Today’s College Costs

RISING COLLEGE costs have become a major concern. How much might your family pay? Consider some numbers:

  • According to the College Board, it cost an average $21,950 in tuition, fees, room and board to send a child to an in-state university for the 2019–20 academic year. Even after subtracting out the inflation rate, that represents a 1.9% annual increase over the past 10 years.
  • For a private college, the average tab for 2019–20 was $49,870. That tab has increased at 1.8% a year over the past 10 years, over and above inflation. Sound steep? At some elite private colleges, the cost is now more than $65,000.
  • Some have contended the real cost hasn’t climbed nearly as fast as the sticker price, thanks to financial aid. Still, as published college costs have increased, so too have education loans. Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show education borrowing up 110% over the 10 years through year-end 2019.
  • Among students graduating from public and private nonprofit colleges during the 2017–18 academic year, 58% had borrowed to pay for their bachelor’s degree. The average amount was $29,000, says the College Board.
  • During the 2018-19 academic year, grants accounted for 52% of financial assistance to undergraduates and graduates, federal loans 36%, education tax breaks 6%, nonfederal loans 5% and work study 0.4%, according to College Board data.
  • How much debt do college students graduate with? Check out this interactive map, which allows you to look at averages by state and by individual colleges.
  • For undergraduates who take out federal loans during the 2020–21 academic year, the interest rate is typically 2.75%, down from 4.53% the year before.
  • Want to see more stats? Check out the slew of numbers compiled by

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