How Fast Are College Costs Rising?

The law of gravity unfortunately does not seem to apply to college costs. Administrative spending, operating costs and government subsidy reductions all contribute to rising college costs. The following article examines the rate at which college costs are rising.

Rising College Costs

From 1971 to 2016, college tuition and fees rose 375% for public four-year in-state schools, according to the 2015-2016 report by the College Board ( To understand rising college cost trends, one needs to look at both public and private institutions.

Important Facts About College Programs

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Fields of Study Computer science, cognitive science, arts management, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, neuroscience, theatre
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon intended institution of enrollment; most associate and bachelor degree programs require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Online Availability Fully
Median Salary (2018) $84,280 (for all computer programmers
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -7% decline (for all computer programmers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Colleges and Universities

A 2010 article in U.S. News & World Report stated that the costs to attend a public college or university rose more than 6% from the 2006-2007 school year to the 2010-2011 school year. BusinessWeek magazine reported that costs at public colleges and universities rose 11% from 2007-08 to 2008-09. FinAid, a public service web site for financial aid information, estimates that college costs rise an average of 5% to 8% yearly (

Private Colleges and Universities

An October 2008 article in BusinessWeek reported that college costs at public colleges and universities rose faster than those of private institutions over the previous year. Still, college costs rose 4.3% at 350 private, not for-profit colleges in 2009, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Though this increase is reported to be the lowest in over 30 years, it is still higher than the rate of inflation.

State-by-State Basis

The 2015-2016 tuition rates reported by CollegeBoard showed that at flagship universities, in state tuitions ranged anywhere from a decline of 5% at the University of Texas to an increase of 54% at the University of Tennessee since the 2010-11 academic year.

In that same report, CollegeBoard stated that public 4-year schools in the New England area had the highest average tuition and fees at $12,007 and the South with the lowest at $8,709. Public 2-year schools have a much lower cost overall, with the highest tuition at $5,025 in the New England region and the lowest rates in the West at $2,449.

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