Today’s College Costs

RISING COLLEGE COSTS have long been a major concern. How much might your family pay? Consider some numbers:

  • According to the College Board, it costs an average $24,030 in tuition, fees, food and housing to send a child to an in-state university for the 2023–24 academic year. Public university tuition has increased an inflation-adjusted 83% over the past 30 years.
  • For a private college, the average tab for 2023–24 is $56,190. Over the past 30 years, the cost has risen an inflation-adjusted 68%. Sound steep? At some elite private colleges, the cost is now around $80,000.
  • 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 outstanding. Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show education borrowing up 55% over the 10 years through 2023’s third quarter.
  • Among students graduating from public and private nonprofit colleges during the 2021–22 academic year, 51% had borrowed to pay for their bachelor’s degree. The average amount was $29,400, says the College Board.
  • During the 2022-23 academic year, grants accounted for 57% of financial assistance to undergraduates and graduates, federal loans 33%, nonfederal loans 6%, education tax breaks 4% 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 2023–24 academic year, the interest rate is typically 5.5%, up from 4.99% the year before.
  • What sort of income can college graduates expect? Check out the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, where you can learn median earnings by college and area of study. For further details on the “return on investment” from attending college, head to Georgetown University.

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