Colleges’ net prices drop as inflation outpaces average published tuition

Higher Ed Dive 

October 27, 2021
Rick Seltzer
Dive Brief:
  • Sticker prices for college tuition and fees again rose at historically low rates in the 2021-22 academic year, with increases averaging 2.1% or less across different sectors tracked in a pair of annual reports from the College Board.
  • Before taking inflation into account, average published tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates at public four-year colleges rose by 1.6% to $10,740. For in-district students at public two-year colleges, they increased by 1.3% to $3,800. Average tuition and fees for out-of-state students at public four-year colleges rose by 1.5% to $27,560, and for students at private nonprofit four-year colleges, they climbed by 2.1% to $38,070.
  • But after accounting for inflation, average published tuition and fees fell across all sectors. Average net prices — the amount students actually pay after factoring in grants and scholarships — also slipped slightly.
Dive Insight:
The new data on college pricing and student aid adds perspective to how shifts in the U.S. higher education landscape are unfolding.
“This year’s data underscore the significant impact COVID-19 has had on higher education,” Jessica Howell, College Board’s vice president for research, said in a statement.