College Cost of Attendance: Research of Prices in 2020 and Updated Description

In order to understand the reasons for the college price increase, we have to admit that prices consist of numerous factors, as educational, social, global, etc. It all affects tuition charges in certain colleges.

According to statistics, on average, the college cost per year has increased by almost $21, 500 since the year 2000 for students who live on campus.

For 2-year and 4-year colleges, the tuition has boosted by $670 and $2,020 correspondingly over the past year. As a result, lots of students face loan debts, and unequal price rise is continuing. 

That is why in our college cost of attendance research, we are going to define the causes of constant changes intuition.  

Enrollment of Students from 2008 to 2019 and Other Expenses

To understand what affects college prices in the US, it is worth checking the number of students who have studied in colleges over a specific period. 

About 21.9 million students entered colleges during 2018/2019. However, during the 2008/2009 academic year, there were 23.2 million of them. 

If we compare the figures within this period, initially, there was a growth in enrollment in the years following 2008/2009. Thus, during the 2009/2010, almost 24.7 million applicants were accepted. In 2010/2011, there was the highest rate – up to 25.2 million. And during the period of 2019-2020, only 18.2 million students went to colleges.

Factors of enrollment reduction:

College cost. Tuition rates increase because of fewer money contributions from the states. 

Economic slowdown. The more unemployment goes down, the less the level of college enrollment is.

Online courses. Remote classes are attractive for students due to the lower cost of education and still good quality.

Demographic transition. There was a birth inclination nearly 20 years ago, so we have fewer people of student age nowadays.  

Together with the reduced number of students enrolling, tuition prices tend to increase. It results in the rise of student debts

Prognosis for Private and Public school Attendance

We can notice that the rate of enrollment in secondary and elementary schools is almost the same. And we decided to analyze the future enrollment to Private and Public schools in the US. 

According to the Digest of Education Statistics, up to the year 2028, the average level remains almost equal: 

This suggests that the decrease in enrollment to colleges may not be dependent on the number of school graduates. 

Among the factors, which really matter, are high payment plans and big student loans that don’t correlate with a middle family budget. Of course, online education also contributes to such change. 

Besides this, not every school graduate is aiming at a college or can be accepted.  

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Family income VS Costs of Attendance

Students are often forced to take college loans due to the large percentage of an attendance cost in relation to the family income, which sometimes may be over 30% of the budget.  

According to the statistics, the tuition cost became 37% more in public colleges during the period from 2008 to 2019. A 30% increase in attendance fee can be traced in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, South Carolina during the same period. Moreover, these states are characterized by a large number of African Americans who have a lower income. 

In some other states like Oklahoma, Arizona, Mississippi, etc. the student funding has decreased by over 30%.

However, Utah demonstrates the increase in student enrollment of 4.9% since 2018. In Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas, the figures are lower, but still increasing while the largest decline in enrollment is shown in Florida – 52,328 students less than before.

In general, across the United States, private 4-year establishments faced the decline, whereas, in professional education, a little increase occurred. 

Most Typical College Expenses

About 85% of students study full-time. Consequently, most parents have to reduce their leisure pursuits to support their children during their college education.

According to our college cost of attendance research, education expenses include:

  • Tuition payment 
  • Purchase of academic materials 
  • Insurance
  • Meal 
  • Сash allowance
  • Boarding 
  • Travel costs

The cost of living on campus and food options depends on the college you chose and the payment plan. Even if students live at home and don’t pay for accommodation, transportation cost is added to general expenses. A good option may be to rent an apartment together with a college friend. 

You can’t avoid travel costs too, whether you live at home or on campus. The amount will only depend on the frequency of your traveling. 

Average Tuition Fees in U.S. at Public Colleges in 2019/2020

An average fee for college (tuition & boarding) varies from state to state. During the academic year, 2019/2020 students from Southwest and West at 4-year colleges spend $1000 less than Midwest students. Students from New England have the highest fees – about $13,940.

In 2-year colleges, the average cost varies too: in New, England students spend almost twice as much as in the West ($5,700 and $2,460 correspondingly). 

Due to financial stringency, students often look for part-time jobs to cover some expenses.

Average prices at Colleges: General Information

Average academic expenses during 2019-2020 were $30,500, depending on the college type:

 From 1989 to 2016, the college cost of attendance in the United States raised eight times faster than salaries. For instance, the cost for a 4-year degree college is 50% more now than it was in 1989.

Although the attendance cost goes up, there is good news too: colleges started to provide bigger financial aid to students. 

Important findings:

  1. Сollege prices grow slower than before: about 2.2% annually, compared to a 3.9% increase from 1989 to 1999. 
  2. Most students don’t pay posted price for college – during 2019-2020, listed prices were 43% higher than the actual cost.
  3. Student loans reduce – during 2018-2019, families borrowed about $25 billion less for education than during the 2010-2011 academic year.
  4. Financial support has increased from 2008 to 2020 by 56%.

Statistics of Actual Student Expenses

An interesting fact is that US students often spend more money on food, clothes, and entertainment than on academic materials and tuition. Just compare:


Bars, cinemas, nightclubs:

Clothes & makeup:




Whereas, the average cost of college course in 2019/2020 constitutes $99,417, and tuition is only $39,045. Among other expenses there are:






Course materials: 







Tuition & Board in 2018/2019 VS 2019/2020

College Board data shows that during 2019-2020 listed tuition and boarding expenses increased considerably – about 3.4%. In the private sector. To compare, at public 2-year colleges during 2018-2019, the tuition fee was four times lower than for the regular students of commercial colleges.

Statistics for 4-year in-state colleges:

  • 2,3% growth in 2019-2020 for tuition. 
  • 2,9% growth for boarding. 
  • Statistics for out-of-state students in 2019-2020:
  • 2,4% growth for tuition. 
  • 2,9% growth for boarding.  

Estimated College Cost for 2020-2021

Although it’s difficult to estimate the cost of attendance accurately for 2020-2021, in general, the cost consists of both tuition fees and additional expenses.

For example, the approximate cost in 2020-2021 for Yale University will constitute $78,725, which includes:

  • Tuition – $57,700
  • Accommodation – $9,750
  • Boarding – $7,450
  • Academic materials and Personal Expenses – $3,700
  • Student Activities – $125

Accommodation and Boarding

For college students the question of on-campus or off-campus living is a real dilemma. 

According to statistics, 87% of students live off-campus, as it is often cheaper. If a student shares a room off-campus with someone else, the costs are reduced to 50%. In the case of dormitories, it remains the same, even with more than two people in the room. 

However, sometimes on-campus living costs almost twice less than renting an apartment with another student, depending on the college placement.

It is hard for applicants to compare it in advance, as even in official calculation tools, net pricing for room and boarding can be misleading. 

Comparison of popular U.S Colleges: Expected Attendance Cost

Daemen College (New York)

For full-time students the tuition fee is $30,360/year. Part-time students pay $990/credit hour. 

Board pricing is from $13,860 to $12,640, depending on the meal plan. 

For international students, the cost is $44,470/year.

Columbia College (Missouri)

Total attendance cost in 2020-2021 is $40,188/three semesters. For course materials, you will pay $360. Boarding constitutes $13,056/three semesters. 

Blinn College (Texas)

Total attendance prices depend on the place students are going to live. For on-campus accommodation, it is about $19,600.

Eastern Nazarene College (Massachusetts)

The tuition cost constitutes $25,952. Boarding is $9,985. $1000 is a student fee. So, in total, freshmen will pay $36,937.

Lycoming College (Pennsylvania)

The tuition in 2020-2021 is going to be $20,992/semester. The cost of the room is $3,412/semester. Boarding costs $3,280/semester and allows students to select a room in the budget. 

McDaniel College (Maryland)

The tuition is $45,876 a year. Living is from $5,626 to $6,620 per year. The New Student Comprehensive fee is $975/year. It includes activities, fitness facilities, print allowance, etc. Expenses for books and materials are $1,200/year. 

California’s College of the Arts 

The academic year in 2020-2021 will cost $52,608. And the choice of major influences the pricing.

Dartmouth College (New Hampshire)

Tuition costs are $57,796, plus student fees – $1,662, accommodation is about $10,362, food – $6,660. 

Reasonably priced Colleges and Universities

In the difficult times like ours, with economic crisis due to Covid19, state and governmental funds do their best to make educational establishments more affordable for students. 

5 Cheapest Colleges in U. S.:

How to Lower the Education Cost

There’s nothing pleasant in college tuition growth, even when it is slight. That is why recommendations to reduce the cost may be really helpful:

  1. Save funds. Open a savings account for yourself or do it with your parents’ help.  
  2. Try to get college credits. You can take courses to look more qualified for college enrollment. 
  3. Examine several options. Visit some colleges to define the best fit for your condition. 
  4. Think twice about a major choice. Changes in majors during studying can cost you extra money. 
  5. Apply for scholarships. Browse for available grants or financial aid for your selected major.
  6. Be careful with loans. Take money only if you are capable of paying back. 

Among other recommendations, you can stay at home to reduce boarding costs, look for pre-owned textbooks, or take part in shared expenses with your college mates.

Creating a Budget for College

It is crucial for students to estimate tuition costs and other expenses for an academic year.

  • College Cost. Plan tuition fees for the college in question. Compare the cost of the dorm with the apartment rent. 
  • Everyday Expenses. Include shopping, food, utility bills, transportation, etc. 
  • Estimate annual expenditures. It helps to select a suitable college or think of a summer job. 
  • Control your budget. When you know the preliminary expenses, think about what can be reduced, or which extra costs may arise. For example, you may choose between ordering college essay help or writing the papers individually.

Tuition fees constitute around 39% of the total college budget. So, don’t forget to consider all the additional costs. 

Ways to Solve College Cost Problems

Although colleges try to make education affordable, current economic uncertainty makes it difficult to predict the future of college cost of attendance. 

Always remember that statistics are good, but it is not always 100% correct. So, pay attention to a particular college you want to apply and its pricing policy to evaluate the expenses. 

However, there is always a DoMyWriting option to afford even very expensive colleges if you consider scholarships or other variants of financial aid. Nothing should stop you in the pursuit of knowledge.