Average Rates of Growth of Published Charges by Decade

The 2.9% one-year increase in average published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year institutions in 2013-14 was 0.9% after adjusting for inflation. This relatively small increase in prices means that despite very large annual increases earlier in the decade, tuition inflation between 2003-04 and 2013-14 was similar to that between 1983-84 and 1993-94.

Figure 4: Average Annual Percentage Increases in Inflation-Adjusted Published Prices by Decade, 1983-84 to 2013-14

Each bar in Figure 4 shows the average annual rate of growth of published prices in inflation-adjusted dollars over a 10-year period. For example, from 2003-04 to 2013-14, average published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges rose by an average of 2.3% per year beyond increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Notes & Sources 

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

  • When room and board are included, total charges at public four-year institutions rose more rapidly between 2003-04 and 2013-14 than they did during either of the two preceding decades.
  • The average annual rate of increase in inflation-adjusted tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities declined from 4.1% between 1983-84 and 1993-94 to 3.1% between 1993-94 and 2003-04, and to 2.3% over the most recent decade.
  • Percentage increases in average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges fluctuate widely, although dollar increases are always much smaller than those in other sectors. The 3.5% increase in 2013-14 translated into a 1.5% increase after adjusting for inflation, the smallest real increase since 2008-09 but a larger increase than in many earlier years.
  • Over the decade from 2002-03 to 2012-13, when published tuition and fees at public four-year institutions rose at an average rate of 5.2% per year beyond inflation, room and board charges increased by 2.6% per year, leading to a 3.8% average annual rate of growth in total charges.