The College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing report came out recently and as always, includes some fascinating data. For instance:

  • While overall appropriations to public colleges and universities have increased nominally over the past decade, full time enrollment has increased at a higher rate, meaning that per-full-time-student expenditures are approximately 11% lower than they were a decade ago.
  • Less students are enrolling in for-profit colleges, which are some of the worst offenders when it comes to taking tuition dollars without providing educational benefit. Between 2010 and 2015, enrollment at public 4-year and private non-profit schools increased by 5% and 6%, respectively, while enrollment at private for-profit schools dropped by 33%.
  • Unsurprisingly, college has become considerably less affordable for most American families. From the 1986-87 school year to the 2016-17 school year, the average published tuition for students attending in-state, public schools increased by $6,560 (in 2016 dollars), which accounts for 58% of the increase in income ($11,270) of the middle quintile of families and 8% of the increase for families in the highest income quintile.

This chart shows average published and net prices for different higher education sectors over the last 20 years. Since it’s averages, the numbers themselves are not terribly meaningful. Instead, look at the trends. Those include lower rates of increase in tuition and fees in the last few years as state budgets have recovered from the recession.