June 29, 2014

Private Colleges Have Gotten More Affordable

No, honestly, its true. I learned about this on Planet Money's show The Real Price Of College  

The actual net cost of tuition at private non-profit colleges has gone down over the past 10 years when accounting for inflation.   

The College Board has a nice chart with the data.

In the 2003-2004 school year the net cost of tuition was $13,600 on average and now for 2013-2014 its down to $12,460.   Both those figures are in 2013 dollars.

The published list price has instead gone up from $24,070 to $30,090 over the same period.   Net price and list price are quite different at private schools due to the hefty financial aid and scholarships that are often offered to a majority of students.

Of course this is all inflation adjusted dollars so another way to say it is that private tuition has not gone up as fast as inflation in the past decade.    The nominal cost in 2003 would have been about $10,700 so it has gone up in nominal terms.   But that $10,700 is worth $13,600 today because of 10 years of inflation.   So in today's dollars you're spending less out of pocket on average for tuition than you would have 10 years ago.


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