An article in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education (unfortunately paywalled here) notes that "...58 private colleges and universities published rates for tuition, fees, room, and board totaling $50,000 or more in 2009-10. Last year only five institutions did so." Recalling the tuition I paid when I entered college in 1965, at a selective private liberal arts school, I thought it would be interesting to bring that up-to-date in 2008 prices.
Entering tuition, 1965: $1,400 per year.
Adjusted to 2008 prices: $9,569.
Tuition at that institution in 2009/10: $32,800.
At least my school is not one of the $50K institutions. Makes it a bargain, right?
The leader nationally is Sarah Lawrence University, at $55,788. Northwestern leads the schools inthe midwest at $50,164. Harvard isn't on the list, somewhat to my surprise...
To be fair, the "list price" is not what many-to-most students pay, because of various forms of financial aid, whether need-based or merit-based. Nonetheless, tuition and other direct expenses private, non-profit, four year schools averaged nearly $36,000 this year, nearly 60% of median family income. My 1965 tuition was less than 25% of the median family income then.
Whatever one might say, this looks not like a sustainable trend to me. And, as Herb Stein once said, if a trend can't be sustained, it won't be.