10 Reasons College Costs So Much

College or Castle?
Check out the trendy dining area at the Illinois Institute of Technology. © Art on File/Corbis

Stepping onto a modern college campus can feel like wandering into a luxury resort. It starts with the dorms. Gone are the Soviet-era concrete towers and broom-closet rooms. Modern dorms ("residence halls," please) are architecturally appealing and organized into suite-style layouts with shared study areas and bathrooms. They feature cushy common spaces and all-night cafes, and every square inch is WiFi-accessible.

Then there's the food. If you graduated from college pre-2000, you probably subsisted on room-temperature pizza and burgers, a limp salad bar, and if you were really lucky, a self-serve frozen yogurt machine. The menus at today's campus dining facilities more closely resemble a trendy health-conscious restaurant than a college cafeteria. Campus eateries source fresh local produce, offer vegetarian (and even vegan) options, and feature flavorful international fare. On a typical Monday night at Michigan State University, students can choose between dinner options like coconut chicken curry and green bean tomato tagine.

Other expensive amenities include professional-grade athletic and fitness facilities — just try to attract students without a yogalates class —fully wired lecture halls and state-of-the-art labs. All of these high-ticket amenities add up, and somebody has to pick up the tab. Might as well be you.