Cheaper Alternatives to America's Top Colleges

BOSTON (TheStreet) — Choosing the right college can be extremely stressful. Students must look at many factors, including the location of the school, the programs offered and, most importantly, the cost of tuition.

U.S. News and World Report recently released its annual ranking of American colleges for 2010. Top-tier colleges are often among the most expensive, but there are many strong alternatives that cost less.

Expensive: Union College
Tuition and fees: $42,042
Room and board: $10,287
Total: $52,329

Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., has 30 degree programs in 37 academic departments, and most undergraduate students major in social sciences such as anthropology, political science and economics. With only 2,168 undergraduates and a student-faculty ratio of 10 to one, this school offers small classes for students who prefer a more intimate learning environment.

Union College was No. 43 among liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report, and in 2009 had an acceptance rate of 41%. A year at Union College costs undergraduate students more than $50,000, not including the cost of books and extra living expenses, which Union projects to cost more than $1,000 each year.

Cheaper: Roger Williams University

Tuition and fees: $28,700
Room and board: $12,290
Total: $40,990

Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., offers 40 majors. The student body is made up of about 4,000 undergraduates and the acceptance rate is around 60%. The college ranks seventh among baccalaureate colleges in the northern U.S. by U.S. News and World Report. On average, the total cost to attend Roger Williams is about $40,000 about $12,000 less than Union College. Eighty percent of students at Roger Williams receive financial aid and the median financial aid package is $20,100.

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