The U.S. Department of Education this week unveiled what may be one of the Department’s few publications of real interest to the general public: its list of most expensive colleges in the country. As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan puts it, “Its real purpose is to keep us up-to-date on who to make fun of.”

Well America will not be disappointed. Topping the list this year is the $51,300 a year Bates College. Next up is the $51,115 Connecticut College. That’s followed by Middlebury College, which costs $50,780 a year.

These East Coast liberal-arts schools are no surprise. Most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean most prestigious, however. The sixth most expensive college in America, for instance, is Sanford-Brown College, which costs $45,628 a year. That’s more expensive than Columbia.

You’ve never heard of Sanford-Brown? Well that’s because it’s a for-profit college that only dates from the 1970s. It specializes in things like allied health, cardiovascular sonography / technology, diagnostic medical sonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and radiography. One might hope that for $45,000 these are really good programs in magnetic resonance imaging or whatever.

Well, not really. According to testimony a Sanford-Brown graduate gave to Congress last year, the college is essentially a scam. In 2007 former students sued the company, alleging that Sanford-Brown “engaged in aggressive and misleading recruiting tactics and… the nature of its curriculum, training, and faculty.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer