Ivy League Tuition


Ivy League Tuition with a tuition comparison. These schools are literally the talk of the world. Names like Harvard, Yale, and Columbia dominate the intellectual conversation.

Related post: Ivy League School: What’s The Hype?

But it’s time, to tell the truth about how much these schools really cost. In this article, we’ll take a look at Ivy League Tuition costs as well as state schools’ cost.

In doing so, we’ll examine the quality of education you’ll be receiving to help you make the best choice for your college destination.

So let’s begin!

How Do You Define Ivy League?

Before we go any further, we have an important definition to establish. Namely, what are Ivy League schools?

When most of us hear the words “Ivy League,” we think of really good schools like Harvard or Yale. In fact, Ivy League often feels like a synonym for “good school.”

Did you know, however, that there are six other Ivy League schools and that the history of Ivy Leagues has more to do than with just academic reputation?

Let’s take a look at a bit of history. Over a hundred years ago, eight Northeastern colleges formed an athletic alliance, or conference.

This conference was named the “Ivy League,” and included schools such as Harvard University (Massachusetts), Yale University (Connecticut), Columbia University (New York), Princeton University (New Jersey), Brown University (Rhode Island), University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania), Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), and Cornell University (New York).

Over time, these eight universities began to attract serious academic and athletic funding. In the process, the schools were forced to tighten admissions requirements.

Ivy League schools soon gained a reputation for being academically challenging, with leading professors and an insane level of work.

For the last sixty years, the above Ivy League schools have consistently dominated the list of best American universities.

While other universities such as MIT have also risen to prominence, there’s no denying the prestige an Ivy League degree carries.

Ivy League graduates have a leg up on their peers in the market place and benefit from a variety of educational and social advantages.

What does this mean?

Simply put, it means that while all Ivy Leagues are good schools, not all good schools are Ivy League.

There is a large misconception that you cannot go to a top school if you don’t go to an Ivy League. Schools like Stanford and Caltech prove this idea wrong.

In light of this, it’s worth comparing Ivy League Tuition rates to see just what you’re getting in Ivy League and state school education.

Comparing Tuition Prices

How are expensive is the ivy league tuition? More importantly, how do they stack up in terms of cost when compared to public or state school options?

Let’s take a look. For the eight Ivy League schools, average tuition costs are $51,486 per year.

Among the most expensive are Cornell University, which charges an average tuition of $52,612 per year, and Dartmouth College, which requires students to fork over $51,468 every year in tuition.

This place Ivy League universities well over the average cost of tuition for both public state universities and even private, nonprofit universities.

In general, the average cost of tuition at your typical four-year state university is only $9,970 per year (or $25,620 per year for out-of-state students).

This is substantially lower than Ivy League tuition rates. Compared to other private, nonprofit universities, Ivy League schools remain on average nearly $20,000 per semester more expensive, with the average cost of private nonprofit tuition in the United States being only $33,450.

From this information alone, it certainly seems that an Ivy League education is an impossibility for most students.

In fact, it almost appears as if those with economic disadvantages have no place in many of America’s top universities.

But we’ll show you why that’s only half the story. Namely, we’ll provide data that shows that tuition prices are actually much trickier than you think.

If you are disheartened about the prospect of going to a public, four-year school, your chances at an Ivy League education are not yet over.

Sticker Price vs Net Price

When you go to a car lot, every car comes with its own sticker. This sticker reveals the price that the dealership wishes to sell the car for.

Often, however, we manage to haggle down the price of the vehicle, often substantially so.

In the end, the price that we pay for the car differs significantly from the price that was stuck to the car’s windshield when we pulled up in the dealership.

You may be surprised to learn that this is also the case at Ivy League schools. In other words, the “sticker” price of tuition that you often see does not paint the full picture of how much it actually costs to get an Ivy League education.

In fact, private colleges, and Ivy Leagues, in general, offer a variety of scholarship and grant opportunities for at-need students.

By some estimates, tuition discounts for private institutions in the United States can be as high as 49%.

This means that the new “net” prices students are paying for their education can be nearly 50% lower than sticker tuition prices.

This completely changes the playing field when it comes to the affordability of Ivy League schools.

Taking the same example we analyzed earlier, we learn that the average net price for Cornell University, which has an average tuition price of $52,612, is only $30,014.

What’s more, for students coming from households that average between $49,000-$75,000 per year, the average cost of tuition is further lowered to $15,456.

What does this mean for you?

Simply put, it means that the cost of an Ivy League education may be within your price range, particularly if you are economically disadvantaged.

With several academic scholarships and grants available, Ivy League schools are not the expensive monsters that people make them out to be.

Still, this doesn’t mean that Ivy League education is suddenly just as cheap as a standard state college education. Let’s go back to our car salesman example.

Say you are able to haggle a Lamborghini down to nearly the sticker price of a Corvette.

This seems like a great deal (and it probably is), but you must keep in mind that you’d save even more money by haggling the price of the Corvette down.

In the same way, tuition costs for state colleges can also be lowered.

Though the average sticker price for public four-year institutions in the United States is $9,970, the average price students at these institutions pay is just $3,980 per year.

This means that economically-disadvantaged students are still looking at around a $15,000-$20,000 a year gap when it comes to state colleges versus Ivy League schools.

In many cases, this gap is too large for the economically underprivileged to overcome.

For this reason, it’s important to understand why Ivy League schools are more expensive than state colleges.

Why Are Ivy Leagues More Expensive?

You may be looking at the large tuition disparities and asking yourself, “Why are Ivy Leagues so much more expensive?” There are actually a number of reasons.


The first and most obvious reason for the price disparity between Ivy League and state colleges is the fact that all Ivy Leagues are private.

Because private schools don’t receive state funding or subsidies, these universities rely on tuition and donations to make most of their income.

This means that Ivy League schools will be by default more expensive, even disregarding their academic tradition and quality education.

Better Resources

This brings us to our second point. Ivy League universities are some of the oldest and most revered in the United States. This means that they generally provide students with access to more diverse resources.

Students at Harvard, for example, will enjoy access to much larger libraries and informational tools than will students who are attending school in Alabama or Ohio.

In fact, the difference between resources offered is often cited as one of the biggest differences between traditional and Ivy League schools.

These resources cost money, however, so students should naturally be expected to pay more for them.

Great Professors

Though most state universities have outstanding faculty, it’s well-known that some of the brightest intellectual minds teach at Ivy League colleges.

This stems in large part from the academic reputation of these schools and the fact that Ivy Leagues generally offer greater research budgets and more tools for in-depth and comprehensive research.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that your state college professors know nothing.

Not everyone can or wants to teach at an Ivy League institution. State and public colleges are home to some of the world’s leading academic experts, many of whom are Ivy League graduates themselves.

Is Education from an Ivy League Better?

Knowing this, is education from an Ivy League better?

Or, in other words, is it worth paying the extra thousands of dollars per semester in tuition to attend an Ivy League school?

In order to answer this question, we must look at a multitude of factors.

First, it could be said that the academic reputation of Ivy League schools often outshines the actual academic benefits of attending an Ivy League school.

Often, Ivy League graduates have a certain shine and their resumes are taken more seriously simply because they are associated with a prestigious school.

And while it’s true that the education offered by Ivy Leagues has few rivals anywhere in the world (in large part due to the number of resources these schools offer and the selective nature of Ivy League schools).

It’s also true that you can receive a world-class education from public or state colleges.

In fact, recent decades have seen the rise of “public Ivies.” These are public institutions that offer exemplary education at a fraction of the price of private Ivy League schools.

Among these schools are household names such as the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and the University of Michigan.

This means that you shouldn’t freak out if you aren’t accepted into an Ivy League school. Ivy Leagues are notoriously selective, and oftentimes, your inability to get into an Ivy League has to do with factors outside of your control.

For a fraction of the cost, you can still receive a stellar education at public universities across America.

In fact, many American public institutions offer an education that would be leading the pack in other places in the world.

Is Ivy League Right for You?

With all this in mind, you may be asking yourself if an Ivy League education is for you.

If you have the resources, the scores, and the GPA, there’s no harm in applying for an Ivy League school.

Though many of these institutions have acceptance rates at or below 10%, there’s no harm done in applying first for these schools before putting in your application for public universities.

If you fail to get into an Ivy League, don’t worry. Chances are, you’ll make it into another top university, assuming that your scores are good.

What’s more, you’ll be enjoying this education at a fraction of the cost of tuition that you would be expected to pay at an Ivy League school.

It’s a win-win situation, really.

The Bottom Line

In this piece, we looked at Ivy League versus state college tuition figures to help you better understand the difference between these institutions.

In general, Ivy League schools offer higher tuition rates, even when accounting for scholarship and grant opportunities.

This means that state and public colleges are the main sources of higher education in America.

While it may be disappointing not going to an Ivy League school (especially if your ambitions are high), keep in mind that you can receive a killer education at a top public university.

What’s more exciting is that you can get that education cheaper than what you would at an Ivy League.

If you’re applying to colleges, using the information contained in this post could help you make the right college decision!

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