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And the top five most-expensive colleges in America are ...

October 13, 2011 |  5:21 pm

Tuition costsHow much does it cost to attend the most expensive college in America?

(Parents, you may want to sit down and have a paper bag handy before we deliver the blow.)

The short answer is a whopping $45,212 in tuition. With housing, food and books -- plus transportation -- the grand total of attending the most expensive college in America is $58,334.

Per year.

That's according to calculations from Forbes magazine in conjunction with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit organization studying the causes of rising educational costs.

The dubious distinction of being the most expensive school in America goes to the small New York-based liberal arts school Sarah Lawrence College, for the second year in a row.

Yowch.

In a write-up of the findings, a Forbes reporter explains that Sarah Lawrence's high price tag is in part because of its location near the town of Bronxville, an expensive suburb of New York City, and also because the school has a very small teacher-student ratio.  

“In practically all cases, our classes are seminars with an average head count of 12 students,” Thomas Blum, vice president for administration at Sarah Lawrence, told Forbes. “We have five lecture sections this fall, and our largest lecture section may have 75 students.”

To be fair, even very expensive colleges offer financial aid packages -- and Sarah Lawrence is no exception.

Alas, because the school has a relatively small endowment, it can't offer as much as some of the larger, also-very-expensive schools.

The other schools on the Top 5 list are:

University of Chicago (Illinois): Tuition $42,021, total cost $57,590

The New School (New York): Tuition $37,610, total cost $57,199

Washington University (Missouri): Tuition $41,992, total cost $56,930

Columbia University (New York): Tuition $45,290, total cost $56,681

Note that three of the top five most expensive schools (including Sarah Lawrence) are in New York, where living expenses are particularly high.

Parents, take that as a warning.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Credit: Michael Osbun / Los Angeles Times

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