(Bloomberg News) Maine's Bates College is the most expensive private, nonprofit college in the U.S., with its $51,300 price tag in 2009-2010 leading a new government list designed to hold schools accountable for costs.

The price for Bates, in Lewiston, Maine, included tuition, fees and room plus board. That was followed by Connecticut College in New London, which cost $51,115 for the same expenses and Vermont's Middlebury College, which charged $50,780, according to the list of college prices released today on a U.S. Department of Education website. The average tuition without room and board for private nonprofit colleges in 2009-10 was $21,324.

The department is publicizing colleges with the highest and lowest costs, as well as the fastest rising tuition, as part of 2008's U.S. Higher Education Opportunity Act. Universities are required to report their tuition and their average "net price," which includes the amount they give in financial aid, said David Bergeron, a deputy assistant secretary.

"For traditional families with students graduating high school, that information is going to be very helpful," Bergeron said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.

Bates doesn't break out its costs in separate components for tuition, meals and housing, said Roland Adams, a spokesman. The college offers financial aid to about 40 percent of its students and their average cost to attend is $20,897, placing the school 462 on the list of schools with the highest "net price," Adams said in a phone interview.

'Very, Very Expensive'

"It's very, very expensive to offer a liberal arts education of the extremely high quality that Bates offers," Adams said. "Bates has worked very hard at keeping its costs and growth in those costs as low as possible."

Counting tuition alone, Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, topped the government list of private nonprofit universities, charging $41,968 in 2009-2010.

Columbia University in New York was listed as the most expensive institution in the Ivy League, a group of eight private colleges in the Northeast. It charged $41,316 for tuition, not including room and board, in 2009-10, making it ninth-highest on the list of private nonprofit universities.

For 2010-2011, Columbia's total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, books room and board was $59,208, according to the university website.