Indicators

Price of Attending an Undergraduate Institution
(Last Updated: May 2016)

The average net price of attendance (total cost minus grant and scholarship aid) for first-time, full-time students in 2013–14 (in constant 2014–15 dollars) was $12,750 at 4-year public institutions, $24,690 at 4-year private nonprofit institutions, and $21,000 at 4-year private for-profit institutions.


Figure 1. Average total cost of attending degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution and student living arrangement: Academic year 2014–15

Figure 1. Average total cost of attending degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution and student living arrangement: Academic year 2014–15


NOTE: The total cost of attending a postsecondary institution includes tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the average cost for room, board, and other expenses. Tuition and fees at public institutions are the lower of either in-district or in-state tuition and fees. Excludes students who have already attended another postsecondary institution or who began their studies on a part-time basis. Data are weighted by the number of students at the institution receiving Title IV aid. Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2014–15, Student Financial Aid component; and Fall 2014, Institutional Characteristics component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 330.40.


The total cost of attending a postsecondary institution includes tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the average cost for room, board, and other expenses. In academic year 2014–15, the total cost of attendance for first-time, full-time students differed by institution level and control, and by student living arrangement. At 4-year institutions, the average total cost of attendance for students living on campus was $22,750 at public institutions,1 $45,760 at private nonprofit institutions, and $30,410 at private for-profit institutions. At 2-year institutions, the average total cost of attendance for students living on campus was $13,850 at public institutions, $29,700 at private nonprofit institutions, and $28,710 at private for-profit institutions. At every level and control of institution, the average total cost of attendance was lowest for students living with family. For example, for students at 2-year public institutions and living with family, the average total cost of attendance was $8,600, compared with $13,850 for students living on campus and $16,370 for students living off campus but not with family.


Figure 2. Average tuition and fees of degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2011–12 through 2014–15

Figure 2. Average tuition and fees of degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2011–12 through 2014–15


NOTE: Tuition and fees at public institutions are the lower of either in-district or in-state tuition and fees. Excludes students who have already attended another postsecondary institution or who began their studies on a part-time basis. Data are weighted by the number of students at the institution receiving Title IV aid. Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2011–12 through Winter 2014–15, Student Financial Aid component; and Fall 2010 through Fall 2014, Institutional Characteristics component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 330.40.


Average undergraduate tuition and fees (in constant 2014–15 dollars) for first-time, full-time students across all 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions were higher in 2014–15 than in 2011–12. In 2014–15, 4-year public institutions reported average tuition and fees of $8,440—a 5 percent increase over the 2011–12 amount ($8,010). During this period, 4-year private nonprofit institutions had the largest percentage increase in tuition and fees (7 percent, from $29,050 to $31,180). The tuition and fees at 4-year private for-profit institutions were 2 percent higher in 2014–15 ($15,460) than in 2011–12 ($15,190). In 2014–15, at 2-year public institutions, average undergraduate tuition and fees were $3,270—a 7 percent increase over the 2011–12 amount ($3,060). As with 2-year public institutions, 2-year private nonprofit institutions reported a 7 percent increase in tuition and fees from $14,570 in 2011–12 to $15,630 in 2014–15. In 2014–15, tuition and fees at 2-year private for-profit institutions were 3 percent lower than in 2011–12 ($14,430 versus $14,870).

Many students and their families pay less than the full price of attendance because they receive financial aid to help cover their expenses. The 2013–14 average total cost of attendance (in constant 2014–15 dollars) ranged from a low of $8,530 for students living off campus with their families at 2-year public institutions to a high of $44,680 for students living on campus at 4-year private nonprofit institutions. The primary types of financial aid are grant and scholarship aid, which do not have to be repaid, and loans, which must be repaid. Grant and scholarship aid may be awarded on the basis of financial need, merit, or both, and may include tuition aid from employers. In 2013–14, the average amount of grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students who received Title IV aid2 was higher for students at private nonprofit institutions than for those at public and private for-profit institutions. Students at 4-year private nonprofit institutions received an average of $19,120 in grant and scholarship aid, compared with $6,840 at 4-year public institutions and $5,350 at 4-year private for-profit institutions.

The net price is the estimate of the actual amount of money that students and their families need to pay in a given year to cover educational expenses. Net price is calculated here as the total cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Net price provides an indication of what the actual financial burden is upon students and their families.

In 2013–14, the average net price for first-time, full-time students who received Title IV aid (in constant 2014–15 dollars) was lower for students at public institutions than for those at private nonprofit and private for-profit institutions. The average net price of attendance for first-time, full-time students in 2013–14 was $12,750 at 4-year public institutions, $24,690 at 4-year private nonprofit institutions, and $21,000 at 4-year private for-profit institutions. The average net price of attendance for first-time, full-time students in 2013–14 was $7,100 at 2-year public institutions, $19,040 at 2-year private nonprofit institutions, and $20,170 at 2-year private for-profit institutions.


Figure 3. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students paying in-state tuition and receiving aid at 4-year public institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14

Figure 3. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students paying in-state tuition and receiving aid at 4-year public institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14


NOTE: Excludes students who previously attended another postsecondary institution or who began their studies on a part-time basis. Net price is calculated here as the total cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Data are weighted by the number of students at the institution receiving Title IV aid. Includes only first-time, full-time students who paid the in-state or in-district tuition rate and who received Title IV aid. Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2013–14, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 331.30.


The average amount of grant and scholarship aid received and the net price paid (in constant 2014–15 dollars) differed by students’ family income level. In general, the lower the income, the greater the total amount of grant and scholarship aid received. For example, at 4-year public institutions, the average amount of grant and scholarship aid received by first-time, full-time students paying in-state tuition in 2013–14 was highest for those with family incomes of $30,000 or less ($9,960 in aid) and lowest for those with family incomes of $110,001 or more ($1,880 in aid). Accordingly, the lowest average net price ($9,300) was for students with family incomes of $30,000 or less, and the highest average net price ($20,430) was for those with family incomes of $110,001 or more.


Figure 4. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students receiving aid at 4-year private nonprofit institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14

Figure 4. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students receiving aid at 4-year private nonprofit institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14


NOTE: Excludes students who previously attended another postsecondary institution or who began their studies on a part-time basis. Net price is calculated here as the total cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Data are weighted by the number of students at the institution receiving Title IV aid. Includes only first-time, full-time students who received Title IV aid. Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2013–14, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 331.30.


As with 4-year public institutions, the pattern of average net price increasing with family income was also observed at 4-year private nonprofit institutions. However, in 2013–14 the average amount of grant and scholarship aid received (in constant 2014–15 dollars) followed a different pattern. It was highest for students with family incomes between $30,001 and $48,000 ($22,680), followed by those with family incomes between $48,001 and $75,000 ($21,210), those with family incomes of $30,000 or less ($20,130), those with family incomes between $75,001 and $110,000 ($18,820), and those with family incomes of $110,001 or more ($15,350).


Figure 5. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students receiving aid at private for-profit 4-year institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14

Figure 5. Average total cost, net price, and grant and scholarship aid for first-time, full-time students receiving aid at private for-profit 4-year institutions, by family income level: Academic year 2013–14


NOTE: Excludes students who previously attended another postsecondary institution or who began their studies on a part-time basis. Net price is calculated here as the total cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Data are weighted by the number of students at the institution receiving Title IV aid. Includes only first-time, full-time students who received Title IV aid. Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2013–14, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 331.30.


At 4-year private for-profit institutions, the total amount of grant and scholarship aid received (in constant 2014–15 dollars) followed the pattern of 4-year public institutions: the lower the family income level, the greater the total amount of grant and scholarship aid received. The average amount of grant and scholarship aid received by first-time, full-time students in 2013–14 was highest for those with family incomes of $30,000 or less ($5,810), while it was lowest among those with family incomes of $110,001 or more ($2,090). The lowest average net price was for students with family incomes of $30,000 or less ($20,140), and the highest average net price was for those with family incomes of $110,001 or more ($30,280).

In addition to the differences observed for each institution type by family income level, the average amount of grant and scholarship aid received and the average net price of attendance (in constant 2014–15 dollars) also varied by institution control. At each family income level, the average amount of grant and scholarship aid was highest for students at private nonprofit institutions and generally lowest for students at private for-profit institutions; the average net price was generally highest for students at private for-profit institutions and lowest for students at public institutions. The average amount of grant and scholarship aid received by students attending 4-year institutions with family incomes between $30,001 and $48,000 was highest at private nonprofit institutions ($22,680), followed by public institutions ($9,370), and private for-profit institutions ($5,780). The average net price of attending a 4-year private for-profit institution ($21,930) at this income level was higher than the price of attending a 4-year private nonprofit ($19,320) or a 4-year public institution ($10,840).


1 All data for public institutions only include students who paid the in-state or in-district tuition and fees.
2 Title IV aid includes grant aid, work-study aid, and loan aid. All net price and grant and scholarship aid data only include students who received Title IV aid.


Glossary Terms

Data Source

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)