College Costs Outpace Medical Inflation

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(Courtesy of eLearnnet.com)

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:

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