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College Tuition

College Tuition Inflation

disproportionate inflation

disproportionate inflation

Disproportionate Inflation

Disproportionate inflation refers to inflation in a particular economic sector that is substantially greater than inflation in general costs of living.  This type of inflation is directly addressable to the cost of college tuition and related fees. During the 30 year period from 1978 to 2008, the cost of living in the United States increased 2.5x, while college tuition and fees inflated 10x. In other words college tuition and fees inflated at 4 times the rate of cost-of-living. According to the College Board the average cost of tuition for a 4-year public college in 2008-2009 was $6,585 compared to 2004 where it was just above $5,000. The average cost of in-state tuition vs out-of-state tuition for 2008-2009 was $6,585/yr for an in-state 4-year college vs $17,452/yr for an out-of-state 4-year college.  The total cost (tuition, fees, books, room, food) of an in-state private college in the United States was roughly $54,446/yr for 2011. (College Data).

The rising debt problem

70% of all students cannot afford to pay tuition costs for the college they are attending.  It is no surprise that they have to turn to students loans, scholarship programs and private lenders to make their educational dreams come true.  Even though the debt of student loans increases, it seems to payoff because college educated workers wages have increased over the past two decades, while high school diploma educated workers have seen decreases in annual salaries in the same period.


Looking at the trend for inflation of college costs, higher education will continue to see explosive disproportionate inflation, outpacing other sectors of the economy. As inflation clips along at a disproportionate rate for college expenses, one has to ask, how will we provide the resources to help students achieve their education goals – so that we can continue to survive as a productive society?

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