Out-Of-State Tuition Has Increased 886% Since 1998 (w/Infographics)


Two students checking savings to pay for educationIt is not surprising news, especially to prospective students seeking a college education, that college tuition is skyrocketing. College tuition costs have been on a dramatic rise since the 1990s.

The high cost of college is responsible for 45 million Americans holding almost $1.5 trillion in student debt. Among the class of 2018, 69% of students took out student loans and graduated with an average debt of $29,800.

We wanted to investigate just how much tuition had risen and here’s what we found.

College Tuition increase since 1990s for University of Southern California, Columbia University, Harvard University, MIT, New York University, Yale University, Boston University, Arizona State University, University of Florida, Ohio State University, Georgia Tech, Penn State, University of Illinois, University of California, Texas A&M, Berkeley, University of Michigan, John Hopkins University, Northeastern University, Penn,

From 1998-2017, public school in-state tuition increased by 244%, or by an average of $8,500. Since 1998, out of state tuition has increased by a whopping 886% (!) or an average of $31,000. For private schools, tuition has also increased significantly by 125% or $29,158.

The situation is grim with students owing more money than ever before. As a result of the increase, students have been propelled further and further into debt.

How We Did Our Research  

We decided to compare 10 public universities and 10 private universities across America.  All of the statistics have come from the Chronicle of Higher Education. After adjusting for inflation, we  compared the differences in tuition over the years.  

To make our research as representative as possible, we examined 10 public universities of varying sizes, and locations. On the smaller end, we have schools like Georgia Tech where the student population is 26,839. The University of Illinois is a medium-sized school where the student population is 44,098. We have also included larger schools like Texas A & M, which has a student enrollment of almost 69,000, and Penn State, which has nearly 99,000 students.

Among the private universities, we also included a range of schools across America of different student population sizes. On the smaller end, you have schools like  MIT, which has a student population of around 11,000. On the larger end, we included NYU which has around 51,000 students enrolled.

The Take Aways

1) The cost of In-State public schools have increased by 244%

In 1998, in-state tuition at public schools was on average $3,859 in our sample pool. Over the next 10 years, things rapidly started to change.

By 2008, public in-state tuition doubled, if not tripled in all schools with a new average of $8,220.

From 2008-2017, fees continued to climb. In-state tuition fees still doubled in schools like Arizona State, University of Florida, and Georgia Tech. But, they did slow down a bit in schools like The University of Illinois and The University of Michigan. There was an average increase of around $4,000 for public in-state tuition with a new in-state tuition average of $12,740.

In total, public school in-state tuition increased by an average of 244%, or $8,500.

2) The cost of Public out-of-state tuition has increased by a massive 886%

In 1998, tuition at out-of-state public schools was on average $3,859 in our sample pool. By 2008, public out-of-state tuition skyrocketed costing 6 times what it did in 1998. The new average tuition was $24,833.

From 2008-2017, public, out-of-state tuition increased even more, $10,000 on average, reaching a mean of $34,972. At schools like Texas A & M the tuition increased by $15,000 in just 10 years. At Berkeley and The University of California tuition increased by $13,000, while at The University of Michigan there was a $14,000 increase in tuition. Overall, since 1998, out of state tuition to public universities has increased on average by a whopping 886% (!) or $31,000.

3) The cost of private schools has also increased by a 125%

College Tuition increase since 1990s for University of Southern California, Columbia University, Harvard University

College Tuition increase since 1990s for MIT, New York University, Yale University, Boston University

At private universities in 1998, tuition was on average $23,153 among the different private universities in our sample pool. By 2008, tuition at private universities had increased to an average of $36,769. By 2017, tuition at private universities increased dramatically to an average of $52,311. That’s an average increase of $15,542 since 2008, and $29,158 since 1998.

Overall since 1998 the average cost of tuition for private school has increased by 125%

Are Universities Exploiting Out-of-State Students?

As you can see, college tuition costs for public schools both in-state and out-of-state were almost identical in all ten public schools we researched in 1998. But, 20 years later, the differences in the cost between in-state and out-of-state tuition is astounding.

The average difference in tuition cost for the same school between in-state and out-of-state students in real dollars is about $22,000. On the low end, for schools such as Penn State and the University of Illinois, this works out to about $15,000. On the higher end, Berkley and the university of California charge out-of-state students about $28,000 more. The university of Michigan charges out-of-state students $33,000 more.

This begs the question. Do these public universities prefer admitting out-of-state 


students (and their inflated tuition) over in-state students? Sadly it would appear the answer is yes.

At the University of Michigan, nearly half of the student body comes from outside the state of Michigan.

At UC Berkeley and at the University of California, the admittance of in-state students is decreasing. In 2010, 80.6% of students at Berkeley were from California and 80.7% of students at the University of California were from California. As of fall 2018, 67.3% of Berkeley students enrolled were from California while 67.8% of students at University of California were from California.

Furthermore, admittance of both out-of-state students and  international students seems to be on the rise. In 1997, 2,019 international students applied to UC schools and 39.5 percent were accepted. In 2017, 27,193 international students applied and 66.4 percent were accepted.

Are these schools exploiting students, particularly those coming from out-of-state? California has had hefty state funding cuts in recent years. These cuts have forced higher-education institutions to depend more on tuition revenue, which may in turn have led them to favor out-of-state students. Yup, The same ones who pay higher 886% more tuition to attend the schools.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve shown, the cost of tuition has skyrocketed in the past 20 years. Since 1998, public school in-state tuition has increased by 244%, or by an average of $8,500. Out-of-state tuition has increased by a whopping 886% or an average of $31,000. Finally among private schools, there has been an average increase of around 125% or $29,158.

tutition feeThe cost of attending college is significantly higher today than it was 20 years ago, and this increase can’t be attributed to inflation. Although the further increase of tuition has slowed in the last few years, it is still increasing, and is still unbearably high. Naturally, as tuition costs continue to rise, so too does the amount of debt that students owe as they graduate from university.

These extortionate tuition rates highlight a serious issue when it comes to tuition costs around the U.S. Students and families must do all that they can to reduce the cost of higher education. Scholarships and FAFSA are more important than ever. Students should also consider their family’s ability to afford out-of-state and private school. Especially when in-state schooling is a far cheaper option.

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