We all know that college costs continue to outstrip inflation, but who are the biggest culprits?
According to the latest federal statistics, many of the institutions charging the most money are private and public universities on the East Coast, as well as a host of art schools and music conservatories.
The federal College Affordability and Transparency Center released its latest annual lists of the nation's most expensive schools on Monday - the day before the 2014-2015 interest rate hikes on federal college loans officially kicked in.
The lists target the five percent of colleges and universities that were charging the highest tuition/fees in 2012 among more than 4,300 institutions, as well as schools that have the largest net prices for the most recent academic year.
Each year the federal government releases the names of the tuition hogs in the hopes of encouraging colleges and universities to moderate their price hikes. While well intentioned, this goal doesn't appear to be working. You'll see many of the same public and private schools on these federal lists every year.
Four-year private institutions with highest tuition
The private institutions that charge the highest tuition are nearly all located on the East Coast and the top three are in New York state.
1. Columbia University (N.Y.) $47,246
2. Sarah Lawrence College (N.Y.) $46,924
3. Vassar College (N.Y.) $46,270
4. Wesleyan University (Conn.) $45,928
5. George Washington University (D.C.) $45,780
6. Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) $45,760
7. Trinity College (Conn.) $45,730
8. University of Chicago (Ill.) $45,609
9. Bucknell University (Pa.) $45,378
10. Tulane University (La.) $45,240
State institutions with the highest tuition
State universities in Pennsylvania have the dubious honor of charging the highest tuition prices. Eight of the 20 most expensive state universities are located in Pennsylvania.
1. University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) $16,590
2. Pennsylvania State University (Pa.) $16,444
3. University of New Hampshire (N.H.) $16,422
4. Colorado School of Mines (Colo.) $15,654
5. University of Vermont (Vt.) $15,284
6. St. Mary's College of Maryland (Md.) $14,773
7. New Jersey Institute of Technology (N.J) $14,740
8. University of Illinois (Ill.) $14,522
9. College of New Jersey (N.J.) $14,378
10. Pennsylvania College of Technology (Pa.) $14,370
What matters the most is the net price
Sticker prices can be misleading. Wealthy students, for instance, will pay the full tab at Columbia University, the nation's most expensive four-year school, but this Ivy League institution provides excellent financial aid to those who need assistance.
What actually matters is not the sticker price, but the net price, which is what the tab is after scholarships and grants are deducted.
State universities with highest net prices
1. Miami University (Ohio) $24,674
2. Pennsylvania State University (Pa.) $22,560
3. Colorado School of Mines (Colo.) $21,980
4. University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) $21,641
5. University of New Hampshire (N.H.) $21,424
6. Temple University (Pa.) $21,012
7. Penn State U. Erie-Behrend College (Pa.) $20,516
8. University of Missouri - Kansas City (Mo.) $20,017
9. Ohio State University (Ohio) $19,998
10. University of Colorado (Colo.) $19,991
Private institutions with highest net price
The schools that are huddled at the top of this list are primarily art schools and music conservatories.
1. Hult International Business School (Mass.) $46,746
2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Ill.) $44,838
3. Boston Conservatory (Mass.) $43,894
4. California Institute of the Arts (Calif.) $42,616
5. The New School (N.Y.) $41,310
6. Art Center College of Design (Calif.) $40,698
7. Ringling College of Art and Design (Fla.) $40,354
8. Berklee College of Music (Mass.) $40,145
9. San Francisco Art Institute $39,986
10. Southern California Institute of Architecture $39,532
Among the schools on the list of institutions with the highest net prices are universities located on the East and West coasts including New York University, Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, Drexel University, Catholic University of America and Fordham University.
You can generate the lists for yourself by visiting the federal College Affordability and Transparency Center.