Skip to Main Content

Average cost of college

Exterior of Yale University campus
Winston Tan/Shutterstock
Exterior of Yale University campus
Winston Tan/Shutterstock
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of

ON THIS PAGE Jump to Open page navigation

The cost of college in the U.S. has nearly tripled over the last four decades — and things don’t seem to be slowing down, especially now that sky-high inflation is making everything more expensive.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees for public four-year schools came out to $10,740 for in-state students and $27,560 for out-of-state students, according to the latest data from College Board. Private nonprofit four-year schools amassed a much higher $38,070 average. Add room and board, books and other expenses to the mix, and that bill goes up several thousand dollars more.

Here’s everything you need to know about college costs, including how much tuition has changed over the years and trends that have contributed to these ever-rising costs.

Key college cost statistics

  • In the 2021-22 school year, the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year university was $10,740 for in-state undergraduates and $27,560 for out-of-state undergraduates. Adding in room and board, supplies and other expenses brings that total to $27,330 and $44,150 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.
  • In the 2021-22 school year, the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a private nonprofit four-year university was $38,070. With room and board, supplies and other expenses, that total rises to $55,800.
  • The average annual cost of community college was $3,800 in tuition and fees and $18,830 inclusive of room and board and other expenses for the 2021-22 school year.
  • Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey are some of the most expensive states in which to get an undergraduate degree. Florida, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming are some of the cheapest.
  • 16.2 million students are enrolled in college in the U.S. as of spring 2022.

Average cost of college

The average cost of college in America depends on the type of college you attend and where you attend. Out-of-state students pay much more than in-state students, since nonresident students don’t pay taxes to the state in which they attend school.

Private colleges are usually the most expensive option because public schools receive funding from the federal government, whereas private colleges receive most of their funding through tuition costs and private donations.

The average cost of college also differs by degree level. A bachelor’s degree costs much less annually than a doctoral degree, though keep in mind that most advanced degrees take only one to two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree generally takes four years to complete.

Average cost of college by school sector, 2021-22

Public two-year in-district Public four-year in-state Public four-year out-of-state Private nonprofit four-year
Tuition and fees $3,800 $10,740 $27,560 $38,070
Room and board $9,330 $11,950 $11,950 $13,620
Books and supplies, transportation and other expenses $5,700 $4,640 $4,640 $4,110
Total cost for one academic year $18,830 $27,330 $44,150 $55,800

Source: College Board

Average cost of college by classification, 2021-22

Bachelor’s (public four-year) Master’s (public four-year) Doctoral (public four-year) Bachelor’s (private nonprofit four-year) Master’s (private nonprofit four-year) Doctoral (private nonprofit four-year)
Tuition and fees $8,940 $9,000 $11,620 $38,290 $29,670 $45,830
Room and board $11,060 $10,980 $12,500 $12,640 $12,800 $15,530
Total cost of tuition, fees and room and board $20,000 $19,980 $24,120 $50,930 $42,470 $61,360

Source: College Board

Cost of college for undocumented students

Undocumented students face additional challenges when it comes to financing a college education. Undocumented students — including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — aren’t currently eligible to receive federal financial aid. While the Biden administration proposed allowing DACA recipients to receive federal aid opportunities, nothing has been announced by the administration about signing this into law.

Undocumented students are lawfully entitled to a K-12 public education, regardless of state. However, this law doesn’t extend to higher education, and each state has different provisions regarding undocumented students and their ability to attend public schools or receive state aid. Here’s a breakdown of what states allow in regards to postsecondary financial aid, according to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal:

  • There are 23 states that allow in-state tuition for undocumented students: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Washington, D.C.
  • Nineteen states allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah, Rhode Island, Virginia, Texas, Washington and Washington, D.C.
  • Ten states prohibit in-state tuition and/or state financial aid for undocumented students: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
  • Three states prohibit undocumented students from enrolling at public institutions: Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Cost of college over time

College tuition costs have been steadily increasing over time, which student loan lender Earnest attributes to recruitment costs, capital improvements, administrative staff expansion, higher staff salaries and more.

Accounting for inflation, College Board has found that public two-year tuition and fee costs have increased by 7 percent since the 2011-12 school year. Public four-year tuition and fees have increased by 9 percent in that time, and private nonprofit four-year tuition and fees have increased by 14 percent. The percentage change increases even more when you add in the cost of room and board, books, supplies and other expenses.

Average undergraduate tuition and fees in 2021 dollars

Academic year Private nonprofit four-year Public four-year Public two-year
2011-12 $33,320 $9,890 $3,550
2012-13 $33,940 $10,130 $3,690
2013-14 $34,770 $10,260 $3,740
2014-15 $35,520 $10,390 $3,790
2015-16 $36,680 $10,690 $3,860
2016-17 $37,520 $10,830 $3,870
2017-18 $38,060 $10,940 $3,880
2018-19 $38,190 $10,930 $3,890
2019-20 $38,780 $10,980 $3,890
2020-21 $38,710 $10,980 $3,890
2021-22 $38,070 $10,740 $3,800

Source: College Board

Average cost of college by state

The average cost of public universities and colleges varies by state. The size of the state, the population and the number of colleges in each state are all factors that impact the average cost of college.

Average cost of undergraduate college tuition and fees by state, 2020-21

Public two-year (in-state) Public two-year (out-of-state) Public four-year (in-state) Public four-year (out-of-state) Private four-year
Alabama $5,048 $10,082 $10,617 $27,005 $17,354
Alaska N/A N/A $8,849 $25,535 $19,575
Arizona $2,160 $6,927 $11,410 $25,426 $13,108
Arkansas $3,484 $4,845 $8,468 $21,598 $24,998
California $1,285 $8,491 $8,401 $34,398 $38,477
Colorado $3,468 $8,889 $9,269 $30,930 $23,128
Connecticut $4,522 $13,483 $14,487 $36,881 $43,013
Delaware N/A N/A $11,343 $31,809 $14,501
District of Columbia N/A N/A $6,152 $13,004 $44,692
Florida $2,506 $9,111 $4,541 $18,322 $28,860
Georgia $3,169 $8,535 $7,525 $23,430 $30,380
Hawaii $3,226 $8,378 $10,197 $32,043 $19,096
Idaho $3,332 $8,235 $7,482 $24,700 $6,452
Illinois $4,180 $11,166 $14,579 $28,660 $35,894
Indiana $4,637 $8,927 $9,656 $28,972 $35,447
Iowa $5,411 $6,844 $9,373 $27,684 $35,224
Kansas $3,648 $4,828 $9,081 $23,945 $25,523
Kentucky $4,517 $15,262 $10,976 $25,049 $26,996
Louisiana $4,219 $6,770 $9,642 $23,333 $41,393
Maine $3,857 $6,746 $10,377 $29,061 $40,007
Maryland $4,369 $10,623 $9,401 $26,376 $44,356
Massachusetts $5,529 $10,680 $13,939 $32,019 $49,152
Michigan $3,756 $7,707 $13,716 $39,427 $31,055
Minnesota $5,545 $6,012 $11,836 $24,620 $34,608
Mississippi $3,491 $5,820 $8,642 $20,160 $19,222
Missouri $3,676 $6,783 $9,310 $21,880 $27,723
Montana $3,981 $9,038 $6,993 $26,368 $32,064
Nebraska $3,179 $3,956 $8,761 $22,277 $24,985
Nevada N/A N/A $6,434 $23,010 $26,054
New Hampshire $7,123 $15,343 $16,749 $31,256 $14,934
New Jersey $4,919 $8,136 $14,184 $28,682 $38,586
New Mexico $1,766 $6,236 $7,393 $21,645 $24,892
New York $5,576 $8,874 $8,416 $20,113 $42,631
North Carolina $2,474 $8,511 $7,260 $23,136 $36,772
North Dakota $5,233 $6,186 $9,065 $13,501 $16,408
Ohio $4,416 $7,888 $10,049 $26,213 $35,352
Oklahoma $4,194 $9,320 $8,064 $21,737 $29,905
Oregon $5,136 $8,710 $11,537 $33,935 $45,166
Pennsylvania $5,441 $12,808 $14,532 $25,697 $43,926
Rhode Island $4,806 $12,884 $13,697 $32,111 $45,927
South Carolina $4,964 $10,313 $12,544 $33,055 $27,317
South Dakota $7,326 $7,224 $9,012 $12,924 $26,740
Tennessee $4,361 $17,013 $10,271 $25,046 $29,862
Texas $2,828 $7,764 $8,016 $25,471 $37,450
Utah $3,989 $12,709 $6,764 $21,595 $7,753
Vermont $6,920 $13,640 $17,593 $41,963 $48,300
Virginia $5,228 $12,059 $13,931 $36,193 $23,220
Washington $4,564 $7,186 $7,485 $30,891 $40,830
West Virginia $4,470 $9,781 $8,252 $22,475 $12,413
Wisconsin $4,534 $6,552 $8,782 $26,970 $35,674
Wyoming $3,987 $9,820 $4,785 $14,710 N/A

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Average cost of college by university

The school that you attend is the biggest factor in determining how much student loan debt you could end up with. Generally, the more prestigious and well-known the university, the more expensive it will be.

Average cost of college at America’s most well-known universities, 2022-23

University Location Cost of undergraduate tuition (in-state) Total expected costs (in-state)
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, California $14,796 $43,794
Yale University New Haven, Connecticut $62,250 $84,525
Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey $57,410 $79,540
Stanford University Stanford, California $57,693 $82,162
Columbia University New York City, New York $65,524 $85,967
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts $57,590 $79,850
Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts $52,659 $84,413
University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California $13,804 $37,448
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $56,212 $85,738
Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois $62,391 $87,804

Average cost of college at America’s flagship universities, 2022-23

University Estimated in-state undergraduate cost of attendance Estimated out-of-state undergraduate cost of attendance
University of Alaska Fairbanks $20,520–$21,450 $38,190–$39,120
University of Alabama $32,054 $53,364
University of Arkansas $28,300 $46,054
University of Arizona $31,650 $58,050
University of California: Berkeley $49,304 $80,330
University of Colorado at Boulder $33,466 $61,312
University of Connecticut $38,670 $61,750
University of Delaware $32,444 $54,964
University of Florida $21,810 $44,088
University of Georgia $27,542 $47,416
University of Hawaii at Manoa $30,331 $52,363
University of Iowa $26,883 $48,846
University of Idaho $22,846 $42,082
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign $33,558–$38,744 $51,870–$59,556
Indiana University: Bloomington $27,456 $55,128
University of Kansas $27,086 $44,290
University of Kentucky $33,150 $53,546
Louisiana State University $33,982 $50,659
University of Massachusetts: Amherst $31,728 $52,948
University of Maryland: College Park $29,636 $57,872
University of Maine $27,412 $49,552
University of Michigan $33,555–$35,655 $72,153–$76,031
University of Minnesota: Twin Cities $31,348 $52,088
University of Missouri: Columbia $29,636 $48,808
University of Mississippi $27,910 $45,130
University of Montana $25,534 $48,936
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $25,258 $54,352
University of North Dakota $10,951 (tuition and fees only) $15,570 (tuition and fees only)
University of Nebraska: Lincoln $27,064 $44,194
University of New Hampshire $35,350 $55,010
Rutgers University: New Brunswick Campus $36,271 $54,483
University of New Mexico $27,471 $43,777
University of Nevada: Reno $28,136 $44,678
State University of New York at Buffalo $27,294 $37,204
Ohio State University: Columbus Campus $26,451 (tuition and room and board only) $50,688 (tuition and room and board only)
University of Oklahoma $33,250 $49,817
University of Oregon $33,639 $61,275
Pennsylvania State University Park $34,659.48 $53,475.48
University of Rhode Island $29,464 (tuition, fees, room and board only) $47,946 (tuition, fees, room and board only)
University of South Carolina $34,700 $55,940
University of South Dakota $18,856 $22,366
University of Tennessee: Knoxville $32,678 $51,098
University of Texas at Austin $29,406–$32,346 $57,420–$65,268
University of Utah $27,386 $40,034
University of Virginia $36,098–$47,994 $72,250–$86,050
University of Vermont $35,806 $61,132
University of Washington $32,464 $60,962
University of Wisconsin: Madison $27,920 $57,052
West Virginia University $21,002 (tuition, fees, room and board only) $38,186 (tuition, fees, room and board only)
University of Wyoming $23,266 $38,416

Average financial aid

College Board found that undergraduate and graduate students received $234.9 billion in grants, work-study, federal student loans and federal tax credits in the 2020-21 school year. On average, graduate students take out larger federal loans than undergraduate students, while undergraduate students receive more grant aid and tax credits. The average financial aid below does not include private scholarships or private student loans, which can also cut down the cost of college significantly.

Average financial aid per student, 2020-21

Average federal student loans Average grant aid Average other aid
Undergraduate students $3,780 $10,050 $970
Graduate students $17,540 $8,860 $520

Source: College Board

What does the cost of college pay for?

According to OneClass, for every $100 you spend on tuition, $61.46 goes directly toward education-related costs like staff salaries and facility upkeep. The other $38.54 goes toward noneducational expenses.

The largest spending categories are as follows:

  • Eighty-one percent of your tuition goes toward salaries.
  • Fifty-eight percent of your tuition goes toward hospitals.
  • Sixty-six percent of your tuition goes toward research.
  • Forty-seven percent of your tuition goes toward other instruction expenses.
  • Sixty-one percent of your tuition goes toward auxiliary enterprises.
Written by
Heidi Rivera
Heidi Rivera is a student loans writer for Bankrate. She began her journey in the personal finance space in 2018 and is passionate about collecting data and creating content around higher education and student loans.
Edited by
Student loans editor
up next
Part of  Cost of College