College costs twice as much as it did 10 years ago

Earlier today, I started to wonder how expense it has become to go to college these days. As Mona and I were chatting, we conjectured that the increases were tiny if we were to consider cumulative inflation over the same period.

Best way to find out was to dig into the data, so here we go:

Chart 1: Tuition fees data from Virginia Tech & UC Berkeley


Well, it is pretty interesting to see that VT increased its In-state tuition from $2537 in 2003 to $5254 in 2011; an increase of 107%.

During the same period UC Berkeley went from $2928 in 2003 to $6696 in 2011; clocking a whopping increase of 128%.

Chart 2: Wondering what the percentage increases were year over year ?


Chart 2 reveals a sudden spike of 27% in UC Berkeley in-state tuition due to the State of California going bankrupt, and the reduction of state support to the institute.

On average though, both programs saw double digit % increases at the start of the decade and sustained a stable 5+% increase every year.

And what about inflation?
While, I am not an expert in inflation, a few Google searches brought me to Inflationdata.com’s Inflation Calculator which helps you check the cumulative inflation over a given period of time.

Cumulative inflation
over this (2003 to 2011) period is 22.3%

Therefore, the cost of college has accelerated at 4X-5X when compared to inflation.

In the Information Age when content wants to be free, it is quite surprising to see the cost of education continue to skyrocket.

PS: Yes, I know the distinction between information and knowledge; and do not mean to discount the value of good teaching.

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