Trends in College Pricing 2016

Published December 1, 2016

In 2016-17, published tuition and fee prices rose slightly less than the year before. The rapid price growth observed during the Great Recession has abated, as typically happens when the economy recovers, but the rate of increase in tuition and fees continues to exceed inflation.

More notable, however, is the pattern of the net prices students actually pay. Large increases in grant aid and education tax credits cushioned the growth in published prices for a few years, and average net tuition and fee prices declined in the public and private nonprofit sectors in 2008-09 and 2009-10. But net prices have risen since then, as financial aid fails to keep pace with rising published prices. This increase is outpacing growth in incomes, fueling concerns about college affordability.

Trends in College Pricing 2016 reports on the prices charged by colleges and universities in 2016-17, how prices have changed over time, and how they vary within and across types of institutions, states, and regions. It also includes estimates of the net prices students and families pay after taking financial aid into consideration. Data on institutional revenues and expenditures and on changing enrollment patterns over time supplement the data on prices to provide a clearer picture of the circumstances of students and the institutions in which they study.