Average Rates of Growth of Published Charges by Decade

In both the public four-year and the private nonprofit four-year sectors, the inflation-adjusted rate of increase in published tuition and fee prices was lower over the most recent decade, from 2004-05 to 2014-15, than over either of the preceding two decades.

Figure 5: Average Annual Percentage Increase in Inflation-Adjusted Published Prices by Decade, 1984-85 to 2014-15

Figure 5 represents Average Annual Percentage Increase in Inflation-Adjusted Published Prices by Decade, 1984-85 to 2014-15. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, see http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing.

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: Each bar in Figure 5 shows the average annual rate of growth of published prices in inflation-adjusted dollars over a 10-year period. For example, from 2004-05 to 2014-15, average published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges rose by an average of 2.2% per year beyond increases in the Consumer Price Index. Average tuition and fee prices reflect in-district charges for public two-year institutions and in-state charges for public four-year institutions.

SOURCES: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges; NCES, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Because the unusually rapid increases in the middle of the decade were more than offset by small price increases since 2012-13, average published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased less rapidly between 2004-05 and 2014-15 than over the two preceding decades.
  • The average annual inflation-adjusted increase in published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions declined from 4.0% to 3.0% to 2.2% over the three decades from 1984-85 to 2014-15.
  • The rapid increase in tuition and fees at public two-year colleges between 1984-85 and 1994-95, followed by two decades of more moderate increases, has yielded an average annual growth rate of 3.1% per year beyond inflation in this 30-year period.
  • Over the 30 years from 1984-85 to 2014-15, average published tuition and fees at private four-year institutions rose by 146%, from $12,716 (in 2014 dollars) to $31,231. The average published price at public two-year colleges rose by 150%, from $1,337 to $3,347, and the increase for in-state students at public four-year institutions was 225%, from $2,810 to $9,139.