Education is one of the most important investments that individuals make in their lives. It not only provides knowledge and skills but also helps in building a solid foundation for future success. However, obtaining a college degree comes with a significant financial burden that can be daunting for many families.
In recent years, college tuition and fees have increased substantially, leading to an ongoing debate about the affordability of higher education in the United States. 4 in 10 students rate cost as the most critical factor when deciding to pursue further education. Hence, Manaferra’s research team will explore the current state of college affordability by analyzing data and trends on the average cost of college in the US.
Average Tuition Cost for Public Colleges
Average Tuition Cost for Private Colleges
Average College Tuition by State
College Tuition Over the Years
Some of the Most Expensive College Degrees
Tuition-Free Community Colleges
Calculate Your Costs of Studying in the US
The average tuition cost for public colleges in the United States varies depending on the type of institution and its location. Public colleges are typically funded by state and local governments, and as a result, they tend to be less expensive than private colleges.
However, the cost of attending a public college can still vary widely depending on whether the institution is a 2-year or 4-year one, whether the student lives on or off-campus, and whether the student qualifies for financial aid.
The average cost for attending a 4-year institution on-campus is $25,707, while for a 2-year institution on-campus, you have to pay an average of $15,862. This indicates attending a 4-year college will cost you 38.2% more than attending a 2-year college.
Living off-campus with family is generally less expensive than living on-campus or off-campus independently. According to data, the average cost of attending a 4-year college off-campus while living with family is $14,949, 41.8% lower than the on-campus cost: mainly because students living with their families usually don’t have to pay for housing or meals, which are often the most expensive components of attending college.
Cost of public institutions tuition based on living arrangements
The data shows that the average cost of attending a 4-year public institution on-campus has remained relatively stable over the past four years, ranging from $25,590 in 2017-2018 to $25,707 in 2020-2021. It also indicates that the cost of attending on-campus has remained relatively high over the past few years.
The average total cost of attending 4-year public institutions in the United States from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021
Students who live off-campus with family tend to pay significantly less than those who live on campus or off-campus without family. For example, the average cost of attending a 4-year public institution off-campus while living with the family was $14,949 in 2020-2021, compared to $25,707 for on-campus living.
The average total cost of attending a 4-year public institution off-campus without family was $25,972 in 2020-2021, slightly higher than the on-campus cost ($25,707). This may be since off-campus living expenses, such as rent and utilities, can be high.
The average total cost of attending 2-year public institutions in the United States from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021
The average cost of attending a 2-year public institution off-campus while living with the family was $9,666 in 2020-2021, 39% lower than $15,862 for on-campus living. This highlights the potential cost savings of living with family, highlighting the potential cost savings of living with family.
Private colleges are educational institutions not funded by the government but rather by private sources such as donations, tuition fees, and endowments. They often have smaller class sizes and offer more personalized attention to students.
The average tuition cost for private colleges is generally higher than that of public colleges due to their funding model and the higher cost of providing a more personalized education. However, private colleges may offer more financial aid and scholarship opportunities to offset the higher tuition costs.
The average cost of attending private non-profit institutions in the United States, based on the student’s living arrangement and school type
The average cost of attending a private non-profit institution on-campus was $54,501 for 4-year schools and $33,270 for 2-year schools, about twice as high as the on-campus cost of attending public institutions.
The average cost of attending a private non-profit institution off-campus while living with the family was $23,741 for 2-year schools and $43,165 for 4-year schools in 2020-2021.
The average cost of attending private for-profit institutions in the United States, based on the student’s living arrangement and school type
The average cost of attending a private for-profit institution on-campus was $33,528 for 4-year schools in 2020-2021. This indicates that for-profit institution tuition cost is 38.4% lower than non-profit institutions but 30.4% higher than public institutions.
For private non-profit four-year institutions, the average total cost for on-campus living arrangements remained relatively stable over the years, ranging from $53,504 in 2017-2018 to $54,501 in 2020-2021, while the off-campus living costs also remained consistent, ranging from $42,505 in 2017-2018 to $43,165 in 2020-2021.
For private non-profit two-year institutions, the average total cost for on-campus living arrangements decreased 3.5% from $34,507 in 2017-2018 to $33,270 in 2020-2021, and the off-campus living costs ranged from $24,777 in 2017-2018 to $23,741 in 2020-2021, marking a decrease of 4.1%
The average total cost of attending private institutions in the United States from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021
There is a wide variation in college costs across different states and jurisdictions. The average cost of attending an in-state public four-year college ranges from $14,584 in Wyoming to $30,752 in Vermont. On the other hand, the cost of attending a private four-year college ranges from $15,180 in Idaho to $65,784 in Massachusetts.
Average College Tuition by State
The average cost of attending a private college is higher than that of an in-state public college, except in Arizona and Idaho, where the average cost of attending an in-state public four-year college is around 8% higher than that of a private four-year college.
In New Hampshire, the average cost of in-state public college is $29,222 whereas attending a private 4-year college costs $29,103. This leaves only a 0.4% difference between the in-state public college tuition and the private 4-year college cost.
In California, the average cost of attending a private four-year college is $53,680, while an in-state public four-year college costs $24,015.
In-State vs. Out-of-State College Tuition
By comparing the costs of attending a 4-year public institution for in-state and out-of-state students, it is clear that out-of-state students pay significantly more than in-state students. This is consistent with providing subsidies to state residents to attend public institutions in their own state.
The highest cost for in-state students is $30,752 per year in Vermont, while the lowest is in Wyoming, $14,584 per year. As for out-of-state colleges, the most expensive is again in Vermont, with $41,963 per year, while the lowest is in South Dakota, where the cost is $12,924.
The highest cost for 2-year in-state students is in South Dakota, which is $7,326 per year, while the lowest is in California, which costs $1,285. For out-of-state students, the highest cost is in Tennessee, which is $17,013 per year, while the lowest is in Nebraska, $3,956 per year.
The education cost has greatly increased over the years. For example, in 1963-64, the total cost of attending a four-year institution was $1,286; in 2020-21, it was $29,033, an increase of 2160%. Similarly, the cost of attending a two-year institution increased by 1433% from $775 to $11,885 during the same period.
We can also clearly see from every year included that the expense of attending four-year institutions has consistently been higher than that of two-year institutions.
College tuition over the years
Here is a list of the ten most expensive college degrees:
Ten most expensive college
Tuition-free community colleges, also known as “free college” programs, have gained popularity in recent years by providing more affordable access to higher education. These programs typically cover tuition costs for eligible students based on income or academic qualifications.
The idea is to remove financial barriers that may prevent students from pursuing postsecondary education and equip them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the workforce. Here are some tuition-free community colleges:
Many universities and colleges in the United States offer an online tool called “Calculate Your Costs” to help prospective students estimate their study expenses.
This tool considers various factors such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. It provides an estimated cost of attendance for one academic year. This feature can be handy for international students who may not be familiar with the cost of living in the United States.
By using the “Calculate Your Costs” tool, students can better plan and prepare for the financial aspects of their education and determine if they will need to apply for financial aid or scholarships to help cover their expenses.
Here are two possible choices: