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It costs almost $76,000 a year to go to Yale—but here's how much students actually pay

Fans in the student section cheer during a game between the Yale Bulldogs and the Harvard Crimson at the Yale Bowl on November 18, 2017 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The cost of going to college has been constantly increasing over the past several decades, and few schools are immune.

According to the College Board's 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, from 1988 to 2018, sticker prices tripled at public four-year schools and doubled at public two-year and private non-profit four-year schools.

Private non-profit four-year schools have some of the highest four-year graduation rates, and graduate some of the highest-earning students. They also have the biggest sticker prices.

But those prices can be misleading. Yale, a prestigious member of the Ivy League, reports that during the 2019-2020 school year, tuition costs $55,500, rooming costs $9,400 and boarding costs $7,200, for a sum total of $72,100. Additionally, the school estimates that books and personal expenses costs students about $3,700 a year and states that the student activities fee is $125 a year, bringing the total cost of attendance up to about $75,925 per year.

Yale also lists school health insurance ($2,404) and senior class dues ($119) as other potential costs.

These costs, however can vary dramatically based on how much a student's family makes.

A shuttle drives students around the campus of Yale University.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Yale is a need-blind school, meaning it does not consider a family's financial status or ability to pay when evaluating applicants. Yale is also considered a "full-need no-loans" school, which means it claims to help students cover the cost of attending school without forcing them to take on loans.

According to the university, "more than 50% of Yale students receive need-based aid from Yale and 64% receive financial assistance from Yale or an outside source." The Yale Admissions website states that the average scholarship for Yale students was approximately $52,800 for the 2018-2019 school year.

The school says that families with household incomes of less than $65,000 are not expected to contribute any funds to pay for their students education and families that make between $65,000 and $200,000 contribute between just 1% and 20% of their annual income.

While this generous financial aid may make Yale affordable for lower, middle and some upper class students, many students who attend Yale come from wealthy families and earn more than $200,000 a year.

According to The New York Times, the median family income of a student from Yale is $192,600. Roughly 69% of Yale students come from the highest-earning 20% of American households. About 19% come from families in the top 1% of American wealth distribution.

For comparison, the median family income of a student from rivalschool Harvard is $168,800, 67% of students come from the highest-earning 20% of American households and 15% come from families in the top 1%.

Of course, Yale and Harvard are not alone in admitting a disproportionate number of students from wealthy families. Harvard's own Raj Chetty conducted extensive research on the wealth distribution of American college students and found that students from the top 1% of households are 77 times more likely to be admitted to and attend an Ivy League school than students from families who make less than $30,000 a year.

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