A Decade of Change
College prices were relatively stable during the 1970s, but increases in tuition and fees began to outstrip growth in consumer prices during the early 1980s, causing much public concern about college affordability (The College Board 2003a). Figure 1 shows the annual percentage increases in tuition and fees at different types of institutions between 1989–90 and 2002–03. In the public sector, annual increases were mostly in the 10 to 14 percent range in the early 1990s. A period of more modest annual increases followed, ranging from 4 to 6 percent at 4-year institutions and less than that at 2-year institutions. In the past couple of years, however, growth has accelerated again, and between 2001–02 and 2002–03, tuition rose by 9 percent at public 4-year institutions and by 7 percent at public 2-year institutions. At private 4-year institutions, annual percentage increases have been more even. Compared with the increases at public institutions, they were generally not as high in the early 1990s, were about the same in the mid-1990s, and have not shown the recent upturn.
Figures and Tables
Figure 1: Annual percentage change in average tuition and fees paid by full-time-equivalent students, by type of institution, and annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index: 1989–90 to 2002–03