It costs $73,160 a year to go to MIT—but here's how much students actually pay

An undergraduate student from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, competes in the annual 2.007, "Star Wars" themed, robot competition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 11, 2017.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Over the past several decades, the cost of attending college — any type of college — has increased significantly.

According to the College Board's 2018 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.

Despite these costs, earning a four-year degree — especially at a top-ranking university — continues to be a high-yield investment. In 2018, college graduates earned weekly wages that were 80 percent higher than those of high school graduates.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious schools in the world and its graduates earn some of the highest salaries. According to an analysis from salary comparison site PayScale, MIT graduates are the second highest-earning workers in the country, with early-career salaries of about $83,600 on average and mid-career salaries of about $150,400 on average.

But earning an MIT diploma requires meeting rigorous academic standards and a significant financial investment. Today, the cost of attending MIT is about $73,160 per year. Exactly how much student spends earning an MIT diploma however, can vary dramatically and many students end up paying far less.

A man walks through Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The full price to attend MIT for the 2019–2020 academic year is $73,160.⁠ This total costs includes $53,450 for tuition, $10,430 for housing, $5,960 for food costs, $2,160 for personal expenses, $820 for books and supplies and $340 to cover the school's student life fee.

However, MIT claims that this cost is already reduced. "All undergraduates attend MIT at a significant discount to the true cost of an MIT education," states the school website. "The actual cost of an MIT education is about twice the annual tuition. Even those students who pay full tuition do not pay the total cost."

MIT is one of just a few schools in the country to be considered full-need and need-blind, meaning the school does not consider financial status during acceptance decisions and claims to meet all demonstrated financial need.

Students from families that make less than $90,000 a year are not expected to contribute towards tuition at all. This cap is significantly higher than at schools like Harvard and Yale, where the cap is $65,000. And students from families earning up to $250,000 can still qualify for need-based financial aid at MIT, depending on their circumstances.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the net cost for an MIT student receiving need-based aid will be $22,500.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Graduate student Nicolas Gomez, who received a degree in civil engineering, wears a pencil sphere on his cap during the MIT commencement at Killian Court on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA on Jun. 9, 2017.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

According to the Office of the Vice Chancellor at MIT, 18% of MIT students receive Federal Pell Grants, about 58% of undergraduate students receive scholarships from MIT and the estimated average scholarship amount is $51,500 per student. The school reports that roughly 72% of MIT students graduate without debt and the average debt total for a graduating student with loans was $14,840 in 2018.

According to The New York Times, the median family income of a student at MIT is $137,400, 61% of students come from the highest-earning 20% of American households, and 5.7% come from the highest-earning 1% of American households.

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