College Costs

For over two decades, the cost of tuition and fees at institutions of higher learning grew at a rate far above inflation and the growth in household income. Learn more about our College Costs work.

For over two decades, the cost of tuition and fees at institutions of higher learning grew at a rate far above inflation and the growth in household income. The federal government’s attempts to meet rising costs by increasing the size of available federal student aid is too costly to keep up and provides no incentive for colleges to keep their costs down. Students are the big losers: higher tuition bills can make it harder to stay enrolled full-time or may encourage them to choose less expensive options where they aren’t as likely to graduate.

We believe that controlling college costs can only be achieved by making colleges more productive. Universities must be more open to new and innovative forms of teaching that produce better outcomes for students at a lower level of expenses. They also must abandon the higher education arms race of constantly pursuing newer facilities and pricey amenities that have nothing to do with their actual mission of instruction. Our work highlights proven strategies that achieve these goals and ways that state and federal governments can change incentives to make colleges more willing to reduce costs.