Cost increases across the higher education landscape averaged 2.5% for the fiscal year ended June 2019, according to the Higher Education Price Index or HEPI. This is slightly lower than the previous two years: 2018’s inflation was 2.9% and 2017’s, 3.4%.
The HEPI is intended to be “a more accurate indicator of changes in costs for colleges and universities than the more familiar Consumer Price Index” because it specifically tracks operational costs for higher education across the following categories:
- Faculty salaries
- Administrative salaries
- Clerical salaries
- Service employee salaries
- Fringe benefits
- Miscellaneous services
- Supplies and materials
Components are weighted, with faculty salaries making up 35% of the index. In 2019, the largest increases were in service employee salaries (4%) and supplies and materials (4.1%). Faculty salaries were among the slowest growing, at only 2%.
All in all, this would point to modest cost increases at colleges and universities in the coming year. However, keep in mind that these are national averages; actual costs to attend– especially at public universities– depend on a great many factors such as state budgets. This chart, from the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2019, shows the 5-year tuition change at public institutions, by state:
If you were in Wyoming, it wouldn’t be much consolation to know that the average increase was only 2.5%.