Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit University in the U.S., is the second most expensive school in MONEY’s top 50 (only Columbia’s net price of a degree is higher). But one of the key reasons the school is so costly, its location in Washington D.C., is also one of its biggest draws, especially for students interested in studying politics or international relations. With a beautiful red brick campus on a bluff overlooking the Potomac—its flagship building is on the National Register of Historic Places—Georgetown frequently gets Washington’s elite to lecture or teach classes, recently including former CIA director George Tenet, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and veteran campaign strategist Donna Brazile. Distinguished alumni include Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former president Bill Clinton.
About 40% of students get scholarships from Georgetown to defray their costs. A small portion of those awards go to high-achieving athletes or students without regard to the family’s financial circumstances. Georgetown’s diplomas seem to pay off. Recent graduates report earning about $53,000 a year, roughly $4,000 more than the average reported by graduates of similar institutions.
Georgetown, which plays in Division I, fields 29 varsity teams, including its revered basketball team, which has gone to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament five times and won the championship once (1984). In one of the more head-turning traditions, students can attend screenings of "The Exorcist" each Halloween, and then walk to the scenes on campus where the movie was filmed, including the "Exorcist stairs" where the climax of the movie takes place.