Cost of College on the Rise (Again)

(iStockphoto)

The numbers are in on how much it costs to go to college this year, and (surprise) they’re up again, thanks largely to decreases in state funding and increasing enrollments. The biggest price hikes came in the public sector: An 8.7 percent increase for in-state tuition at public two-year schools, and an 8.3 percent jump in the price of four-year public institutions, for in-state students

If you remove California (which enrolls about 10 percent of the nation’s full-time public four-year college students), those numbers drop to 7.4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. That’s because California jacked its prices for public four-year colleges a whopping 21 percent this year. Hence the student protests last spring.

Here are the highlights:

  • Published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions average $8,244 in 2011-12, $631 (8.3 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $17,131, up 6.0 percent.
  • Published out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities average $20,770, $1,122 (5.7 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges are $29,657, up 5.2 percent.
  • Published in-state tuition and fees at public two-year colleges average $2,963, $236 (8.7 percent) higher than in 2010-11.
  • Published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities average $28,500 in 2011-12, $1,235 (4.5 percent) higher than in 2010-11. Average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $38,589, up 4.4 percent.
  • Published tuition and fees at for-profit institutions average an estimated $14,487 in 2011-12, 3.2 percent higher than in 2010-11.

There is a (very) small silver lining: the amount of available subsidies and tax credits have roughly doubled since 2007, from about $7 billion to an estimated $14.8 billion. Still, that’s not likely to change the fact that college is getting more expensive for most young Americans, just as its market value also rises, as Levitt points out. We’ve written a fair amount about the rising cost of college recently, and whether it’s worth it. We’ll let you be the judge. One thing, however, is not debatable: The price of college has steadily outpaced inflation over the last 30 years. The most recent hikes are right in line with previous increases:

 

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 19

View All Comments »
  1. Howard Tayler says:

    One of the econ professors from school (20+ years ago) made a big deal out of the fact that medical expenses, legal expenses, and higher education expenses have been outpacing inflation and cost-of-living, and they’ve been doing that while lots of other things have actually gotten cheaper.

    How do legal expenses look in the graph above? Also, is the correlation (assuming one exists) causal in nature? It seems logical — a career in medicine, law, or education requires a trip through the higher education system, after all.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  2. salt h2o says:

    What is the financial impact on CA tuition with the CA Government passing the Dream Act this past year?

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  3. Douglas W. Green, EdD says:

    Are we facing a college cost/college debt crisis and prices and debt spiral upward? Are we near the tipping point and what will happen when we get there? Will some colleges fail? Will our economy tank?
    Thanks. @DrDougGreen

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  4. Jim says:

    Is this growth fueled by the “subsidies and tax credits”?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0
  5. Bud says:

    These are two of the most inefficient, technology adverse industries in the country. No coincidence they outpace inflation.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
    • Mike B says:

      They aren’t adverse to technology, technology simply doesn’t exist that can adequately increase productivity. That’s like saying that writers are adverse to technology because they don’t use computer programs that auto-generate great novels. As someone who has had the misfortune to experience online classes I can tell you that there is simply no substitute at this time for a trained human being with a good deal of natural talent from standing in front of a small group of people for 3 hours a week and then being closely involved with their learning. Moreover as the skills that a well rounded person needs to succeed increase colleges have been forced to invest in providing those opportunities. College isn’t about getting people to pass standardized test, its about a highly personal experience, and unfortunately that sort of thing can’t, as of yet, be automated.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5
  6. scp says:

    “There is a (very) small silver lining: the amount of available subsidies and tax credits have roughly doubled since 2007, from about $7 billion to an estimated $14.8 billion. ”

    Umm… “silver lining”? If I have $100 that I’m willing and able to spend on education and Uncle Sam coughs up a $10 subsidy, how much am I now willing and able to pay? How much do you think the school is going to charge me? I’m betting $110. I think your silver lining is a trojan horse.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1
  7. EP says:

    The graph could be make more shocking by adding the cost of medical school.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. Joe J says:

    It seems fitting that I had also just read this statement on a different blog which may point to why college costs have been going up so much.

    “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the University of California’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned about the system’s financial crisis in July. Not quite to the bone. Heather Mac Donald writes:

    “The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.”

    It also noted another University shrinking and merging their Physics department while increasing the size of several diversity centers.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1