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What Does it Really Cost to Attend Williams College?

Simply put, college is an investment in your child’s future. Like any investment, there is a cost, and when it comes to a college education these are most notably time and money. And with any investment, there is the expectation to see a return. Consequently, price is an important consideration for many families when comparing colleges.


When it comes to understanding the cost of college, a common misstep is to use the institution’s list price as an indicator of how much a family will pay. Most families, in fact, will not pay the list price. Although the published price is handy for getting an idea of some anticipated expenses, net cost is the preferred metric as it accounts for factors like financial aid and scholarships to paint a clearer picture of the real cost of college.


This cost is highly variable and any number of elements can affect what a student will pay for a given school. Federal, state, and local aid, in addition to institutional financial aid and merit scholarships, can all affect the total cost of college. In fact, when comparing colleges, you might discover that a college with a higher published price ends up costing your family less than a school with a lower published price due to factors ranging from a more generous aid package to a lower cost of living.


Thinking about applying to Williams College? If so, keep reading to learn what it costs to attend there. And make sure to read our blog The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Williams College!  

Williams College’s List Price

The list price for Williams College for the academic year of 2016-2017 was $68,430 for tuition, room, and board, and applies to both in- and out-of-state students, putting it in the upper echelon of schools when ranked by cost. It’s important to note that most students do not pay the published price for college. The typical student paying full price at Williams is someone from a family with an income of more than $175,000 a year. The average net price for Williams College for a student who doesn’t qualify for financial aid is indeed the list price of $68,430.


Despite the high sticker price, Williams College was ranked #1 Best Value School in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category by US News—a ranking based on a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of need-based financial aid.

Financial Aid Net Price

Financial aid net price is the calculation of the list price of college minus any financial aid the student may receive; consequently, it presents a more accurate representation of the real cost of college. The average net cost with financial aid for both in- and out-of-state students at Williams College is $56,418—more than $12,000 less than the listed price. The cost of attending Williams College will vary greatly depending on the income level of the student’s family. Below is a look at the average net price of Williams based on family income:


  • Income below $30,000: $1,910
  • Income between $30,001-$48,000: $3,871
  • Income between $48,001-$75,000: $10,448
  • Income between $75,001-$110,000: $16,899
  • Income greater than $110,000: $42,003 

Merit Aid Net Price

Like many other selective top-ranked schools, Williams College offers no merit-based scholarships—with admission to Williams highly sought after, the college doesn’t need to entice students to attend. This means that students with no financial needs will pay the list price of $68,430.


In a rating of over 1,000 schools analyzed by CollgeVine, Williams placed on the low-end of merit aid generosity—ranking 934th. This is fairly common for prestigious schools like Williams, due to the comprehensiveness of their need-based assistance.

Student Loans and Debt

Student loans are how many students pay in part for college. 41% of students at Williams College have student loans with the average federal student loans per undergraduate student being $2,503. Williams College expressly says that they don’t expect students to borrow more than $4,000 a year, though some families may opt to do so.


Students attending Williams can anticipate a positive return on their college investment. 93% of students graduate within six years and the average salary for a graduate of Williams College after ten years is $59,000, which is almost double the average per capita income of both a Williamstown resident ($33,198) and residents of the state of Massachusetts as a whole ($31,177).

Local Area Cost of Living Considerations

Cost of living index is a general measurement accounting for the expense of everyday life—including costs such as housing, transportation, utilities, and groceries—and is a helpful tool for judging the price of living in a particular region.


With a cost of living index of 109, Williamstown, Massachusetts, is a slightly more expensive place to live (9% more to be exact) than the national average. However, by Massachusetts standards, Williamstown is quite affordable, as the state’s overall index is 139.

Average Apartment Rental

Williams College is a residential college and believes in creating a community by having students live on campus. Consequently, students are expected to live on campus for the first three years. However, due to the fluctuating number of students and the number of available beds, the college will allow a small number of seniors to live off campus (the number is capped at 125 students for 2018-2019). These students must apply to be released from their housing and must meet certain qualifying criteria to be approved.


Students living off campus can expect to pay $843 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Williamstown, while two-bedroom apartments fetch $1,048 a month. Expect prices to vary depending on a host of factors.

Local Wages

The minimum wage in Massachusetts rose to $12 an hour on January 1, 2019, which is considerably more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and can help keep students from racking up extra debt due to everyday living expenses. Students taking on part-time retail jobs should expect to make near the minimum wage, Indeed estimates the average hourly wage of retail associates to be $11.93 over the past 36 months. Students with paid internships can expect to make roughly $14.10 per hour, which is 10% better than the national average.


On-campus employment is one way in which Williams students can contribute to paying for school. Almost all students receiving financial aid at Williams are offered the chance to work on campus. Proving the point, the college employs 1,400 students per academic year who collectively work more than 170,000 hours.


Williamstown is also just a short drive from tourist town North Adams, which offers a host of part-time employment opportunities.

Other Ways to Save

Williams College offers a variety of grants and scholarships that can further help students save on the cost of college. The Williams Grant is awarded based on financial need and covers 85% of the average financial aid package. All Williams students who qualify for financial aid also receive a Williams Book Grant which covers the cost of all required textbooks, course packets, and studio art fees.


While Williams doesn’t offer merit-based aid, there are other way for your student to turn their stellar achievements into cash for college. Scholarships and prizes awarded by private organizations are another great way for Williams College students to offset the cost of college.  Any outside scholarship awarded to a student will be used to replace the student loan portion of the financial aid package. If the student loan is eliminated and funds remain, the job portion of the award would be replaced, followed by the student’s standard summer contribution.


A popular nonprofit-hosted scholarship is the prestigious National Merit Scholarship. All high school juniors (and traditional or homeschooled students in the equivalent year) who take the PSAT are eligible to earn scholarships based on their test scores.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.