Average Cost of Public and Private Colleges

Projected average cost (tuition, books, room and board) of four years at colleges and universities across the country. Assumes an inflation rate of 7% in college costs.

Average Tuition and Fee and Room and Board Charges by College Board Region and Sector, in 2012 Dollars, 2002-03 and 2012-13 (Enrollment-Weighted)

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The blue bars report 2002-03 prices and the orange bars report 2012-13 prices. In each bar, the darker segment corresponds to published tuition and fees and the lighter segment corresponds to room and board charges. The height of the entire bar reflects total tuition and fee and room and board charges.

Source: The College Board (2012-13 figures)

Notes & Sources
NOTE: Public two-year room and board charges are based on commuter housing and food costs. States and territories included in the regions are as follows: Middle States: DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, and PR; Midwest: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI, and WV; New England: CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, and VT; South: AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, and VA; Southwest: AR, NM, OK, and TX; West: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY.

SOURCE: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges.

Key Points

  • Average published tuition and fees for full-time students at public two-year colleges range from $2,241 in the West to $4,619 in New England in 2012-13.
  • Over the decade from 2002-03 to 2012-13, dollar increases in average public four-year tuition and fees ranged from $2,100 (in 2012 dollars) in the Middle States region to $4,874 in the West. Percentage increases ranged from 30% in the Middle States region to 126% in the West.
  • The percentage increase in public four-year college tuition and fees over the decade beginning in 2002-03 was over twice as large in the West as in New England, but the average published tuition and fee price in the West in 2012-13 was $2,289 lower than the price in New England.
  • The largest percentage increase in public two-year college tuition and fees over the decade beginning in 2002-03 was 82% in the West, which still has a lower published tuition and fee price than any other region in 2012-13.
  • Room and board charges at public four-year institutions are higher in the West than in other regions. The Middle States region had the highest average tuition, fees, and room and board combined in 2002-03, but the highest charges in 2012-13 are in New England.
  • The largest dollar gap between average 2012-13 tuition and fees at public two-year and public four-year institutions is $6,489 in the West, where the published price at two-year colleges is 26% of the price at public four-year colleges and universities. The smallest gap is $4,515 in the South, where the ratio is 42%.

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