The Real Cost of College Education

Let’s examine two sets of numbers if for nothing else, for being probably the largest and most important and the largest single investment in our life. With an eye to college education expenditure, over a period of 4 years how does it fare against what we perceive as the most important single investment   our home.

In the past 40 years, the average cost for a four-year college education (tuition, room and board) in the U.S. has gone from about $2,400 to nearly $30,000 per year today. Adjusted for inflation the price went up from $12,700 to $30,000. When compared to housing, the average home price 40 years ago was about $35,000 and today $331,000. Adjusted for inflation home pricing went up from $172,000 40 years ago to $331,000.


The percentage of students carrying debt has shot up from less than half to nearly 70 percent. The avg. price tag of private colleges with room and board is $40,130, up 60% in the past ten years from $25,060. The ratio of Pell Grant to the cost of college education did not change much in the past 10 years and it stands on 14% in private schools and 31% of the cost of public schools.

Pell Grants Chart