Average Cost of College Statistics for 2017

average cost of college

It’s no secret that the average cost of college is higher than ever in the U.S. and only continues to rise. But what does that actually mean — and how much does college cost for the average student?

The average cost of college typically includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies. The following statistics break down all the expenses for students who are in-state residents attending public and private four-year and two-year institutions.

Average cost of college by type of college

Average cost of college credits

Rate of increase in the average cost of college

Future average college tuition costs

Colleges with the highest tuition and fees

Colleges with the lowest tuition and fees

Colleges with the highest net price

Colleges with the lowest net price

Average amount of grant and scholarship aid

Student loan debt to pay for college, by loan type

Average earnings based on education

Average cost of college by type of college

The average cost of college can vary widely depending on what type of institution you attend as well as tuition and fees. Here’s the average cost of college for the 2016-2017 school year, by type of school:

  • Four-year public institutions for students enrolled in state: $9,650
  • Four-year private institutions: $33,480
  • Two-year public institutions for students enrolled in state: $3,520
  • For-profit institutions: $16,000

(Data from the College Board here.)

Average cost of college credits

Not everyone attends college full time. For people who are considering part-time attendance, the cost per college credit is more relevant. Here’s the average in-state cost per college credit for the 2015-2016 school year, by type of school:

  • Four-year public universities: $333
  • Two-year public universities: $140
  • Four-year private (nonprofit) universities: $1,072
  • Four-year private (for-profit) universities: $661

(Data analyzed by Student Loan Hero from the Department of Education here and assumes two semesters per year of full-time enrollment or 12 credits.)

Rate of increase in the average cost of college

Here’s exactly how much the cost of college tuition rose across the nation in the 2015-2016 year, by type of school:

(Data from the Department of Education here.)

Future average college tuition costs

Based on current growth rates, here’s what getting through college is projected to cost in 2035:

(Based on average tuition and fees for 2015-2016 as reported by the Department of Education and assumed to increase by this year’s growth rates as shown in the previous chart.)

Colleges with the highest tuition and fees

These schools ranked in the top five for highest tuition for the 2015-2016 year, according to college type:

Four-year public universities

  • College of William and Mary: $19,372
  • University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus: $18,192
  • Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus: $17,514
  • Colorado School of Mines: $17,353
  • University of New Hampshire-Main Campus: $16,986

Two-year public universities

  • Carolinas College of Health Sciences: $13,900
  • University of Pittsburgh-Titusville: $11,604
  • Marion Military Institute: $8,778
  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology: $7,430
  • White Mountains Community College: $7,344

Four-year private (nonprofit) universities

  • Columbia University in the City of New York: $53,000
  • University of Chicago: $51,351
  • Landmark College: $51,330
  • Vassar College: $51,250
  • Sarah Lawrence College: $51,038

Four-year private (for-profit) universities

  • Hussian College-Relativity Campus California: $39,600
  • School of Visual Arts: $35,000
  • West Coast University-Orange County: $34,481
  • West Coast University-Los Angeles: $33,675
  • West Coast University-Ontario: $33,675

(Data from the Department of Education here.)

Colleges with the lowest tuition and fees

Not all colleges are expensive. Here are the top five colleges for lowest tuition for the 2015-2016 year, sorted by type of college:

Four-year public universities*

  • Haskell Indian Nations University: $580
  • Dine College: $725
  • Colorado Mountain College: $1,556
  • Midland College: $1,968
  • Brazosport College: $2,385

Two-year public universities*

  • Luna Community College: $886
  • Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus: $1,036
  • Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute: $1,095
  • American River College: $1,104
  • Antelope Valley College: $1,104

Four-year private (nonprofit) universities*

  • Turtle Mountain Community College: $2,250
  • Curtis Institute of Music: $2,525
  • Grace Mission University: $2,690
  • Sinte Gleska University: $3,154
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho: $3,830

Four-year private (for-profit) universities

  • Baptist Health System School of Health Professions: $1,488
  • Aspen University: $3,750
  • Taft University System: $4,170
  • Atlantis University: $4,928
  • Columbia Southern University: $5,175

(Data from the Department of Education here.)

*University of Puerto Rico schools were excluded.

Colleges with the highest net price

The net price for each school is calculated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state, and local aid as well as institutional grants and scholarships available from the total cost of school attendance.

The total cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, books, supplies, and the weighted average of other expenses like room and board.

These were the top five most expensive schools in 2014-2015, by net price:

Four-year public universities

  • Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus: $24,992
  • University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus: $24,311
  • Colorado School of Mines: $24,297
  • Pennsylvania State University-World Campus: $23,220
  • Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Altoona: $22,318

Two-year public universities

  • Carolinas College of Health and Sciences: $41,647
  • River Valley Community College: $18,660
  • University of Pittsburgh-Titusville: $17,659
  • Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute: $17,132
  • NHTI-Concord’s Community College: $15,833

Four-year private (nonprofit) universities

  • Southern California Institute of Architecture: $48,730
  • California Institute of the Arts: $47,362
  • The Boston Conservatory: $45,272
  • San Francisco Art Institute: $44,999
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago: $44,378

Four-year private (for-profit) universities

  • Hussian College-Relativity Campus California: $47,578
  • School of Visual Arts: $41,261
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-Los Angeles: $39,602
  • Los Angeles College of Music: $38,837
  • West Coast University-Los Angeles: $38,109

(Data from the Department of Education here.)

Colleges with the lowest net price

These are the top five schools that cost students the least by net price in 2014-2015, sorted by college type:

Four-year public universities*

  • South Texas College: $1,306
  • Sitting Bull College: $1,494
  • Indian River State College: $1,547
  • Elizabeth City State University: $2,345
  • Palm Beach State College: $2,615

Two-year public universities*

  • Cleveland Community College: -$160
  • Oconee Fall Line Technical College: $636
  • Albany Technical College: $1,014
  • Lincoln Trail College: $1,120
  • Chattahoochee Valley Community College: $1,287

Four-year private (nonprofit) universities*

  • Simmons College of Kentucky: $698
  • Yeshivat Mikdash Melech: $1,422
  • Yeshiva Karlin Stolin: $1,745
  • Turtle Mountain Community College: $2,487
  • Talmudical Seminary of Bobov: $2,560

Four-year private (for-profit) universities*

  • Jamestown Business College: $7,991
  • San Ignacio College: $8,416
  • American Public University System: $10,265
  • Western International University: $10,407
  • Columbia Southern University: $10,902

(Data from the Department of Education here.)

*Colleges in Puerto Rico, Palau, and the Northern Mariana Islands were excluded from this data.

Average amount of grant and scholarship aid

Students can receive grants and scholarships to help pay for college costs. Here’s how this money was awarded during the 2014-2015 academic school year:

  • Four-year public institutions: $7,010
  • Four-year private (nonprofit) institutions: $19,960
  • Four-year private (for-profit) institutions: $5,160
  • Two-year public institutions: $4,980
  • Two-year private (nonprofit) institutions: $5,730
  • Two-year private (for-profit) institutions: $4,370

(Data from the National Center for Education Statistics here and reflects all income levels.)

Student loan debt to pay for college, by loan type

With the average cost of college on the rise, students are increasingly turning to student loans to help carry the financial burden.

Here’s how much student loan debt is out there for the second quarter of 2017, by loan program, and a breakdown of each loan type within those programs:

Loan Program Total Debt Number of Borrowers
Direct Loans $1,003.3 billion 32.1 million
FFEL Loans $320.5 billion 15.7 million
Perkins Loans $7.9 billion 2.6 million
Total (All Federal) $1,331.7 billion 42.3 million

Loan Type Total Debt Number of Borrowers
Stafford Subsidized Loans $272.5 billion 29.4 million
Stafford Unsubsidized Loans $449.6 billion 27.9 million
Grad PLUS Loans $55.7 billion 1.1 million
Parent PLUS Loans $81.5 billion 3.4 million
Perkins Loans $7.9 billion 2.6 million
Consolidation Loans $464.5 billion 12.0 million

(Data from Student Loan Hero here.)

Average earnings based on education

We know the cost of college is rising and that many students must take out student loans to cover those costs.

But is it worth it? Here are the median weekly earnings for people 25 and up in 2016, by degree type. Overall, there is an increase in pay with each degree type:

Highest Degree Earned Median Weekly Earnings
Doctoral Degree $1,664
Professional Degree $1,745
Master’s Degree $1,380
Bachelor’s Degree $1,156
Associate’s Degree $819
Some College, No Degree $756
High School Diploma $692
Less Than High School Diploma $504

(Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics here.)