Data analysis done by Steven Syre at The Boston Globe has revealed that the actual cost of attending Harvard (with financial aid factored in) is considerably lower than it initially appears. Of the 14 private colleges in Mass. that Syre surveyed, he found that though all have sticker prices around $55,000, Harvard's average actual price—$28,979—was the lowest of the pack.

MIT had the second-lowest average cost of attendance, and Syre attributed MIT's and Harvard's financial aid packages to the fiscal flexibility that comes from having such large endowments. Tufts University weighed in as the most expensive school in the survey, with an average actual cost of $43,797.