Cost of college remarkably stable « Gas station without pumps

August 13, 2012 at 7:13 am 6 comments

I’ve been meaning to link to this analysis for awhile.  Daphne Koller mentions in her TED video that costs of college are skyrocketing.  Actually, the cost has stayed pretty much the same.  The tuition has risen, because the cost is being shifted from the state to the student.

Note that the funding (tuition+state funding) has varied from a low of $10,200 in 1993 to a high of $12,766 in 2011($11,483 ± 11%).  There is fluctuation, but not much, and no clear trend.  Public college costs have been remarkably stable over the last 25 years.  What has changed is who pays those costs.  In 1986, about 23% of the funding was from tuition, and in 2011, about 43% of the funding was from tuition.  Essentially all the change in tuition can be attributed to differences in state funding.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dennisfrailey  |  August 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

    This doesn’t explain the rising tuition at private schools.

  • 2. mgozaydin  |  August 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Well. MITx and Harvardx is solution to high tuition.
    Top schools teaching the top courses at very low cost therefore they will also charge a small fee for only exams . I hope they will increase the number of courses offerred very quickly and also award degrees .
    That is the future. There is no reason not to award degrees once schools have very rigid exams

    • 3. Christopher David  |  August 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      You assume that degrees reflect simply making grades on exams. Many courses, especially those at the upper levels, involve much more than following lectures and testing. That’s exactly why many private schools are moving away from even giving credit for AP exams.

  • 4. alanone1  |  August 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The graphs are in constant dollars, so I calculate the compound annual increase at 0.7% over 25 years, which is just barely more than inflation.

    It would be interesting to contrast this with cost of housing, etc. in some way that would not be apples and oranges. Many students 25-50 years ago lived in very humble abodes (I favored basement “apartments” that were about $55-$75/month (in ca 1965 dollars)).



  • 5. David Karger  |  August 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    At private schools *sticker price* tuition is rising but *net* tuition is not. They’re charging rich families more so that they can give more financial aid to poorer families.

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