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Published or Sticker Prices

Across all sectors, published prices rose much more slowly from 2014-15 to 2019-20 than in the preceding five years.

  • From 2018-19 to 2019-20, tuition and fees increased less than 4% across all sectors before adjusting for inflation.
  • From 1989-90 to 2019-20, average tuition and fees tripled at public four-year and more than doubled at public two-year and private nonprofit four-year institutions, after adjusting for inflation.

One Price Doesn't Fit All

Published college prices vary widely, depending on the type of institution and where it's located.

  • Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, average 2019-20 in-district tuition and fees range from $1,430 in California to $8,210 in Vermont.
  • Average 2019-20 in-state tuition and fees range from $5,580 in Wyoming to over $17,000 in Vermont.

Net Prices

Over 70% of full-time undergraduate students receive grant aid that helps them pay for college.

  • At public two-year, public four-year and private nonprofit four-year institutions, the estimated 2019-20 average net tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students are higher than they were for 2009-10.
  • In 2015-16, more than half of full-time students at public two-year institutions and more than a quarter of full-time students at public four-year institutions received enough grant aid to completely cover their tuition and fees.
  • In that same academic year, full-time students were more likely to pay less than $5,000 in net tuition and fees at private nonprofit institutions than at for-profit institutions.

Family Income

The income gap between families with the lowest and highest incomes is growing.

  • From 1988 to 2018, families with incomes in the bottom 20% saw their incomes rise 12%, compared to income increases of 51% for families in the top 20%.

Institutional Finances

2017-18 was the sixth year in a row that state and local funding per student increased after four years of decline.

  • In 2011-12, funding per student was $6,440 (in 2017 dollars).
  • In 2017-18, funding per student was $7,850.


In recent years, enrollment at public two-year and for-profit institutions has been declining.

  • In fall 2017, 127,000 fewer students enrolled at public two-year colleges than enrolled in fall 2015. That’s a decline of 2%.
  • For the same years, about 247,000 fewer students enrolled at for-profit institutions. That’s a decline of 18%.

To find out more about any of the highlighted data, visit our resource library or download the full Trends in College Pricing 2019 report.