Background

Every year, the Col­lege Board releas­es its Trends in Col­lege Pric­ing and Trends in Stu­dent Aid reports that high­light cur­rent col­lege costs and trends in finan­cial aid. While costs can vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly depend­ing on the region and col­lege, the Col­lege Board pub­lish­es aver­age cost fig­ures, which are based on its sur­vey of near­ly 4,000 col­leges across the country.

Fol­low­ing are cost high­lights. Total cost fig­ures include tuition and fees, room and board, and a sum for books, trans­porta­tion, and per­son­al expens­es. Togeth­er, these expen­di­tures are offi­cial­ly referred to as the “total cost of attendance.”

Public colleges (in-state students)

  • Tuition and fees increased an aver­age of 2.9% to $9,139 
  • Room and board increased an aver­age of 3.2% to $9,804
  • Total aver­age cost* for 2014/2015: $23,410 ($22,826 in 2013/2014)

Public colleges (out-of-state students)

  • Tuition and fees increased an aver­age of 3.3% to $22,958
  • Room and board increased an aver­age of 3.2% to $9,804 
  • Total aver­age cost* for 2014/2015: $37,229 ($36,136 in 2013/2014)

Private colleges

  • Tuition and fees increased an aver­age of 3.7% to $31,231 
  • Room and board increased an aver­age of 3.4% to $11,188 
  • Total aver­age cost* for 2014/2015: $46,272 ($44,750 in 2013/2014)

Keep in mind that these are aver­age cost fig­ures. The total cost for the most selec­tive pri­vate col­leges is sub­stan­tial­ly higher–over $60,000 per year.

Debt trends

For the Class of 2013, about 7 in 10 stu­dents grad­u­at­ed with an aver­age of $28,400 in loans (Source: The Insti­tute for Col­lege Access and Suc­cess, Stu­dent Debt and the Class of 2013, Novem­ber 2014). This com­pares to $27,850 for the Class of 2012. About one-fifth of the Class of 2013’s debt con­sist­ed of pri­vate loans, which typ­i­cal­ly offer few­er repay­ment options than fed­er­al stu­dent loans.

The report went on to note: “For many 2013 grad­u­ates, their col­lege years came dur­ing a time of increas­ing col­lege costs and stag­nant fam­i­ly resources. State bud­get cuts led to sharp tuition increas­es at many pub­lic col­leges, increas­ing stu­dents’ need to borrow.…Multiple fac­tors influ­ence aver­age col­lege debt lev­els, such as endow­ment resources avail­able for finan­cial aid, stu­dent demo­graph­ics, state poli­cies, insti­tu­tion­al finan­cial aid pack­ag­ing poli­cies, and the cost of liv­ing in the local area.”

How­ev­er, the report also not­ed the strong employ­ment and earn­ings prospects for those with col­lege degrees com­pared to adults with only a high school education.