Recent Trends

This chart compares average undergraduate tuition and fees charged by about 600 U.S. public and 1,350 U.S. private, non-profit 4-year colleges during years from 1993 through 2004., both unadjusted and adjusted to the year 2004 by using the U.S. Consumer Price Index series. Data were not available for years 1994, 1995 and 1999.

During the 11-year period charted, both public and private, nonprofit colleges regularly posted tuition increases well above inflation rates. Peak increases for private colleges were in 1997, after the U.S. economy began booming growth. Peak increases for public colleges were in 2003, after state budgets supporting most of them were crimped by a sharp economic recession. Over this period, annual, inflation-adjusted tuition increases at public colleges averaged 4.0 percent, while those at private, non-profit colleges averaged 3.5 percent. Cumulative results over this period are average public tuitions growing 53 percent above inflation, and average private, nonprofit tuitions growing 47 percent above inflation. As of 2004, private, nonprofit colleges cost on average 3.3 times as much as public colleges attended by residents of their states.