While researching college tuition costs, some of the research revealed the average sticker price to attend an in-state college is about 73% less than the full rate charged by a private college. 


Tuition cost among public and private institutions keeps increasing at a slow and steady pace each year. A college’s sticker price is the amount advertised as the full rate for tuition and fees before financial need, scholarships and other aids are factored in. Net price is the amount that a family pays after aid and scholarships – usually offsetting the sticker price shock. 

Prices at most ranked colleges, including public ones, increased for the 2019-2020 school year, according to data submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey. The average price for in-state tuition and fees at ranked public schools rose by 4%, and the average out-of-state price increased by the same percent. Similar to previous year-over-year increases, the average tuition and fees at private colleges climbed 3%. 

But the amount students pay, even when grant aid and tax benefits are factored in, isn’t keeping pace with rising sticker prices, higher education analysts say. Students also have to pay for other expenses, such as housing, food, and books, which can run thousands of dollars a year. 

Seemingly small increases can add up over decades, especially with several years of static or declining wages. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, U.S. median household income is almost the same as it was 20 years ago.

Choice of college contributes to affordability. According to the recent 2019 Sallie Mae survey How America Pays for College, most families weigh financial concerns more heavily than academic needs when selecting a college: Nearly 8 in 10 families say cost governs decision-making. 

The average tuition and fees at an in-state public college are about 73% less than the average sticker price at a private college, at $10,116 for the 2019-2020 year compared with $36,801, respectively, U.S. News data shows. Among ranked private colleges, 120 charge sticker prices of at least $50,000 for the current academic year, according to tuition and fees data reported to U.S. News by 785 private institutions. Only a few ranked private colleges and universities – 61 – list a full rate price of less than $20,000 for 2019-2020.

We all know that tuition will continue to rise in the years to come. What can students and parents do? Simply prepare for one on all of the following:

  • Scholarships Academics. 
  • Grants. 
  • 529 Plans. 
  • Buying Real Estate. 
  • Athletics Scholarships.