Getting a college degree has typically paved the way for a better economic future. Those with bachelor’s degrees typically earn 75% more over their lifetimes than they would have with only a high school diploma.
The price of that college degree has become more daunting by the year. The average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board for full-time students in the 2020-21 school year was $25,910.
While grants and scholarships offset the cost of college, many people finance their higher education through student loans, which has resulted in about 44 million Americans who are now paying off $1.7 trillion in student debt.
Sound Dollar examined data from the National Center for Education Statistics to see how college costs for private and public higher education institutions have changed between the 1963 and 2020 academic years, the latest data available. Tuition and fees were weighted by the number of full-time-equivalent undergraduates, while room and board are based on full-time undergraduate students.
Room and board accounts for student housing and meal plans. For public institutions, the in-district or in-state tuition was used. To account for inflation, amounts were calculated in today’s dollars using the Consumer Price Index.