Report: Cost Of College In 2016-2017 Continues To Rise

by TeachThought Staff

It’s a common refrain: The cost of college is high and getting higher.

How much higher?

A report (from SAT creator) CollegeBoard suggests that the price is going up everywhere, but the gap between public and private universities is changing.

In the full report, “Trends in College Pricing 2016,” survey data for published pricing shows that the cost of college for the 2016-2017 school year was up over 300% since the 1986-1997 school year. The average cost per semester for private institutions for 2016-2017 was $33,479.

For public four-year universities, the cost was $9,468.

The cost continues to rise, even when adjusted for inflation, as the CollegeBoard figure shows below.

The Cost Of Public Versus Private Institutions

A less reported point is the differences in the rate of change between public and private institutions. Private institutions continue to be markedly more expensive than public, and the rate of increase has been relatively consistent between the two over the last five years, with private, four-year schools up 13% over the last five years while public four-year schools are up only 9%.

But a different message emerges when looking backing a full 10 years, where the data shows a marked slowing of tuition increase for public institutions compared to the previous 5-year period, where prices were up 29%, compared to only 13% for four-year private schools.

The broadest takeaway might be that the cost is, simply, high, and K-12 might consider shifting the argument from college for everyone to college as an investment, with potential benefits and costs considered like a business proposition.

The average year-over-year increase? Around 3%.

Other data points include:

  • In 2016-17, the average published tuition and fee price of $33,480 at private nonprofit four-year institutions is $8,550 (34%) higher than the average public four-year out-of-state price. Average published charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $10,000 (28%) higher in the private sector.
  • In 2016-17, the average published tuition and fee price of $3,520 at public two-year colleges is 36% of the average in-state public four-year price.
  • The estimated $16,000 average tuition and fee price for full-time students enrolled in for-profit institutions in 2016-17 is about 4.5 times as high as the average price at public two-year colleges and 1.7 times as high as the average in-state price at public four-year institutions.

You can read the full report at

Report: Cost Of College In 2016-2017 Continues To Rise