Published Tuition and Fees Relative to 1985-86, by Sector

Between 1985-86 and 2001-02, average published tuition and fees increased by 74% in inflation-adjusted dollars in the public four-year sector, by 72% in the private nonprofit four-year sector, and by 52% in the public two-year sector. However, between 2001-02 and 2005-06, when average published tuition and fees increased by 10% in real terms in private nonprofit institutions, the price increased by 32% in public four-year institutions.

Figure 6: Inflation-Adjusted Published Tuition and Fees Relative to 1985-86, 1985-86 to 2015-16 (1985-86 = 1.0)

Figure 6 represents Inflation-Adjusted Published Tuition and Fees Relative to 1985-86, 1985-86 to 2015-16 (1985-86 = 1.0). For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, see http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing.

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: Figure 6 shows published tuition and fees by sector, adjusted for inflation, relative to 1985-86 published prices. For example, a value of 3.22 indicates that the tuition and fee price in the public four-year sector in 2015-16 is 3.22 times as high as it was in 1985-86, after adjusting for 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, IPEDS.

  • During the Great Recession, average public four-year published tuition and fees increased by 22% in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2008-09 and 2011-12, compared to 9% in the private nonprofit four-year sector.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, average published tuition and fees increased by 8% at public four-year institutions and by 10% at private nonprofit four-year institutions, after adjusting for inflation.