What's Behind Soaring College Costs and What You Can Do

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Since I first wrote on the increasing cost of a college education in 2011, has anything changed? The short answer is “no.” The cumulative increase in college tuition has been much higher than inflation over the past 40 years. Between 1980 and 2020, inflation rose 95% while the cost of an average college education rose 148%. A four-year degree that cost $50,000 in 1980 would cost $124,000 now.

Clearly, the cost of college continues to rise much faster than the cost of other goods and services. An August 13, 2023, article by Melanie Hanson at Education Data Initiative delved further into the numbers. Hanson also listed five factors that may contribute to the increase: