Special Report

Colleges with the Biggest Tuition Hikes

Among the most contentious issues these days are inflation and student debt. American wages and consumer prices have been rising sharply in recent months, and the Federal Reserve has been under pressure to raise interest rates to tame inflation. Rising student debt is another hot political topic and has given rise to calls for loan forgiveness. (These are 50 U.S. counties with the most student debt.)

The two issues of inflation and student debt are relevant when it comes to rising tuition costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the problem, as staff shortages have resulted in some colleges having to increase wages and benefits. Meanwhile, many students forced to take classes online feel they haven’t been getting value for their money. (This is the most expensive college in every state.)

Though inflation will likely cause tuition increases in the near future, tuition costs have been rising for decades, with some colleges hiking prices more than others. To determine the colleges with the largest tuition hikes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical tuition data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The 45 institutions on our list all had tuition and fees increase of more than 20% from 2015-16 to 2020-21.  

The school with the largest tuition hike from 2015-16 to 2020-21 is Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri, where tuition increased by an eye-popping 195%, although the nearly triple increase was from a relatively low base. 

Two schools in Texas are ranked second and third: Texas A&M University-Commerce, where tuition rose more than 58%, and Wayland Baptist University, where tuition rose almost 56%. Texas A&M University-Commerce, however, does not look so bad when you look at some other figures. Tuition and fees were still under $10,000 in 2020-21, and 74% of undergraduates were receiving aid. 

Click here to see the colleges with the biggest tuition hikes
Click here to see our detailed methodology

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