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I Paid a Quarter-Million, and All I Got Was This Lousy English Degree

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Imagine paying nearly quarter of a million dollars for an English degree. Talk about sticker shock! But if you’re unlucky enough to be a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College, America’s most expensive school, that’s how much you could owe by the time you graduate.

According to the latest listing of the nation’s costliest colleges, published by Forbes magazine and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Sarah Lawrence isn’t the only school where tuition and fees are reaching such stratospheric levels. The top 10 most expensive schools are all clustered within a few thousand dollars of each other.

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All of them cost over $56,000 a year in tuition and living expenses in the 2010-11 school year, the last year for which data is available. They cost even more this year, and the costs are projected to continue rising.

The only relief in sight: The colleges rarely charge the full amount, since most students qualify for some kind of financial aid.

“Keep in mind that this is ‘sticker price,’ since virtually all colleges and universities give financial aid,” says Matt Denhart, the center’s administrative director.

Living costs and other fees also play an important factor. The New School charges “only” $37,610 for tuition, the lowest among the top 10. But because the school located in Manhattan, among the most expensive places to live in the country, and because its art-focused curriculum requires students to buy lots of expensive books and supplies, the school charges the most for room, board, books and other costs, placing the New School at number 5 on the list.

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Here’s the full list (click to enlarge):

Adding it all together, the top 10 most expensive schools are tightly clustered, with just $1,983 separating Sarah Lawrence from the tenth most-expensive school, Wesleyan University in Connecticut. All the schools are located on the East Coast with the exception of #2, University of Chicago, where total costs added up to $57,590 last year.

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Image: mtsofan, via Flickr.com

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