AC Online List: Most Affordable Small Private Colleges

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According to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), there are 1,600 private non-profit colleges in the country, serving some 3.4 million students. Small private colleges and universities in the United States offer a commitment to high quality education as well as close personal faculty-student interaction. As a result, they often attract some of the brightest students, which can make admission highly competitive. These colleges often come with some of the highest price tags on tuition, too. Students, however, shouldn't be quick to dismiss their chances of attending these schools. Financial support from small private schools can slash printed tuition costs by as much as half, according to the NAICU. Full-time students at private four-year schools receive on average $17,630 in grant assistance toward their college costs. As much as 20 percent of the students at one small private college in the Pacific Northwest received academic or need-based grants to cover their tuition in 2013.

Even among the relatively low number of small private colleges in the country, there can be great diversity between degree programs. Some are known for their academic specialties, their historical place in American education, or for their faculties. Among them, these are some of the most-attractive assets: Academic Standards

One of the reasons small private colleges enjoy prestige is because they consistently establish high academic standards for the faculty and student body. Admission is highly competitive. The college may be celebrated for specific academic disciplines or for offering a well-rounded liberal arts education based on small class sizes, led by distinguished educators.

Most small private schools establish and maintain their own requirements for undergraduate degrees, promoting the utmost flexibility for students who want to frame their education around a customized core curriculum. Professors also enjoy the academic freedom to create contemporary and evolving courses to accommodate students’ interests and passions.

Most private schools do not have graduate programs, so professors do their own undergraduate teaching. In large public institutions, students can find themselves in large lecture halls for classes that are led by student or graduate assistants. Private college professors include world-renowned lecturers devoted to teaching, rather than overworked faculty who juggle teaching with the research and publishing requirements that are typical of many large public colleges.

According to U.S. News and World Report, public and private universities can often have a student body that consists of more than 30,000 students, while small private college enrollment averages 1,900 scholars. The student-faculty ratio at small private colleges averages around 10:1 and may be as low as five students per professor. As a result, students are able to build a more personal relationship with faculty and are mentored by professors that have more time for them than professors would at larger universities.

Because of small class sizes and small-school collegiality, students forge deep friendships based on common goals and philosophies. School academic societies, clubs, and campus activities have an easy intimacy about them since students aren’t numbers sitting in 300-person lecture halls; they’re known to each other and to their professors, which encourages a sense of community.

Recent education statistics debunk a lot of myths around the affordability of small private colleges. Small schools have a reputation of offering a high percentage of need-based grants. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities reports a $12,460 average total (tuition and fees) cost to attend a private four-year college in 2013-2014, which is less than half the $30,090 published tuition at those schools. Students graduating high school with a high grade point average may find that some small private colleges are keen on helping them pay for their higher education. Small college financial aid officers can help students find grants, scholarships and loans to can help slash tuition costs.

AC Online has compiled a list of affordable small private schools for you to consider. From New York to California, there are plenty of options across the country for students seeking smaller classroom sizes with a modest price tag. All the schools below are accredited, have tuition and fees totaling less than $15,000, and enroll less than 4,000 students.

Rank University More Detail Tuition and fees: Enrollment: Website: Description
1 Amberton University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,050 Enrollment: 687 Website:

Amberton University is located in Garland, Texas, and is relatively close to major metropolitan areas throughout the state of Texas. This private university offers incredibly high standards of learning to its students, and Amberton University continues to attract a student population from throughout the country for its varied educational offerings.

2 Amridge University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,920 Enrollment: 750 Website:

Amridge University was originally founded under the name The Alabama Christian School of Religion. This school was established by the Churches of Christ, a non-denominational group of Christian believers. The school, located in Montgomery, continues to offer theological degrees as well as ministry training for students.

3 Arkansas Baptist College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $6,960 Enrollment: 2544 Website:

Arkansas Baptist College is a relatively small private institution located in the capital city of Arkansas, Little Rock. This college is “historically black,” which means that the original student population was made up entirely of African-Americans. Today a variety of students at this school study a comprehensive collection of subjects in pursuit of varied degrees.

4 Bacone College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,500 Enrollment: 1965 Website:

Bacone College was originally founded as an educational institution for various Native American tribes and nations within the Midwest region of the United States. Today, Bacone College continues to serve Native American students as well as a wide variety of other cultures and religions. This college offers four-year degree programs in the liberal arts.

5 Baker College of Cadillac MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,560 Enrollment: 3746 Website:

The original Baker College was established in Michigan in the city of Flint in the early 20th century. Today, Baker College of Cadillac is one of thirteen different Baker College satellite campuses. This not-for-profit educational institution has regional accreditation, and it predominantly exists to provide career training to students.

6 Bethune-Cookman University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,990 Enrollment: 5356 Website:

Bethune-Cookman University is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. Its location makes it an attractive historically black college for many students looking for a warmer climate and varied social opportunities. Bethune-Cookman University operates seven different colleges, including business, education, nursing, graduate studies, science and engineering, social sciences, and the arts and humanities.

7 Boricua College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,000 Enrollment: 1942 Website:

Boricua College is located in New York City, but it is distinct from other New York colleges and post-secondary institutions in that it was originally founded to offer educational opportunities to Hispanic immigrants. Today, the college has four different satellite campuses. Over a thousand students attend the school today, with a teaching population of just over 200 instructors.

8 Brewton-Parker College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,600 Enrollment: 1540 Website:

Brewton-Parker College is located in Mount Vernon, Georgia. This historic college was established in 1904, over a hundred years ago, and the school maintains its Georgia Baptist Convention roots by offering a mix of secular and spiritual courses and degree opportunities. While the school was initially separated by gender, the modern institution is coeducational.

9 Brigham Young University-Hawaii MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $4,450 Enrollment: 5472 Website:

Brigham Young University-Hawaii is a satellite campus of the larger Brigham Young University operated out of Salt Lake City, UT. This private college is affiliated with the Mormon church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school was established in the mid-1950s and offers a wide variety of educational subjects.

10 Calumet College of Saint Joseph MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,680 Enrollment: 1773 Website:

Calumet College of St. Joseph is a private Catholic college located in North Indiana. The school has satellite campuses in Illinois and Indiana. While the college has extensive degree options for associate, bachelor, and master-level learning, the school is also noteworthy for its comprehensive lineup of elearning courses through online forums and off-campus software.

11 Carlos Albizu University-Miami MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,304 Enrollment: 558 Website:

Carlos Albizu University is one of the only universities in the nation to have a campus in one of the states and in a United States territory. The Puerto Rico and Miami campuses offer similar educational opportunities. Students can pursue both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the fields of education, business and management, and psychological studies.

12 City College-Fort Lauderdale MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $12,200 Enrollment: 1679 Website:

In 1984, a separate branch of Draughons Junior College was established. Since that time, City College-Fort Lauderdale has been independently accredited and separated from Draughons to form its own separate entity. Students attend City College for either two or four years, earning one of ten associate’s degrees or pursuing one of three separate bachelor degree options.

13 Claflin University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,060 Enrollment: 2871 Website:

Claflin University has the distinction of being the very first historically black college established in South Carolina that is still in operation today. This private university was established and is still affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate-level degrees, and the university also has a popular athletic program.

14 Dillard University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,650 Enrollment: 1864 Website:

Dillard University is located in New Orleans, Louisiana, right next to the historic Gentilly Boulevard. While this historically black college was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, intensive rebuilding efforts have reopened the university. The university received an endowment from Ray Charles, and continues to offer degrees in business, the social sciences, humanities, and in nursing.

15 Doane College-Lincoln Grand Island and Master MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $8,120 Enrollment: 1648 Website:

The Lincoln, Nebraska campus of Doane College is a satellite campus of the larger Doane College located in Crete, Nebraska. This private college has a religious association with the United Church of Christ, which provided the college with an endowment of over $70 million. The original Doane College was established in the latter part of the 19th century.

16 Everglades University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $15,400 Enrollment: 1252 Website:

Boca Raton, Florida, a popular residential town in the state, is the home of Everglades University. This school is less than twenty years old, but it was quickly accredited and has developed a reputation for providing undergraduate and graduate degrees of the highest quality to its student population.

17 Faulkner University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,730 Enrollment: 4926 Website:

Faulkner University is a small, private Christian university in Montgomery, Alabama. This university is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, and students who attend Faulkner are able to pursue degrees in theology, ministry, and church-related education as well as secular degree paths in the sciences, arts, and the humanities

18 Flagler College-St Augustine MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,510 Enrollment: 4468 Website:

Flagler College-St. Augustine is a private institution of post-secondary learning located in St. Augustine, Florida. While the school has just celebrated its fortieth year, it has grown extensively since its inception. In fact, the school was rated one of America’s top colleges by US News & World Report because of its affordable tuition and extensive degree pursuit options.

19 Florida Memorial University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $12,424 Enrollment: 2799 Website:

Florida Memorial University, located in the beautiful and popular Miami Gardens region of Florida, is a member of the United Negro College Fund and a registered historically black post-secondary institution. While Florida Memorial offers many degree options, it is especially noteworthy for graduating the second largest population of African-American teachers in the state.

20 Freed-Hardeman University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,590 Enrollment: 2283 Website:

Freed-Hardeman University is a school in Henderson, Tennessee that is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. There are many educational opportunities for students at this school as well as chances to connect with lifelong friends, pursue musical and theatrical endeavors, participate in sporting activities and social clubs, and pursue a deeper understanding of Christianity.

21 Gallaudet University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,610 Enrollment: 1796 Website:

Thomas Gallaudet is one of the most important individuals with regard to deaf education history, so Gallaudet University, named after him, strives to offer high quality education for deaf individuals. Gallaudet University is the only American post-secondary institution that offers degree programs, transition education, and professional services to just the Deaf Community.

22 Grove City College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,598 Enrollment: 3731 Website:

In Grove City, Pennsylvania, students are able to attend Grove City College, a Christian-affiliated college that offers degree programs in the liberal arts. The college states that its mission is to provide high quality education, affordable tuition rates, and a decidedly Christian environment that will help students develop the concepts of faith and freedom.

23 Humphreys College-Stockton and Modesto Campuses MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,620 Enrollment: 1611 Website:

Humphreys College has two distinct campuses in Stockton and Modesto, California. This school is a Liberal Arts college that is both independent of any religious affiliations and not-for-profit. Humphreys College was the first post-secondary educational institution in the San Joaquin valley, and it now offers two, four, and six year degree paths for students with the highest degree offered being a master’s degree.

24 Husson University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,105 Enrollment: 3968 Website:

Located in Bangor, Maine, Husson University is a private post-secondary educational institution that services approximately 3600 students. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and Husson University operates three distinct campuses throughout the state of Maine, making it the largest, in area, in the entire state.

25 Huston-Tillotson University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,396 Enrollment: 1522 Website:

Austin, Texas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, so it is no surprise that Huston-Tillotson University is expanding rapidly. Located in Austin, this historically black college expanded to a four-year university that offers an enormous variety of educational degrees and pursuits to its students. While affiliated with the UMC and the UCC, this school is advertised as multi-faith and multi-cultural.

26 John F Kennedy University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,400 Enrollment: 507 Website:

John F. Kennedy University’s main campus is located in Pleasant Hill, California, but the school also has two additional campuses in surrounding Californian cities. This university is affiliated with the National University System, though it still maintains its independent status. Students can pursue degrees in law, the humanities, arts and sciences, and other subjects for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.

27 Johnson C Smith University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,730 Enrollment: 2598 Website:

Johnson C Smith University was founded as an African-American institution of learning. The university still maintains its status as an historically black college. Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Johnson C Smith University currently offers a variety of bachelor’s degree options. It is perhaps most well-known, though, for its highly rated and well-respected social work and counselling programs.

28 Jones College-Jacksonville MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,320 Enrollment: 1089 Website:

In the heart of the Sunshine State, Jones College-Jacksonville was founded in the early 1900s as a not-for-profit educational institution. This school is relatively small with a student population of less than 700. This college has several different educational offerings in the liberal arts, medical fields, education, and business.

29 Lane College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,550 Enrollment: 3228 Website:

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, an historically black Christian community, is considered the founding group of Lane College. Located west of Memphis in Jackson, Tennessee, Lane College offers bachelor’s degrees predominantly in the general studies and liberal arts subject areas. This school was formed in the latter-19th century.

30 LeMoyne-Owen College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,460 Enrollment: 1752 Website:

LeMoyne-Owen College is a private college in Memphis, Tennessee. The undergraduate program is carried out through five academic divisions offering majors in 22 areas of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Science or the Bachelor of Business Administration degrees. It is one of the few historically black colleges in the United States that has been in existence for more than 150 years. It was founded during the Civil War by the United Church of Christ to teach freedmen and runaway slaves to read and write.

31 Life University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $8,068 Enrollment: 1710 Website:

Located in the charming town of Marietta, Georgia, Life University is a health sciences institution most known for its chiropractic program, the largest in the world. Life University is regionally accredited by SACS to award four year undergraduate and graduate degrees in health care, sciences, business and general studies fields.

32 Livingstone College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,404 Enrollment: 1902 Website:

Salisbury, North Carolina is the home of Livingstone College, a historically black college founded in the late 1800s. Today, Livingstone College has a large African-American student population, but students of all ethnicities and racial backgrounds attend the institution. The school is accredited to offer bachelor’s degrees in the arts, fine arts, sciences, and also in social work.

33 Louisiana College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,850 Enrollment: 1918 Website:

Pineville, Louisiana is in the center of the state and is the home of Louisiana College. This college has been operating in Louisiana for over a hundred years. The Louisiana Baptist Convention is still affiliated with the school, but students of all cultures and faiths are invited to attend the institution. Liberal arts degrees in music, education, science, history and more are offered.

34 Lourdes University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,616 Enrollment: 3369 Website:

Lourdes University is located in Sylvania, Ohio, and maintains its affiliation with the Catholic Church. While the institution opened as a liberal arts bachelor’s program known as Lourdes Junior College, it has expanded to offer both bachelor’s and graduate degrees in a wide variety of educational pursuits. Because of its religious affiliation, theology is still a popular educational path at Lourdes U.

35 Maranatha Baptist Bible College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,160 Enrollment: 1566 Website:

Maranatha Baptist Bible College was originally founded as a seminary in Watertown, Wisconsin that served to train up and educate future Baptist preachers and ministers. The school today continues to offer theology and ministry degrees; however, students can also choose business, management, education, medical, science, and other liberal arts degrees.

36 Martin Luther College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,320 Enrollment: 1702 Website:

Martin Luther College is owned and operated exclusively by the WELS, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. This college is located in New Ulm, Minnesota. Male students can continue their pastoral education at Wisconsin Lutherna Seminary, and both men and women can also pursue educational degrees and ministry degrees at Martin Luther College.

37 Martin University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,200 Enrollment: 1660 Website:

Martin University is located in Indianapolis, which puts it quite close to music venues, restaurants, sporting venues, theatrical centers, and urban opportunities. Students who attend Martin University are predominantly African-American, and they are able to pursue degree paths in counseling, the sciences, education, liberal arts, and religious studies or theology.

38 Mid-America Christian University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,680 Enrollment: 3546 Website:

Mid-America Christian University is located in Oklahoma City, and is one of several private Christian universities in the state of Oklahoma. Originally founded as the Gulf Coast Bible College, Mid-America Christian University was relocated from Houston, Texas to better serve a growing population of students interested in theological studies in the “Bible Belt” region of the United States

39 Mid-Continent University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $12,100 Enrollment: 3852 Website:

Mid-Continent University, located in Kentucky, offers a total of five degree options to its students. The private university in Mayfield offers the traditional bachelor’s of science and arts, as well as associate of arts and associate of science degrees, but also offers a bachelor’s degree in ministry for those who are attracted by the university’s religious background and affiliation.

40 Miles College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $9,738 Enrollment: 2944 Website:

Miles College was founded in Fairfield, Alabama at the end of the nineteenth century by the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. This private college is one of the oldest historically black colleges in the nation, and it continues to offer a high quality of education and varied degree paths for its student population, which continues to grow.

41 Morris College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,215 Enrollment: 1584 Website:

In Sumter, South Carolina, Morris College offers four-year educational programs in twenty different educational subjects. This college is regionally accredited, and students can pursue Bachelor’ of Fine Arts, Science, Education, and Arts degrees. Morris College is a private, religious educational institution that maintains its affiliation with the Baptist Church.

42 North Greenville University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,396 Enrollment: 3529 Website:

North Greenville University is located in South Carolina. It was established by the Southern Baptist Convention, and the school still maintains its affiliation with that religious denomination. Secular and religious coursework is offered, and students are able to pursue undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and even doctoral-level degrees from the school

43 Oakwood University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,838 Enrollment: 3051 Website:

Oakwood University is located in the growing city of Huntsville, Alabama. This private institution has Christian affiliations, and students are able to choose either secular or religious degree options, securing associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, or one of several graduate degree options. This university is recognized as an historically black college.

44 Ottawa University-Kansas City MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,080 Enrollment: 522 Website:

The original Ottawa University still operates in Ottawa kansas, but the school has expanded with a satellite campus in Kansas City. Ottawa University-Kansas City has both on-campus and online learning programs. This private college emphasizes learning in the liberal arts field of study and has religious ties with the American Baptist Churches of the USA.

45 Paine College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,550 Enrollment: 1434 Website:

Paine College is located in the beautiful and historic Augusta, Georgia. This college is one of several HBCU post-secondary learning institutions in the Southern region of the United States. While its student body was historically African-American, Paine College now has a wide cultural population of students and an equally wide variety of degree opportunities.

46 Patten University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,440 Enrollment: 2379 Website:

Patten University is located in Oakland, California, and is a private, profitable post-secondary educational institution. This is a religious institution with a focus on evangelical studies, ministry, and religious training. Most notably in the school’s history was the acquisition of the university by UniversityNow in the summer of 2012.

47 Peirce College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,850 Enrollment: 3654 Website:

Peirce College is one of several colleges located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What separates Peirce College from other post-secondary institutions, though, is its comprehensive lineup of both accelerated learning programs and non-traditional degree programs. Most of the students who attend Peirce College take advantage of night and weekend courses or accelerated schedules.

48 Ranken Technical College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,608 Enrollment: 5265 Website:

Ranken Technical College is located in the historic city of St. Louis, Missouri. This technical college is specifically designed to give job training and career certification courses in the automotive, information technology, manufacturing, construction, and electrical technology industries. The school recently constructed a residence hall for students who wish to live on campus.

49 Rust College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $8,100 Enrollment: 1422 Website:

Holly Springs, Mississippi is the location of Rust College, which is a liberal arts educational institution whose original population of students was African American. While this college is historically black, the student body is actually quite varied. This is one of the oldest historically black colleges in the nation, and it is supported by the United Methodist Church.

50 Saint Augustine College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $8,760 Enrollment: 2806 Website:

Saint Augustine College is located in Chicago, Illinois, and this school was established only about thirty years ago by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The college was created to be a bilingual education center for Spanish-speaking students. Currently, the nearly 1500 students attending Saint Augustine College are able to pursue fourteen different educational programs.

51 Saint Augustines College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $12,364 Enrollment: 2806 Website:

Saint Augustine College, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, has actually expanded to become a university, offering coursework in colleges of education, business, art, science, and even pre-medicine. This historically black college was originated as an educational resource for freed slaves, but has developed into one of the premier educational institutions of the Southeast.

52 Shaw University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $10,440 Enrollment: 3543 Website:

Shaw University is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The school was originally known as the Raleigh Institute of Learning, and it was established as an African American educational center. Shaw University has the distinction of being known as the longest-operating historically black university in the southern region of the country.

53 Sojourner-Douglass College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,720 Enrollment: 2051 Website:

Sojourner-Douglass college began its existence as a learning center affiliated with Antioch University in Maryland. However, after its popularity and Afrocentric education efforts increased, the private school, named after Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, became a standalone institution of learning.

54 Southwestern Assemblies of God University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $14,850 Enrollment: 2787 Website:

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is located in Waxahachie, Texas. Because of its close proximity to the greater Dallas area, this school is growing quite quickly. Students who attend SAGU can benefit from the religious studies and ministry opportunities, high quality degree pursuit options, and easy access to urban activities, shopping, dining, and attractions.

55 Stillman College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,026 Enrollment: 1769 Website:

Stillman College is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This historically black college was founded immediately after the end of the American Civil War as an effort to provide freed slaves with a quality education. Today, students of all races, religious backgrounds, and ethnicities are able to pursue bachelor’s degrees in both the arts and sciences and in the field of education.

56 Texas College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $7,992 Enrollment: 2016 Website:

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is the founding group for Texas College, located in Tyler, Texas. The United Negro College Fund continues to financially support this historically black institution. Texas College offers bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees in a variety of subjects including the liberal arts, business, and education.

57 Thomas University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $12,600 Enrollment: 1560 Website:

In Thomasville, Georgia, Thomas University is a private university with all three degree options for its students: associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and even graduate-level degrees. The arts and sciences are both featured at Thomasville, but the school is also known for high quality criminal justice and business administration or management degree paths.

58 Tougaloo College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $9,740 Enrollment: 1428 Website:

Located in Tougaloo, Mississippi, the aptly named Tougaloo College was founded in 1869. This school is historically black, and it was actually founded to provide educational opportunities to slaves that had been recently freed after the American Civil War. The buildings of this college have historical value, and the school still operates as a high quality institution of post-secondary learning.

59 Trocaire College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,580 Enrollment: 2190 Website:

Trocaire College may only be a junior college in Buffalo, New York, but it has created a reputation for providing students with an excellent learning foundation. Initially founded as a school for women, Trocaire College is now coeducational. The school offers certification programs and associate’s degree programs, as well as transfer opportunities for students who want to continue their education.

60 Union Institute & University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $11,352 Enrollment: 2473 Website:

While Union Institute & University does have a physical campus in Cincinnati, Ohio, its main purpose is actually to provide online and distance learning opportunities to students looking for alternative post-secondary educational pursuits. The school is regionally accredited and boasts incredible return rates and degree accomplishment rates amongst its student population.

61 University of Mary MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,200 Enrollment: 3749 Website:

The University of Mary is a Catholic-affiliated university located in North Dakota. The school currently operates two satellite campuses in the state, one located in the downtown region of Bismarck and another in Fargo. Students can pursue a variety of degree options and can also take advantage of the cooperative college campus located in Rome, Italy.

62 Virginia Union University MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $13,314 Enrollment: 2254 Website:

After the American Civil War, the ABHMS formed two separate schools: Wayland Seminary and the Richmond Theological Institute. These two schools have merged to become Virginia Union University in Richmond. This historically black university currently offers undergraduate degree programs, competitive college basketball teams, and spiritual education opportunities.

63 Wiley College MORE DETAILS Tuition and fees: $8,970 Enrollment: 2491 Website:

In Marshall, Texas, Wiley College was founded as a black college of the liberal arts by Methodist Episcopal Church. The Bishop Isaac Wiley is credited for the school’s origins. Today, the school operates both on-campus and off-campus degree programs, and the student population has exceeded a thousand.

What’s a college education worth? While there’s no foolproof way to gauge degree value, certain colleges must be doing something right. Just one percent of colleges across the country have a documented million-dollar return on investment (ROI): alumni whose lifetime earnings surpass those of non-degree holders by seven figures.

The following colleges and universities represent the mere 46 private institutions that make up this Top 1%. These post-secondary juggernauts continually graduate young professionals who earn top dollar over the course of their careers.

To identify the private institutions with seven-figure returns, AC Online examined tuition rates, fees, and alumni salaries for more than 7,000 U.S. colleges and universities. Primary data sources include the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Carnegie Foundation, and – four of the most trusted names in college- and career-related data.

For detailed information on how each college arrived on the list, please visit our methodology page.

Rank University 30 Year Net ROI: Net Price: Website: Description
1 Harvey Mudd College 30 Year Net ROI: $2,113,000 Net Price: $30,171 Website:

A private institution in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College holds the unique distinction of specializing in science, engineering, and mathematics-related education, yet also providing students with solid program options in the liberal arts and humanities. Harvey Mudd College was chartered in December of 1955 and first opened its doors to students in 1957.

2 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,991,000 Net Price: $25,382 Website:

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), located in Pasadena, California, specializes in science and engineering research and education on a world-class level. Caltech prizes knowledge, innovation, and the individual attention its students receive through an amazing 3-to-1 students-faculty ratio.

3 Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,622,000 Net Price: $21,951 Website:

The Polytechnic Institute of New York University is part of the NYU college system. This private institution offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 100 distinct areas. Invention and entrepreneurship shine at NYU-Poly, with help from project-focused coursework that tackles challenging, real-world issues.

4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,606,000 Net Price: $20,660 Website:

Founded in 1861, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research institution with a world-renown curriculum in science, engineering, and technology. There are 32 academic departments at MIT offering top-notch degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctorate levels. MIT’s mission involves educating students who contribute to the betterment of humankind.

5 Stevens Institute of Technology 30 Year Net ROI: $1,461,000 Net Price: $28,387 Website:

With its main campus in Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology provides students with an extensive suite of nationally recognized science- and technology-related degree programs. Stevens also has a satellite campus centrally located in Washington, D.C. This private research university offers 29 different undergraduate majors, as well as more than 40 master’s and doctoral degrees options.

6 Stanford University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,432,000 Net Price: $21,421 Website:

Located in heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University has been a world leader in research, education, and innovation for more than a century. In addition to tremendous academic depth and breadth, Stanford boasts one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the U.S. The university also serves as a strong magnet for both faculty and students with an eye on entrepreneurship.

7 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,354,000 Net Price: $34,153 Website:

Located in Terre Haute, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a private research university that specializes in technical and scientific degrees. While recognized for its undergraduate degrees in math and science, the college offers an impressive collection graduate degree options in a number of academic areas.

8 Harvard University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,334,000 Net Price: $18,277 Website:

Establish in 1636, Harvard University remains one of the most impressive post-secondary institutions in the world. Forty-four past and present faculty members have been awarded the Nobel Prize, as have numerous alumni, including former vice president Al Gore. Harvard is comprised of 11 distinct academic units — ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

9 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,316,000 Net Price: $34,338 Website:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, offers top-notch education with a strong balance of practice and theory. WPI not only teaches some of today’s best and brightest, but they encourage betterment through action. The university has more than 50 combined undergraduate and graduate programs delivered by world-class faculty.

10 Santa Clara University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,282,000 Net Price: $33,890 Website:

With a deep Jesuit tradition, Santa Clara University offers five different schools of study, including arts and sciences, education, business, engineering, and theology. Students have a wide range of academic options from which to choose, including degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels.

11 Dartmouth College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,262,000 Net Price: $20,814 Website:

Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College is a private institution with a rich Ivy League tradition. Dartmouth has a number of distinct schools that make up the college, most notably its Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, Geisel School of Medicine, and School of Graduate Studies. Dartmouth College strives to produce graduates who are global, lifelong learners.

12 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,254,000 Net Price: $33,257 Website:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or simply RPI, offers both undergraduates and graduates more than 145 degree options, most notably in architecture, science, information technology, engineering, business, and the humanities. Founded in 1824, RPI is the oldest technological university in the U.S., and boasts students from 43 different states.

13 Williams College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,254,000 Net Price: $16,493 Website:

Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College boasts 35 distinct academic majors across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Williams students also have the opportunity to craft their own majors, and partake in experiential learning via off-campus and study away programs. Notable study away programs include a year-long program at Oxford University and a semester immersed in ocean and coastal studies.

14 University of Notre Dame 30 Year Net ROI: $1,250,000 Net Price: $24,632 Website:

Founded in1842, the University of Notre Dame is an independent Catholic institution prized for academic rigor and world-class research. The university is comprised of four undergraduate colleges: Arts and Letters, Science, Engineering, and the Mendoza College of Business. In addition to a renown graduate school, Notre Dame has an award-winning faculty, with more fellowships from the National Endowment from the Humanities than any other U.S. college since 1988.

15 Princeton University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,234,000 Net Price: $18,813 Website:

Princeton University provides both undergraduate and graduate students with an impressive collection of degree programs in numerous disciplines. Graduate studies concentrate on social science, natural science, engineering, and the humanities. This independent, non-denominational university is the fourth oldest post-secondary institution in the U.S., and is considered one of the nine “Colonial Colleges”.

16 Babson College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,228,000 Net Price: $27,052 Website:

Routinely ranked #1 for entrepreneurship education, Babson College offers students a world-class business education fueled by a global and innovative curriculum. The college’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business focuses on real-world business problem-solving in a dynamic classroom atmosphere. Located in Babson Park, Massachusetts, the college first held classes in 1919.

17 Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,222,000 Net Price: $32,054 Website:

For more than 113 years, Carnegie Mellon University has been a leader in bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and fostering startup business success. In addition to its main campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, CMU has campuses in Qatar and Silicon Valley. Carnegie Mellon routinely receives top 10 rankings for excellence in business, computer science, and robotics.

18 Haverford College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,222,000 Net Price: $21,449 Website:

Haverford College, located just outside of Philadelphia, focuses on rigorous yet intimate academics that challenge students in smaller, more personal classroom settings. In addition to diverse liberal arts education, Haverford takes pride in its Honor Code and historic Quaker traditions.

19 University of Pennsylvania 30 Year Net ROI: $1,220,000 Net Price: $20,592 Website:

Located in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania is a world-class institution offering a tremendous suite of undergraduate and graduate degree options to a combined student body of more than 20,000. Also known simply as “Penn”, the university boasts an impressive collection of graduate schools, including the Wharton School of Business and the Perelman School of Medicine.

20 Manhattan College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,216,000 Net Price: $22,717 Website:

Manhattan College is a private institution residing in Riverdale, with great access to New York City. Founded in 1853, it offers an exceptional college education backed by Lasallian Catholic values. Manhattan has more than 60 different academic degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

21 Columbia University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,175,000 Net Price: $19,073 Website:

Columbia University, located in the heart of New York City, opened its doors to students in 1754. Known widely as a research institution, Columbia also welcomes an extremely diverse faculty and student body, both of which contribute to the college’s mission of high-level learning for the global good.

22 Duke University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,146,000 Net Price: $22,879 Website: WWW.DUKE.EDU

Duke University, home of the Blue Devils, has approximately 13,000 graduate and undergraduate students and a world-renowned faculty focused on expanding the frontiers of knowledge. Duke University has an undying commitment to applying knowledge in service to society, both at home in North Carolina and around the world. The top 5 Majors at Duke University: 1. Economics, 2. Public Policy Studies, 3. Biomedical Engineering, 4. Biology, 5. Psychology.

23 Lehigh University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,145,000 Net Price: $24,510 Website:

Founded in 1865, Lehigh is one of the nation’s top research universities. Nearly 5,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students attend this beautiful college located in Pennsylvania’s scenic Lehigh Valley. Lehigh is situated in close proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia. The university offers a variety of degrees in 4 colleges: The College of Arts and Sciences, The College of Business and Economics, The College of Education and The P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

24 Swarthmore College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,139,000 Net Price: $20,427 Website:

Swarthmore College, from its founding in 1864, has provided students the insight, knowledge, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Swarthmore College offers a rich engineering and liberal arts curriculum. Swarthmore College is private, yet open to everyone regardless of financial need. In addition, diversity is found in the student body, with students coming from around the world and all 50 states. Swarthmore offers more than 600 courses in science, engineering, humanities, and social sciences.

25 Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) 30 Year Net ROI: $1,127,000 Net Price: $19,456 Website:

The Illinois Institute of Technology, commonly called Illinois Tech or IIT, is a PhD-granting research university with world-renowned degree programs in architecture, engineering, humanities, business, psychology, and law. The college was founded in 1940 and traces its roots back to the Amour Institute of Technology. IIT couples the cultural experiences of Chicago with feel of a small undergraduate college.

26 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) – Prescott, AZ 30 Year Net ROI: $1,122,000 Net Price: $33,720 Website:

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university in Arizona, specializing in aviation and aerospace higher education. Embry-Riddle teaches the science, practice, and business of aerospace and aviation. Time magazine called Embry-Riddle “The Harvard of the Sky” in 1979, given the institution’s history dating back to the early days of aviation. Embry-Riddle Worldwide serves civilians in the workforce and military personnel around the world.

27 Lafayette College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,119,000 Net Price: $25,963 Website:

Founded in 1826 in Easton Pennsylvania, Lafayette University is an academically competitive college loved by students because if offers a wide breadth of learning across the arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, and engineering. Lafayette’s endowment of over $750 million is focused almost solely on its roughly 2,400 undergraduates. The college, located 70 miles from New York City, offers B.A. degrees in 37 fields and B.S. degrees in 14 fields of study.

28 Brown University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,118,000 Net Price: $22,743 Website:

Brown University, located in the historic Providence, Rhode Island, was founded in 1764, and is the seventh-oldest college in the United States. As an independent, coeducational Ivy League institution, Brown University is comprised of undergraduate and graduate programs, including the School of Engineering, Alpert Medical School, Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership and the IE Brown Executive MBA. Brown has more than 70 concentrations of study for undergraduates, ranging from Egyptology to cognitive neuroscience.

29 Cornell University – Ithaca, NY 30 Year Net ROI: $1,117,000 Net Price: $24,249 Website:

Cornell University, once called “the first American university” by Frederick Rudolph, an education historian, represents a distinctive assortment of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. On the main campus in Ithaca, New York, the approximately 20,000 students choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Cornell is home to four National Science Foundation National Research Centers and a number of other national user facilities.

30 Clarkson University – Potsdam, NY 30 Year Net ROI: $1,100,000 Net Price: $24,205 Website:

Clarkson University, the third-smallest ranked research university in the nation, and the home to over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students, has over 50 degree programs. The university cites that 1 in 5 alums hold CEO or senior leadership positions. They also ranked in the top 20 of PayScale’s 2011 average salary report.

31 Kettering University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,097,000 Net Price: $29,255 Website: WWW.KETTERING.EDU

Founded in 1919 by a group of Flint leaders with a vision for transforming the automobile industry, Kettering University today offers 15 undergraduate degrees, 5 graduate degrees, and a variety of majors and minors that allow the university to deliver an education that couples theory and practice better than any other institution in the world. At Kettering, the faculty is dedicated to achieving the extraordinary through technological innovation, leadership and service. Through growth, global leadership, community outreach and an engaged community of stakeholders, Kettering is achieving its aspirations.

32 Johns Hopkins University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,072,000 Net Price: $25,795 Website:

Founded in 1876, The Johns Hopkins University, or JHU, is one of the nation’s top ranked not-for-profit research universities. The university has campuses across the globe including in Maryland, Washington, D.C., China, Singapore, and Italy. The mission of the college remains unchanged since 1876 and can be expressed in a simple statement: “Knowledge for the World.”

33 Touro College – New York, NY 30 Year Net ROI: $1,070,000 Net Price: $9,771 Website:

As a Jewish-sponsored independent institution of higher and professional education, Touro College was established primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American community. Approximately 19,000 students are enrolled in Touro College’s various schools and divisions. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, covering campuses in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Florida.

34 Rice University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,069,000 Net Price: $19,675 Website:

Rice University, located in Houston Texas, is one of the nation’s leading research universities. Rice is known for having a small student body with one of the lowest student-faculty ratios amongst top American universities. With 11 colleges and 8 schools of academic study, Rice has a wide breadth of programs. Rice competes at the NCAA Division I-A level and the college mascot is the Owl.

35 Washington and Lee University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,053,000 Net Price: $20,585 Website:

Washington and Lee, located in Lexington Virginia, is a small, liberal arts college located the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. This university is committed to the values of liberal education and has the purpose to develop student’s capacity to think freely. This 9th oldest higher learning institution offers 40 major and 20 minors.

36 Milwaukee School of Engineering 30 Year Net ROI: $1,051,000 Net Price: $24,546 Website:

Milwaukee School of Engineering, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a vibrant and caring community of students and faculty. For 110 years, the university has been committed to fostering a higher standard of academic programming and offering an applications-oriented education. Students spend an average of 600 hours in state-of-the-art laboratories learning from industry experienced professors. MSOE offers bachelor and master’s degree programs in engineering, business, mathematics and nursing, and is a private, non-profit university.

37 Tufts University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,045,000 Net Price: $26,274 Website:

Tufts University, located in Medford, Massachusetts, was founded in 1852 by Charles Tufts, an American businessman and philanthropist. Tufts seeks quality in teaching, research, and services that support their academic enterprise. The university is organized into ten schools, including eight graduate divisions and two undergraduate schools. Tufts emphasizes active citizenship for all students and faculty, and public service in all of its disciplines.

38 Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art 30 Year Net ROI: $1,037,000 Net Price: $16,794 Website:

Founded in 1859 by industrialist Peter Cooper, Cooper Union is one of the most distinguished and respected higher learning institutions in the nation. Unlike almost any other university, Cooper Union admits students based on merit and provides all students a full scholarship. Situated in the East Village of Manhattan, students can enjoy a unique neighborhood and culture.

39 Hamilton College – Clinton, NY 30 Year Net ROI: $1,030,000 Net Price: $20,355 Website:

A leading private college, Hamilton’s mission is to develop students as human beings as they are prepared to take on the everyday responsibilities of citizenship. Students enjoy classes that are tailored to individuals, with three-quarters of the classes having fewer than 20 students and a student-faculty ratio of 9:1. Hamilton boasts a student body among the best and brightest our nation offers, with 87% of accepted students ranking in the top 10% of their high school classes.

40 University of the Pacific 30 Year Net ROI: $1,029,000 Net Price: $27,766 Website:

University of the Pacific boasts one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country. Pacific aims to prepare tomorrow’s leaders through “intensive academic study, experiential learning, and service to the community.” Small class sizes and dynamic environment help to fulfill Pacific’s goals as students work to achieve their own personal and professional goals. The university consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the country.

41 Amherst College 30 Year Net ROI: $1,024,000 Net Price: $17,574 Website:

Despite a student body of less than 2,000, Amherst is big on quality, and has been called the “best of the best” for low-income, high-talent students. With a student-faculty ratio of only 8:1, students enjoy a personalized atmosphere where their minds are engaged through group discussion and sophisticated research. Students are able to chart their own course to graduation and beyond by creating the program that fits their wants and needs. Amherst celebrates ethnic, cultural, and financial diversity by making itself accessible to any student, regardless of need.

42 Colgate University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,023,000 Net Price: $18,647 Website:

With nearly 98% of its full-time faculty holding the highest degree in their fields, Colgate offers some of the best and brightest professors available. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work in research facilities, as well as co-author peer-review journals and present at national conferences. As a highly selective institution, Colgate takes pride in its academic offerings and the high expectations it holds for all its students. Students broaden their horizons through Colgate’s many worldwide humanitarian projects. With small classes and a strong emphasis on close faculty-student interaction, Colgate encourages students to become thoughtful, critical thinkers and perceptive leaders.

43 Drexel University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,019,000 Net Price: $34,660 Website:

Drexel offers research opportunities in all disciplines, resulting in more than $110 million in expenditures for sponsored projects each year. Its innovative co-op program allows students to build professional networks during their studies, which often leads to higher starting salaries than graduates from other schools. This private university is one of the nation’s largest with 25,000 students studying in its 200 degree programs. An online education program is available for students who need flexibility in their schedule.

44 Villanova University 30 Year Net ROI: $1,019,000 Net Price: $28,835 Website:

An Augustinian Catholic university, Villanova offers students the opportunity to excel academically while helping others through various service programs. More than 10,000 students are supported by the Augustinian Institute as they strive to reach their fullest potential through a personalized educational experience. Villanova students are encouraged to engage both their intellectual and spiritual well-being through the principles of truth, unity, and love. A first-year learning community ensures the success of freshmen by building a close-knit community of students.