Costs of Higher Education in the U.S.

Higher education comes at a high price in the U.S. How high you might ask? From College Board for the 2018-2019 academic year the price of tuition and fees for in-state public 4-year institutions (undergraduate) averaged $10,230. That’s a pretty penny and that’s only one semester! As shown in the figure below, public 2-year institutions offer a cheaper alternative. Private nonprofit 4-year institutions, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum with an average of $35,830 per semester. College Board also notes, “The increases in the net prices that students actually pay, after taking grant aid and tax benefits into consideration, have been smaller over the long term than increases in published prices.”


On top of tuition and fees, students have to pay for boarding. From the College Board Trends in College Pricing report, the percentage of students that live on and off campus and with their parents vary by institution type. As shown in the figure below, a majority, 51%, of students at public two-year institutions live with their parents. From my personal experience, on campus housing has been more expensive that off campus housing. Of course off campus housing cost can vary widely depending on the cost of living for the college town. There are also important considerations such as the length of the lease. If you won’t be living in your off campus housing during the summer, finding a sublet can help lighten the financial load.


Overall, the costs of higher education in the U.S. are astonishing. And as the first figure shows, tuition has increased substantially over the past 30 years. Will these trends continue? Time will tell.

2 thoughts on “Costs of Higher Education in the U.S.”

  1. This is amazing. Tuition and other fees in Korea range between $3,000 and $5,000 per semester, but it still is a burden for the younger generation. I wonder how people cover the costs in the United States.


  2. Definitely shows the importance of community colleges! Your Grandpa Friga would be so proud of this article and you! Serving as a community college president for 10 years, he got to see the impact of having affordable opportunities to attend college for so many.


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