These days, it can seem nearly impossible to find an affordable college. Even state universities - long considered a favorite among budget-conscious families - have now become relatively expensive. But when it comes to sky-high college costs, certain cities lead the pack. (For related reading, check out Pay For College Without Selling A Kidney.)

In Pictures: 6 Ways To Fund A College Education

Keep in mind these are just the "sticker prices," meaning the actual cost of tuition and room & board. Depending on how generous the school's financial aid awards are, students may end up paying considerably less. This is especially true in the case of Ivy Leagues and exclusive liberal arts colleges, where income-based aid systems often result in students paying only a small fraction of the bill. Here's where you will find the most expensive schools in the country. (Find out what to do when your kid is ready for higher education, but you aren't in Preparing Parents' Pockets For College Tuition.)

New York City
Given the high cost of just about everything in the Big Apple, perhaps it's not surprising that you'll find some of the most expensive schools in this area. Topping CampusGrotto's list of most expensive colleges for 2009-2010 is Sarah Lawrence College, located in Bronxville, a small town a few miles from New York City. A year at this school comes with a price tag of a whopping $54,410.

Second on the list from CampusGrotto is New York University. Part of NYU's cost can be attributed to the high price of housing in New York City - the total annual cost to attend NYU includes $13,507 in room and board expenses.

Washington, D.C.
The nation's capital is home to George Washington University, and we're willing to bet our founding fathers never dreamed an education would someday cost as much as it does today. In 2008, GWU was named the most expensive college in the world (based solely on tuition costs) by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The current cost, with room and board included, is $51,730.

However, this school may not be quite as painful on the pocketbook as it may seem. According to the College Board, the average GWU financial aid package is $36,215. Also in the Washington, D.C. area is Georgetown University, which lands at the #7 slot on CampusGrotto's list due to its annual cost of $51,122.

Lewiston, Maine
The second-largest city in Maine is home to Bates College, one of the oldest coed colleges in New England. Repeatedly ranked among the top liberal arts schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report (among other sources), Bates is known for its small class size, SAT-optional admissions policy and its ban on fraternities and sororities. The annual cost at Bates is $51,300. Considering the price tag, the average Bates grad leaves with a relatively small amount of debt - around $17,945, according to the College Board.

Saratoga Springs, New York
Located a few hours from New York City at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, this town is home to Skidmore College, a small liberal arts college. The school has an annual price tag of $51,196, but it claims to meet 100% of student financial need, according to the College Board.

Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins University - perhaps best known for its medical programs and namesake hospital facilities - is based in Baltimore. However, there are several other campuses, including one in Washington. The annual cost is $51,190.

New London, Connecticut
This small port city is home to Connecticut College, a small liberal arts college that emphasizes rigorous academic standards, diversity and creative development. The annual cost is $51,115 and about 45% of the student body receives financial aid, with the average award in the range of $29,000.

The Bottom Line
The colleges on this list are among the most expensive in the world, but also continuously rank high for academic excellence and other positive qualities. While the tuition figures may seem overwhelming, it's important to run the numbers and estimate the true costs, once all available financial aid is factored in. (Check out Top Colleges For Your Tuition Buck for more.)

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Unrelenting Claw Of Bernie Madoff.

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