The 20 best private colleges and universities, ranked by tuition

Without financial aid, scholarships or wealthy benefactors like great expectations‘s Magwitch to foot the bill, a four-year degree from a prestigious private institution could cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But in the list of best colleges and universities, the prices vary a bit. To identify these monetary differences, digital marketing agency Higher Visibility first took Niche’s latest list of the top 20 private colleges and universities in the United States, then used data from CollegeCalc to rank them based on their annual tuition fees.

Columbia University won the blue ribbon (if you can call it that) with an annual bill of $58,920. It was one of two New York schools to make the list – the other, Cornell University in Ithaca, came in 5th place with $56,550. Although California is perhaps best known in higher education for its large and expansive public university systems, the state is large enough to host a good number of reputable private schools as well. There are four on this list, including the University of Southern California, Pomona College, Stanford University, and the California Institute of Technology.

The price ranking does not necessarily correspond to the overall Niche ranking. Harvard University, the second in Niche, is the least expensive of the 20 schools, with annual tuition of $47,730.

If the numbers below put a damper on your dreams of becoming an Ivy Leaguer, know that Ivy League schools offer need-based financial aid. Or, you can just take advantage of all the free online courses they offer instead.

  1. Columbia University (New York) // $58,920
  2. University of Chicago (Illinois) // $57,642
  3. University of Southern California (California) // $57,256
  4. Brown University (Rhode Island) // $57,112
  5. Cornell University (New York) // $56,550
  6. Northwestern University (Illinois) // $56,232
  7. Duke University (North Carolina) // $55,880
  8. Dartmouth College (New Hampshire) // $55,605
  9. Yale University (Connecticut) // $55,500
  10. University of Notre Dame (Indiana) // $55,046
  11. Pomona College (California) // $54,380
  12. Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri // $54,250
  13. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts) // $53,450
  14. Stanford University (California) // $52,857
  15. California Institute of Technology (California) // $52,506
  16. Princeton University (New Jersey) // $51,870
  17. University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) // $51,156
  18. Vanderbilt University (Tennessee) // $50,800
  19. Rice University (Texas) // $48,330
  20. Harvard University (Massachusetts) // $47,730