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Articles / Campus Life / Outrageous College Dorm Costs

May 20, 2020

Outrageous College Dorm Costs

Some parents keep their eye on only college tuition costs when considering which schools might be affordable for their sons or daughters. The smart ones, though, look at what's known as the "student budget." The student budget includes not only annual tuition but also room and board, various fees, and estimates on miscellaneous expenses and even travel. Talk about running up the numbers!

Our friends at CampusGrotto.com have put together a list of the most expensive college dorms. At least my mind boggles when I see what it costs to live in some of these dorms for less than nine months, especially when I think of having to share living quarters with at least one other person, in most cases. Let's do some math:


A full college year (two semesters), on average, is about 160 class days. Take the most expensive dorm on Campus Grotto's list, at Eugene Lang College, which charges $15,460 room and board (2008-2009 cost) for a school year, and divide that amount by 160 class days. You'll get $96.63 per school day, if my math is right.

Granted, that number includes food, which may or may not be for three meals a day. However, how many college kids do you know who actually get up early enough seven days a week to eat breakfast, let alone lunch? Many, if not the majority, of college kids despise campus food, so they spend laundry money and other cash on eating out. Parents can just see their hard-earned dollars flying out those dorm windows.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun, if not painful, to take a look at the most costly room and board plans in America. Campus Grotto has even been kind enough to supply some picture of the top-of-the-line digs.

Most Expensive College Dorms

The price of room and board at college continues to increase just as much as the rate of tuition. The average room and board expense for the 2008-2009 school year at public colleges is $7,748 and $8,989 at private colleges, an average cost that has gone up about 5% since last year. Looking at the rankings, many of the most expensive dorms are where you would expect them to be; in the heavily populated areas of California, New York and Washington DC.

Room and board is a huge expense. Take NYU for example, which ranks in with the 42nd highest tuition, but with room and board added in it gives NYU a total cost of over $50,000, placing it as the 3rd most expensive school in the nation. Take Sarah Lawrence College as another example; tuition at Sarah Lawrence is $39,450 making it the 8th highest tuition wise, but add in the whopping $13,716 for room and board and it easily becomes the most expensive college in the country.

These rankings are figured by taking the estimated cost of room and board for the school year. Prices are for a standard double room.

  1. Eugene Lang CollegeRoom and Board: $15,460Eugene Lang
  2. Cooper UnionRoom and Board: $14,000Cooper UnionPhoto Credit
  3. Suffolk UniversityRoom and Board: $13,970Suffolk University
  4. Sarah Lawrence CollegeRoom and Board: $13,716Sarah Lawrence CollegePhoto Credit
  5. University of California - BerkeleyRoom and Board: $13,170Berkeley
  6. Manhattanville CollegeRoom and Board: $13,040Manhattanville College
  7. University of California - Santa CruzRoom and Board: $13,038UC - Santa Cruz
  8. UCLARoom and Board: $12,891UCLAPhoto Credit
  9. NYURoom and Board: $12,810NYUPhoto Credit
  10. Marymount Manhattan CollegeRoom and Board: $12,660Marymount Manhattan College

The Top 15

CollegeRoom and Board
1. Eugene Lang College$15,460
2. Cooper Union$14,000
3. Suffolk University$13,970
4. Sarah Lawrence College$13,716
5. University of California - Berkeley$13,170
6. Manhattanville College$13,040
7. UC - Santa Cruz$13,038
8. UCLA$12,891
9. NYU$12,810
10. Marymount Manhattan College$12,660
11. American University$12,418
12. Olin College of Engineering$12,400
13. Georgetown University$12,153
14. Drexel University$12,135
15. Smith College$12,050

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Don't forget 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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