience of being just blocks from main academic buildings, and include sweeping views of Boston. Each dorm houses a dining hall, computer lab, and recreation room, and each room is wired for satellite television, telephone, and Internet.

Suffolk Dorm

4. Fordham University - Lincoln Center - New York, NY

Located in the heart of Manhattan's culturally rich Upper West Side neighborhood, McMahon Hall is home to over 740 Undergraduate and 140 Law students. The residence hall adjoins the world-renowned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and is just minutes from Central Park.

Fordham Lincoln Dorm

5. Fordham University - Rose Hill - New York, NY

Rose Hill, the main Fordham campus, adjacent to Little Italy, the Bronx Zoo, and the New York Botanical Garden, is situated on 85 acres in the north Bronx. A total of 6,678 undergraduates and graduates attend, with 3,143 living in University housing.

Fordham Rosehill Dorm

6. University of California - Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

At Santa Cruz there are a variety of housing themes and options for those who are interested. You can be placed into a residence of your choosing and paired with others with similar interests based on academic pursuits, hobbies, individual backgrounds, and lifestyle preferences. Some of these housing themes include Outdoor Recreation, Spirituality & Faith, Sustainable Living, Gaming, Night Owl, and a Coed Writers Hall. If you think the dorms are too expensive you could always live in the school's RV Park.

UC Santa Cruz Dorm

7. St. John's University - New York, NY

According to the website, “At St. John's University's Queens campus, you can enjoy living in some of the newest and most modern student residence halls on the East Coast." Each residence hall provides free or discounted tickets to major NYC events, such as Yankee games, museums and Broadway shows. The university does not allow first and second year residential students to bring cars on campus.

St. John's Dorms

8. Manhattanville College - Purchase, NY

Spellman Hall (pictured below) is the freshman residence hall on Manhattanville's campus. The building is co-ed by room, meaning that female students might live next door to male students, and there are separate shower and bathroom facilities for males & females located on each floor.

Manhattanville College Dorm

9. Sarah Lawrence College - Yonkers, NY

At Sarah Lawrence 90% of undergraduate students live on campus in co-ed or single-sex residence halls, small apartments or town houses. The campus has three theme houses: Schmidt House is an Arts co-operative, Brebner is a Multicultural House and Perkins is the Good Life co-op.

Sarah Lawrence Dorm

10. Pace University - New York, NY

Approximately 1,800 students at Pace University in New York City live on campus. Most first-year students are placed in Maria's Tower or 55 John Street. Maria's Tower (pictured below) comprises floors five through seventeen and is just a short elevator ride away from classes, the library, and cafeterias. Dorms are equipped with complimentary Cable-TV, telephone, laundry, and High-Speed Internet access.

Pace University Dorm

The Top 20

1. Eugene Lang College$17,110
2. University of California - Berkeley$15,308
3. Suffolk University$14,624
4. Fordham University - Lincoln Center$14,614
5. Fordham University - Rose Hill$14,491
6. University of California - Santa Cruz$14,172
7. St. John's University (Queens)$14,000
8. Manhattanville College$13,920
9. Sarah Lawrence College$13,820
10. Pace University$13,800
11. UCLA$13,734
12. Cooper Union$13,700
13. Chapman University$13,510
14. New York University$13,507
15. Olin College$13,500
16. American University$13,430
17. Marymount Manhattan College$13,416
18. Harvey Mudd College$13,198
19. Drexel University$13,125
20. University of California - Santa Barbara$13,109


Curiously, or perhaps inevitably, the single most often cited pet peeve about college life, posted in this College Confidential discussion forum thread, is noisy dorms. One would think that paying the fees shown above would ensure at least a modicum of peace and quiet. Apparently not.

What has your experience been with dorm costs and pet peeves? By the way, I hope you appreciate the fact that I have not given you my "back in the day" speech here about my college dorm daze, so to speak. No thanks necessary. Just send money.


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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