The cost of a four-year education at most private universities is enough to make just about any student blanch. But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is proof that some of the schools with the highest price tag also represent a tremendous value.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees at MIT, located just outside of Boston, was $49,892. To cover room and board, students can expect to pony up another $14,720. That amounts to a hefty $64,612 annually, even before factoring books and personal expenses into the equation.

While those numbers look scary at first glance, it’s important to consider what students get in return. Ranked No. 5 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, MIT is widely regarded as one of the finest institutes of higher learning in the world.

Perhaps best known for its superb science, math and engineering, the 156-year-old school also offers business and economics programs that are among the most prestigious in the country. It also offers much more personal interaction than many universities, with a desirable 3:1 student-faculty ratio.

In other words, the university’s sticker price might be on par with the expensive Ivy League schools it competes against, but it certainly holds its own academically.

The combination of a superlative education program and the school's concentration on the sciences and related fields makes it no surprise that alumni typically enjoy great starting salaries once they graduate. According to the salary research firm PayScale, the average professional with an MIT diploma can expect an early-career salary of $84,300. Even with its hefty tuition costs, PayScale puts MIT at No. 3 among private U.S. colleges in terms of return on investment

Financial Aid

When looking at MIT’s tuition cost, it’s also worth considering the substantial financial aid that it doles out each year. It doesn’t hurt that the school, which educates roughly 11,300 undergraduate and grad students, has an endowment of more than $13 billion from which it can draw. 

According to the university, 56% of its students receive a need-based MIT scholarship, with an average award of $38,871. When other sources of need-oriented assistance are included, the average aid package jumps to $45,419. 

MIT is especially helpful to families making less than $90,000 a year. Consequently, 33% of the student body attends completely free of charge. So if you’re on the lower end of the economic spectrum but demonstrate excellent academic potential, don’t assume that an MIT education is out of reach. 

Here’s another important measure of the school’s financial aid: The average graduate has substantially less student-loan debt than the national average. 28% of MIT’s alumni have loans, with an average balance of $24,698 at graduation. By contrast, the average debt load across the country is $37,172 in 2017, according to Forbes. 

To qualify for assistance, MIT’s financial services department requires a completed FAFSA as well as the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. In most cases, parents will have to submit their most recent tax returns as well as any W2 forms to obtain consideration. 

International students are also eligible for aid in the form of scholarships, loans and work-study opportunities. However, unlike U.S. students, they can skip the FAFSA and submit only a CSS PROFILE and tax returns, if applicable. 

The Bottom Line

Even by private school standards, MIT’s base tuition cost is quite steep. But when you factor in the school’s generous financial aid and the future earning potential of its graduates, it might be one of the better deals in higher education today. For more information, see Top Colleges In Boston and 5 Ways To Get Maximum Student Financial Aid.

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