The annual cost of attending a four-year private institution in the United States reached $50,770 last year, more than double what it was less than two decades ago and the first time it has exceeded $50,000.
For many Americans, a college degree is often regarded as a measure of success, yet a postsecondary education has become cost-prohibitive for many young people, even when they receive financial aid.
In order to be able to get a degree, millions of students rack up tens of thousands of dollars in debt, sometimes amassing a debt burden that will take decades to fully pay off.
Based on data from the College Board, a nonprofit group associated with American postsecondary institutions, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average cost nationwide of attending four-year public and private colleges each year since 1971. Both figures include tuition, fees, and room and board.
In 1971, a four-year education at a private college in the United States cost less than one-tenth what it does today. Even after adjusting for inflation, a year of private college today costs more than two and a half times what it did back then. This means college prices are disproportionately high for potential undergraduates at a wide array of institutions, and not just at the most expensive college in each state.