College Living Prices Rise Faster Than Inflation

Colleges raise room and board prices faster than the CPI.

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While some recent improvements in federal financial aid have reduced the pain of skyrocketing tuition prices, the total cost of a year at a typical public university campus, which includes dorm accommodations and cafeteria meal plan charges, is still rising faster than regular inflation and average incomes.

A report issued by the College Board in late October documented how standard dorm and meal plan contract prices have been rising faster than inflation for more than a decade.

[Read about schools with low-cost dorms.]

The figures are in 2010 dollars. In other words, in the fall of 2000, the average public university billed students about $4,900 for half of a standard double dorm room and a full meal plan for the academic year. But because of inflation, that amount has the buying power of $6,220 in 2010.

All figures in this chart account for standard inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

[Read 7 reasons why college cafeteria prices are rising faster than inflation.]

In addition to tuition, fees, room and board, students must also budget for books, travel to and from campus, and miscellaneous living expenses such as laundry. The College Board estimates those extras cost the average student $4,200 for the 2010-2011 academic year. 

  Published
tuition
and fees
Net tuition
and fees*
Room
and board
Net tuition, fees,
room and board
1999-2000 $4,400 $2,130 $6,170 $8,300
2000-2001 $4,430 $1,990 $6,220 $8,210
2001-2002 $4,630 $1,990 $6,460 $8,450
2002-2003 $4,960 $2,100 $6,750 $8,850
2003-2004 $5,510 $2,050 $6,970 $9,020
2004-2005 $5,900 $2,100 $7,190 $9,290
2005-2006 $6,130 $2,080 $7,390 $9,470
2006-2007 $6,220 $1,840 $7,530 $9,370
2007-2008 $6,480 $1,760 $7,710 $9,470
2008-2009 $6,530 $1,680 $7,710 $9,390
2009-2010 $7,140 $1,140 $8,260 $9,400
2010-2011 (estimated) $7,610 $1,540 $8,540 $10,080
         
5 year change in 2010 $ $1,480 -$540 $1,150 $610
5 year real % change 24% -26% 16% 6%

All figures recalculated to be in 2010 dollars
Source: The College Board

*Net tuition and fees is the cost after scholarships, tax credits, and other financial aid is subtracted.

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