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What Does it Cost to Attend Wellesley College?

Planning for the expense of a college education is not an easy feat. In fact, the high cost of a college degree can often make planning daunting from the very beginning. According to CNN, by 2016, an average family was paying $56,840 for a four-year degree from a public institution or $104,400 for a four-year degree from a private university. It’s no wonder that most families have to secure financial aid in order to help pay for a college education.


Another reason that budgeting for college costs is so difficult is because they are hard to predict. In this series of posts, we analyze over 1000 colleges to break down the costs of attending each one. In this post, we’ll discuss how much you can expect to pay to attend Wellesley College.

Why Are College Costs So Variable?

The primary reason that college costs vary so broadly is the sheer number of factors that impact them. Everything from the school, to the family, to the individual student will ultimately have an impact on the amount that a family pays out of pocket, but taking a closer look at some of these costs can help you to better understand them.


Usually the largest single contributing factor to how much a family pays for college is the college’s list price. This is the total amount that a family would pay for their student to attend without any aid, and it generally includes things like tuition, room and board, and any necessary fees. At certain schools with many commuter students, certain expenses like room and board may actually be excluded from this price, so be sure to confirm exactly what’s included when you compare list prices from one school to the next.


List price is a helpful starting point in predicting college costs, but few families actually pay the entire list price. In fact, according to according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of college students receiving financial aid reached 85% in 2016 and has only moved upward since then. For this reason, it can be more helpful to look at net cost. This is the amount that a family pays out of pocket after applying things like federal, state, and local aid, institutional aid, and merit scholarships. While net costs vary according to all the factors above, they can be a more useful datapoint when predicting college costs.

What is the List Price at Wellesley College?

The list price at Wellesley for the 2016-2017 school year was $65,966. As Wellesley is a private school, the list price is the same for all students regardless of their state of residence. That being said, few students actually pay the entire list price. The students who do pay list price tend to come from families with an income of $175k or more each year.

What is the Net Cost of Attending Wellesley College?

The average net cost of attending Wellesley after financial aid in 2016-2017 was $54,965. Again, its status as a private school means that this average accounts for both in-state and out-of-state students.


The average net cost of attending Wellesley for students not eligible for financial aid was the list price of $65,966.

What is the Net Cost Based on Income of Attending Wellesley College?

Family income is the largest factor to affect how much aid a family receives. Average net cost provides a glimpse into predicted expenses, but breaking down the net cost by income bracket can provide an even more useful perspective.


The average net cost based on family income of attending Wellesley College is as follows:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $8,357
$30,001-$48,000 $9,228
$48,001-$75,000 $12,581
$75,001-$110,000 $22,141
$110,000+ $42,274


How Much Merit Aid is Awarded at Wellesley College?

Wellesley is a highly selective school. It draws from a competitive applicant pool and all of those who ultimately get in tend to be exceptional students. As is typical of colleges with such a talented student body, merit aid is not awarded at Wellesley College. 0% of students receive it.

How Many Students Take out Loans to Attend Wellesley?

Taking out a loan to help fund an education at Wellesley is fairly common practice. In 2017, 57% of students at Wellesley had a federal loan as part of their college funding. The average federal student loan per undergraduate student was $2,323.

Student Outcomes

One way to gauge the value of an education is to look at long term expected outcomes. College is a significant expense, so thinking about it as an investment is a smart way to frame your perspective.


At Wellesley, 89% of students who begin a degree finish it within six years, and ten years after graduation, their average salary is $60,800.

Local Area Cost Considerations

Tuition and fees are only some of the costs that your family will encounter over the course of a four-year degree program. In addition, it’s inevitable that additional expenses will occur, and these will likely be affected by the local cost of living. Transportation costs, groceries, utilities, and even housing (should your student choose to live off campus) can really add up over the course of four years.


Wellesley College is located in Wellesley, MA, which is an affluent suburb of Boston. Its convenient and safe location so close to a large city makes it a very desirable place to live. The cost of living index in Wellesley is 287.8, meaning that it is nearly three times more expensive than the national average. Housing costs are the single biggest contributor to the cost of living in Wellesley, with homes nearly seven times more expensive than the national average. A student moving off campus could expect to pay $1413/month for a studio apartment or $1999/month for a two-bedroom.


The job market in Wellesley is fairly good. Unemployment is slightly lower than the national average, while projected job growth is slightly above. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $12/hr, set to increase to $15/hr in the next five years. The average hourly wage is above $20/hr.

Other Ways to Pay for College

Financial aid, loans, and work programs are just a few of the ways that families are able to piece together funding for college expenses. Scholarship programs can also be a significant contributor for many families if they know where to look.


The National Merit Scholarship Program is one of the largest in the country, so it is a good starting point for families looking into scholarship opportunities. To qualify under this program, students must be a high school junior taking the PSAT. Students who score in roughly the top 1% will be eligible for awards, and other students will also qualify through the National Hispanic Recognition Program or other special awards sponsored by corporations or individual colleges. To learn more about the program, check out our post How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.


Many other scholarship options exist, too. These can vary from large, national programs with huge pools of applicants to much smaller more specialized or localized programs. For more ideas on where to find scholarships that might be a great fit for your student, check out these CollegeVine posts:



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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.