College Tuition Rates: The Rise and Fall of Inflation

Between 1980 and 2004, college tuition rates increased rapidly to about 7 percent per year. During that time, college tuition and annual fees for one year of college rose from $1,289 to $7,122. This increase significantly impacted the inflation rate of 2005. However, during the past couple year’s college tuition inflation has averaged at closer to 2 percent per year. Since many jobs in the market require a college degree, it’s important to understand what drives tuition inflation for future income planning and mobility.

I have always wondered if college tuition has increased or decreased over the years so I choose this topic. I think it’s interesting how far tuition rates have come, especially at such a low price. College tuition is very expensive in 2020, especially when you are out of state. When I first started to look for a college I was shocked at the difference between prices with in-state and out-of-state residents. It’s impossible to pay for college on your own without taking out loans. I never understood why colleges cost so much until entered college. 

When I first entered college, I wanted to make myself aware of all the extra charges that will be sent to the University. Universities charge everything such as room, board, gym fees, food, you name it. I mainly wanted to get a college degree so I can get a nice paying job right out of college. A job was important to me so I could pay my parents back for paying for my college. Since college cost a lot of money my family helped me out and I want to pay them back. 

College-educated workers make so much more than people without degrees. According to “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation, this earning gap increased between 1980 to 2005. It is apparent that people with degrees earn more money since they deserve it. Earning a college degree is meant to give you a purpose and that purpose is to be educated and hardworking at your job. According to “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation, changes in supply-side factors, such as rising wages in the education sector or declines in state appropriations for higher education, may cause colleges and universities to pass changes in their costs and revenues on to students in the form of higher tuition.

I found “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation” to be interesting since the article answered many questions I had. According to “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation, statistical evidence suggests that changes in labor costs help ex- plain the rapid increase in college tuition inflation during the 1980– 90 period. The article documents the change in college tuitions over time and explains the rise and fall in college tuition inflation. I find the amount in change over time interesting in prices since they increase so much. College is extremely expensive and takes some time to prepare, especially income funding. A decision on college tuition expenses must be planned out in order to achieve a little less stress. 

Between 1980 and 2004, the cost of college grew significantly. In the first info graphic above, I have demonstrated college tuition measured by the Consumer Price Index compared with the inflation in the CPI of food and energy components. Like I said before in 2005, the price of college tuition increased 7 percent average and 4 percent a year. The chart on my info graphic shows the rise and fall shortly after recessions and periods when core inflation tends to decline. The chart highlights the 10 percent peak in 2004, which then rose down over the last decade with a 2 percent increase between 2017 and 2018. Survey data was conducted from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 

This article also highlighted wages differing in higher education along with public and private college tuition inflations across institutions. I found a lot of the statistics in this article interesting and tried to incorporate a lot of the information on my info graphics. I asked my mom on her opinions about the rise and fall in college tuitions. “I found it interesting how low tuition was in 1980. I could never imagine tuition costs that low now. I wish you had low tuition rates” (Beth, Mother). While working on three info graphics, I went back to earlier course material so I would not overcrowd my info graphics with information. 

Lecture 12.2, Cluttered Info graphics, helped me demonstrate my statistics successfully and deliver acceptable information. I really liked this project since we are able to type in our information as well as design three info graphics. I asked my sister for her opinions on this project and she mentioned, “I would choose a topic about a person. I think this information is surprising and worth thinking deeper into” (Isla, Sister). If I had to do this project again, I think I would choose a different topic that would be easier to demonstrate statistical information. 


Bundick, Brent, and Emily Pollard. “The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation.”                 Economic Review (01612387), vol. 104, no. 1, 2019 First quarter 2019, pp.         1–19.

Lecture 12.2: Cluttered Infographics

Lepera, Isla. May 2, 2020. Opinions

Lepera, Beth. May 2, 2020. Opinions

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