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The average college tuition keeps rising, and it's just the start of college costs

average college tuition
The average college tuition keeps rising. Columbia University in New York City is pictured.
Barry Winiker/Getty Images

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  • The average annual tuition for public, four-year colleges for the 2019 to 2020 school year was $10,486 for in-state residents, and $15,873 for out-of-state residents, according to data from CollegeBoard.
  • On average, room and board costs added $11,510 per year during the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Most students don't pay the full cost, however. The average undergraduate student received $9,520 in financial aid such as scholarships and grants, while the average graduate student received $8,920.
  • Even with financial aid, the average undergraduate student took out $6,660 worth of subsidized and unsubsidized student loans during the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • Learn more about getting or refinancing a student loan with CommonBond »

There's no doubt that college in the US is expensive, and the costs increase almost every year. 

Oftentimes, grants and scholarships don't cover the full cost  — about 58% of students graduated with student loans in 2018 according to CollegeBoard data.

College tuition has risen, but that's far from the only expense a student will encounter at a college or university. 

Annual average tuition at public 4-year colleges and universities

Across the US, college costs for public institutions are fairly similar. Costs are on the rise across the board, with the average state school tuition increasing 8% compared to five years ago. Only four states saw reductions in costs when compared to tuition five years ago. Out-of-state students also tend to pay more at state schools than in-state students. 

According to data from CollegeBoard, the average college tuition at a public, four-year university for the 2019-2020 school year was $10,486 for in-state students, and $15,873 for out-of-state students.

State2019-2020 In-State Tuition and Fees2019-2020 Out-of-State Tuition and Fees5-Year % Change
Alabama$10,920$27,5207%
Alaska$8,230$25,55025%
Arizona$11,920$31,3206%
Arkansas$9,030$22,17010%
California$9,970$31,7501%
Colorado$11,380$31,67014%
Connecticut$13,660$33,17019%
Delaware$13,290$33,0007%
Florida$6,350$21,990-7%
Georgia$8,720$24,6501%
Hawaii$10,980$31,6005%
Idaho$8,000$25,18013%
Illinois$14,170$27,0403%
Indiana$9,670$29,450-1%
Iowa$9,360$27,15011%
Kansas$9,200$23,5103%
Kentucky$10,900$25,53010%
Louisiana$9,610$20,78022%
Maine$10,480$27,6402%
Maryland$10,110$24,9208%
Massachusetts$13,640$30,03015%
Michigan$13,770$37,28010%
Minnesota$11,830$24,8504%
Mississippi$8,600$21,08016%
Missouri$9,020$21,1800%
Montana$7,200$24,7506%
Nebraska$8,750$23,18011%
Nevada$7,950$22,77015%
New Hampshire$16,920$30,4107%
New Jersey$14,540$27,3904%
New Mexico$7,430$21,60012%
New York$8,430$20,6507%
North Carolina$7,280$23,7901%
North Dakota$9,290$13,38015%
Ohio$11,330$25,5804%
Oklahoma$8,920$22,42017%
Oregon$11,220$31,84017%
Pennsylvania$14,940$28,0906%
Rhode Island$13,060$29,74011%
South Carolina$13,060$33,0206%
South Dakota$8,980$12,5008%
Tennessee$10,250$24,3507%
Texas$10,470$27,64010%
United States$10,440$26,8206%
Utah$7,160$21,7708%
Vermont$17,470$41,64012%
Virginia$13,630$34,73013%
Washington$10,080$30,750-12%
West Virginia$8,490$23,04018%
Wisconsin$9,100$24,270-4%
Wyoming$5,580$18,15012%

Average annual tuition at private 4-year colleges and universities

At private colleges and universities, tuition can be a bit more expensive. According to data from CollegeBoard, the average private school tuition was $36,880 per year during the 2019-2020 school year. Like tuition at public schools, private college and university attendance costs have also risen steadily. 

School yearAverage tuition cost Year-over-year change
2009-2010$30,6705.90%
2010-2011$31,5002.70%
2011-2012$31,6600.50%
2012-2013$32,4702.60%
2013-2014$33,0901.90%
2014-2015$33,6901.80%
2015-2016$34,7703.20%
2016-2017$35,7202.70%
2017-2018$36,3801.80%
2018-2019$36,330-0.10%
2019-2020$36,8801.50%

Average room and board cost

Costs for on-campus dorms, meal plans, and transportation add up.  According to CollegeBoard, public and private colleges handle the costs of room and board differently. Here's how the average cost breaks down across three types of schools. 

Type of collegeAverage annual room and board cost
Public two-year college$8,990
Public four-year college $11,510
Private four-year college$12,610

Average amount of financial aid

The average cost of college has risen each year for the past few years, but the amount of student aid each student receives has also increased. While the average tuition cost is high, there's a good chance you won't pay full price. According to data collected by the New York Times Magazine, about 89% of students receive some form of financial aid. 

According to data from CollegeBoard, the average undergraduate student received $9,520 worth of student aid during the 2018-2019 school year, excluding earnings from federal work-study programs. The average graduate student received slightly less, at $8,290 per year. 

School yearAverage undergraduate student financial aid receivedAverage graduate student financial aid received
2018-2019$9,520$8,920
2017-2018$9,300$8,590
2017-2016$8,940$8,430
2016-2015$8,810$8,250
2015-2014$8,570$8,210
2014-2013$8,340$8,210
2013-2012$8,130$8,210

Average student loan debt taken on per year

About 58% of all bachelors degree recipients in 2018 graduated with some student loan debt, with the average borrower owing $29,000, according to CollegeBoard data.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the average loan taken out varied between undergraduate and graduate students. Here's the average loan amount taken per year according to CollegeBoard, along with the costs multiplied by four. Federal student loan interest rates from the US Department of Education associated with each loan type are also listed for the 2018-2019 school year. Current rates are also listed.

Type of loanAverage loan taken during 2018-2019 school yearAverage projected loan balance over 4 yearsFederal student loan interest rate, 2018-2019Federal student loan interest rate, 2020-2021
Undergraduate - Subsidized and unsubsidized$6,660$26,6405.05%2.75%
Undergraduate - PLUS$17,220$68,8807.6%2.75%
Graduate - Subsidized and unsubsidized$19,250$77,0006.6%4.3%
Graduate - PLUS$25,950$103,8007.6%5.3%

Student loans taken out for the 2020-2021 school year will have interest rates at historic lows. Subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans will carry a 2.75% interest rate for undergraduate borrowers, and 4.3% for graduate borrowers. PLUS loan interest rates decreased to 5.3% for the upcoming school year for undergraduate and graduate borrowers. 

Private student loans are also an option. Offered by banks and online lenders, private student loans are an alternative to federal student loans. 

According to data from private student lender LendEDU, the average private student loan interest rate tends to be higher than federal student loan interest rates. 

YearAverage private student loan fundedAverage interest rate
2019$13,95410.63%
2018$13,9549.69%
2017$12,7728.01%
2016$16,2858.08%

It's also worth noting that private student loans don't have options available like income-driven repayment. They're also not eligible for federal relief programs, like the temporary forbearance during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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