How Much Does An Ivy League Education Cost?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A graduation cap and diploma on top of paper bills

How Much Does It Really Cost to Get an Ivy League Education?

The Ivy League is often viewed as the holy grail of higher education. The eight schools comprising this prestigious group are well-known for their unrivaled academic opportunities, large endowments, top-tier instructors, and wealth of opportunities. However, it’s also understood that this reputation comes with a price tag. You’ve probably heard people talk about how expensive these schools are, but how much does an Ivy League education cost in reality?

That’s a great question! And one we’ll answer in-depth so you have a better understanding of what you’ll need to put forward in order to attend these highly esteemed schools. We’ll take a look at the true cost of an Ivy League education, whether or not it’s worthwhile, and some tips for achieving this goal financially.

What’s all included when paying for an Ivy League education?

Before we dive into the specifics of how much an Ivy League education costs, you might be wondering what factors contribute to the overall cost of attending an ivy school. In other words, what are you paying for each year?

In general, costs are divided into fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those that don’t vary in between each student. They’re the same for everybody attending the school. Variable costs, as the name suggests, fluctuate in between each person.

You might end up paying more or less to your fellow student for these particular expenses. Here are some examples of both fixed and variable costs to give you a better idea of the financial landscape of an Ivy League education.

Fixed Costs

  • Tuition
  • First-year fees
  • Room
  • Board

Variable Costs

  • Books
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel
  • Transportation

How do the Ivies split up their costs?

All Ivy League schools publicly post their tuition rates and other expenses, making it easy for high schoolers and parents to get a pretty accurate idea of how much they’ll end up paying. However, each school tends to divide its expenses slightly differently. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the main terminology used when discussing college costs. This will make it easier for you to understand where your money is going.

Tuition – This is the actual cost of the academic portion of an Ivy League school. It’s typically one of the largest chunks of a university’s overall cost.

Fees – Most Ivy League schools apply a fee for first-year students. These fees are typically very minimal, especially when compared to other expenses on the list.

Room – Many of the Ivies require first-year students to live on campus. Room simply refers to housing which is another sizable chunk of the overall cost of attending an Ivy League school.

Board – You’ll often hear the terms “Room & Board” together when discussing school costs. Board refers to the on-campus food you’ll pay to have available.

Books – Most of the classes you take at an Ivy League school will require at least one book. These expenses vary between each course but can add up quickly.

Transportation – You’ll need to get around when you’re at college. Whether you’ve got your own car or you take public transportation, it’s a cost that should be taken into consideration.

Personal Expenses – As one of the more vague terms used when discussing school costs, this refers to anything you’ll spend on your own related to college.

Miscellaneous – Some colleges lump a variety of variable costs into one group and label it miscellaneous. This can sometimes include personal expenses, transportation, and other common expenses.

How much does an Ivy League education cost?

The most effective and accurate way to determine how much an Ivy League education really costs is to look at the average cost of attending each Ivy League school. Of course, each school varies in exact costs, but you’ll notice that most hover around $80,000.

Naturally, there are some fluctuations in pricing between students depending on a variety of variable factors such as where they live, how much they spend, and much more. Still, each of the Ivies provides accurate numbers on how much an incoming freshman can expect to pay when attending.

Here’s how much it costs to attend each of the Ivies. Keep in mind that exact prices will vary between each student. However, these estimations are still incredibly accurate.

Columbia University

Item Cost
Tuition $60,514
Fees $3,016
Room & Board $15,450
Books & Personal Expenses $3,605
Total $82,585

Brown University

Item Cost
Tuition $60,944
Fees $1,360
Room $10,054
Board $6,292
Academic Record Fee $100
Books $1,652
Personal $2,268
Total $82,650

Cornell University

Item Cost
Tuition $60,286
Housing & Dining $16,396
Student Activity Fee $309
Health Fee $420
Books & Supplies $1,000
Personal & Miscellaneous $1,876
Total $80,287

Harvard University

Item Cost
Tuition $51,904
Room & Board $21,130
Health Insurance $5,282
Books & Supplies $866
Personal Expenses $4,420
Transportation $1,422
Federal Loan Fees $216
Total $85,060

Yale University

Item Cost
Tuition & Fees $59,950
Room $10,100
Board $7,700
Books & Personal Expenses $3,700
Student Activities Fee $125
Total $81,575

Princeton University

Item Cost
Tuition $56,010
Room Charge $10,690
Board Rate $7,490
Miscellaneous $3,500
Total $77,690

Dartmouth College

Item Cost
Tuition $58,953
Fees $1,917
Housing $10,569
Food $7,017
Books $1,005
Miscellaneous $2,040
Total $81,501

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

Item Cost
Tuition $54,652*
Fees $7,058*
Housing $11,358*
Dining $5,946*
Books & Supplies $1,358
Transportation $922
Personal Expenses $2,004
Total $83,298

What is the cheapest Ivy League school?

Many students interested in attending an Ivy League school want to know the most affordable school within the group. Similarly, people often wonder which is the easiest Ivy to get into. According to the 2021-2022 tuition rates, Princeton is the cheapest Ivy League school. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “cheapest Ivy” due to its lower tuition cost when compared to other Ivy League schools. The estimated cost of attending Princeton is $77,690. For comparison, the most expensive Ivy League school is – you guessed it! – Harvard with an estimated cost of $85,060. That’s nearly an $8,000 difference!

Tips for saving for an Ivy League education

Now that you know the true cost of an Ivy League education, the next question becomes how do you put yourself in the best position to cover these expenses. Well, we’ve got you covered there too! Here, we’ll take a look at a few ways both parents and students can prepare for this investment. After all, this is exactly how you should view any college education, especially when attending the Ivies.


One of the best things parents can do to financially prepare their kids for the Ivies is saving early. How early? As early as possible! All parents who want to support their children through college financially should start putting aside a certain portion of their monthly income from early on. As with any financial investment, the early you start saving, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

While simply putting funds away in a savings account is effective, there are some special savings plans, known as 529 plans, that have the express purpose of helping parents save for college. Known as qualified tuition plans, these tax-advantaged savings plans allow parents to put funds away to cover future education expenses, like an Ivy League education.


Although the vast majority of students will need to take out at least some student loans to cover the cost of an Ivy League education, there are some steps you can take to alleviate some of the financial pressure. Just like your parents, you can start putting money aside to pay for college.

Even if you don’t have enough saved up by the time you’re in college to make a difference, the money you put away while you’re in college can go towards paying off student loans in the future. Any little bit can help!

But that’s not all you can do. You can also control how much your Ivy League education costs. That might sound impossible, but it’s true. While tuitions and fees are fixed, there are several variable costs factored into the overall cost of an Ivy League education that you can work to reduce.

For example, you have a lot of control over how much food and transportation costs you incur. Consciously keeping these variable costs to a minimum can help make a difference in how much you’ll need to pay overall for an Ivy League degree.

Perhaps the most effective thing students can do to decrease the costs of attending the Ivies is to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships. All Ivy league universities offer robust financial assistance to eligible applicants but it’s not given out without effort on our behalf.

Visit the tuition assistance pages of the Ivy League schools to determine just how much assistance you might be eligible for. Much of the tie, financial support is dependent upon housheold income and other variable factors. Some schools even have calculators where you can accurately determine how much you can receive.

Is an Ivy League education worth the cost?

Now that you have a better understanding of how much it costs to get an Ivy League education, you might still be wondering if the cost is worth it. When compared to the cost of public universities, the Ivies might seem highly overpriced.

But you have to consider things within their proper context. The Ivy League offers better academic opportunities than most other colleges in the entire country and the world! In other words, the cost of an Ivy League education is justified by what’s being offered.

Both parents and students can alleviate some stress by viewing the cost of an Ivy League education as an investment instead of a purchase. When you make a purchase, the value of what you get either diminishes or remains the same. It doesn’t offer anything in return.

On the other hand, an investment provides a valuable return. While most people think of stocks, bonds, and other financial assets when considering investments, an Ivy League education can also be considered in this category.

You’re investing the cost of attending an Ivy League university with a plan to recoup the benefits of that education in the future. So, the next question becomes, do the Ivy Leagues offer students more in terms of professional opportunity than other schools?

The most direct way to answer that question is to determine if Ivy League graduates make more than their non-Ivy counterparts.

Do Ivy League graduates earn more income?

Yes! According to a variety of studies, graduates from Ivy League universities end up earning more than those who attended other colleges. A 2015 U.S. Department of Education report said that Ivy League graduates earned an average of $70,000 each year a decade after graduation.

On the other hand, graduates from non-Ivy League schools only had a median salary of roughly $34,000. That represents a 100% earning difference between those with an Ivy League education and those without.

But that wasn’t the only study suggesting this major difference. Another study out of Brigham Young University, Cornell University, and Rand University suggests that those with an Ivy League education earn 39% more than graduates of second-tier schools.

The Bottom Line: The value of an Ivy League education

The Ivy League has remained the most prestigious and highly sought-after group of universities and colleges in the entire country. Countless students dream of attending these esteemed campuses and receiving a degree with an Ivy League university stamp.

When considering the costs of attending these universities, many students and parents rightfully question the value of the investment. Not only are there countless cases of successful Ivy League graduates, but there are also statistics proving the value of attending these schools versus other universities.

Although Ivy League schools charge more per student than other schools, these universities also invest more per student than most other colleges. How does that work? Well, every school has what’s known as an endowment which is essentially their budget. This plays a large role in determining how much schools invest in educational opportunities.

Ivy League schools have some of the largest endowments which makes it possible for these universities to invest heavily into student offerings. These investments lead to more opportunities for students and improved education overall.

Elite schools, like those in the Ivy League, tend to spend around 7.75 times more per student than other colleges. This translates into around $92,000 per pupil at Ivy League universities. While second-tier institutions are only spending $12,000 per student.

When you pay for an Ivy League education, you’re getting access to all of the advantages that these prestigious schools have to offer. There’s no question that receiving an  Ivy League education is worthwhile. The only question is whether or not you have what it takes to get accepted!

Improve your chances of getting into the Ivies

Dreaming of getting into the Ivy League but don’t know where to begin/ You’re not alone! Every year, thousands of high schoolers set their sights on the Ivies without a solid understanding of what it takes to achieve this goal. That’s where AdmissionSight can help! We’re a college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students get into the school of their choice.

All of our services are specifically designed to help high schoolers dramatically improve their applications. Furthermore, we custom-tailor all of our services to match the specific needs, goals, and interests of each student we work with. Here are just a few examples of the services we offer:

Summer Programs – We’ll make sure you choose a summer program that will further your skills in your desired field while catching the attention of admissions officers.

Extracurricular Planning – What you’re doing outside the classroom matters too! We’ll guide you in choosing the best extracurriculars given your goals and interests.

Academic Guidance – We’ll help you choose the right courses to take in high school to put you on the right path towards college.

Interview Preparation – Our team can ensure you’re prepared to nail your interview preparation so you make a lasting impression.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services and how you can benefit, feel free to contact AdmissionSight to set up a free consultation. We look forward

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