The nation’s colleges and universities hiked tuition and other prices yet again this year, continuing a decadeslong practice of raising them above the rate of inflation as higher education becomes less and less affordable.
Tuition, fees, and room and board at private nonprofit colleges rose 2.6 percent on average, when adjusted for inflation, to $45,370 this academic year, according to a report released on Wednesday by the College Board. In-state students at four-year public colleges saw costs climb 1.8 percent, to $20,090—the first time they’ve topped $20,000 after adjusting for inflation, according to data dating to 1971, maintained by the administrator of the SAT exam.
Prices at private and public colleges this year didn’t rise as sharply as they had previously, though for private schools, this year’s price hike is higher than their roughly 45-year average.
Families and lawmakers are increasingly worried about mounting student debt burdens and the possibility that middle-income Americans may soon be priced out of college—despite tens of billions of dollars in aid from schools, government agencies, and other providers. Public four-year colleges, which are funded by state taxpayers specifically to provide a low-cost option, have more than doubled their tuition and fees on average over the past 20 years in response to funding cuts from state lawmakers.