Graph of the Week: Annual Rise in Cost of Attending College vs. Other Large Family Expenditures


It is constantly reported that the price of attending college is rising.  In a time when inflation has been prevalent, what does that actually mean?  To put the cost of higher education in perspective, compare it to two of the other important expenses we face: medical care and housing.  Between 1987 and 2008, the cost of healthcare increased by 5.0% per year on average and the cost of housing increased by 5.1% per year on average.  During the same time period, college tuition and fees increased an average of 7.0% each year.


Increasingly, families, after exhausting federal loans, scholarships, and grants, still face a gap in financing for college.  These families must find ways to cover this gap with savings and private student loans.  Due to the credit crisis and securitization market dislocation, many traditional lenders have retreated from student lending markets.  This summer, demand for fair value student loans will be significantly greater than the supply of these loans, leaving families with a funding crisis.  However, there is new hope for some families that face this critical challenge.  In the past 14 months, over 100 credit unions have stepped into the private student lending market to ensure their members can go to college.




July 27, 2009


  • BVeAEo
  • The data shows the annual increase in College Tuition and Fees. ie. primarily just room and board paid directly to the school. It doesn't take into account total costs of attendance (increases in books, travel expenses, "lifestyle" or other amenities, etc). It also only measures annual costs, not total costs in attaining a degree. It is a reasonable apples-to-apples benchmark of the relative rise in the costs associated with attending college today versus X years ago.
  • There does not seem to be a context. Historically, "college" meant pursuit of a degree w/in a time constraint, i.e. Bachelors degree = 4 yrs, etc. Plus, so many "amenities" have been added that it seems that "college" now refers to a life style and not simply the pursuit of higher ed.
    Mick Brogan