The average cost of tuition and fees among public and private National Universities have indeed risen significantly over the past two decades.

The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020–2021 school year was $41,411 at private colleges, $11,171 for state residents at public colleges, and $26,809 for out-of-state students at state schools.

Nonetheless, the problems with college tuition costs are not limited to these universities; it also extends to other four-year institutions and community colleges.

Due to these higher prices, it is not incorrect to state that today’s college payment is very expensive!

If I were a student today, there are chances that I could give almost equal consideration to price as I would give to academics.

Will college tuition ever go down?

In fact, most families today make their final college decision based on financial considerations. 

However, it is important for prospective college students to know that they may not get to pay the actual amount listed as tuition after all.

Financial aid and institutional grants may reduce the amount you eventually pay; hence, I’ll advise families and prospective students to look beyond published prices.

To help families and prospective college-bound students understand what they need to know about tuition costs, I’ll address a few tuition costs concerns in this article.

The first question prospective students and their families are likely to ask is how much college tuition is. However, tuition and fees are not the same across colleges.

Effects of rising college tuition

In terms of price, the average sticker price of college tuition is about 73% higher than the average tuition and fees for an in-state public National university.

According to data collected in the College Board’s annual survey, in-state, in-district students in Public two-year institutions during the 2019-2020 academic year had to pay tuition and fees cost of $3,730 on average.  

Moving on, people also want to know the difference between tuition and fees.

Tuition is basically the amount of money required for instruction. It is usually the most significant chunk of college costs.

However, students, especially those at the undergraduate level, often have to pay fees, which are mainly costs paid to enroll in and attend class.

Additionally, the cost of college attendance isn’t always clear, especially after families who don’t pay the sticker price factor in financial aid and institutional grants into the bill.

I usually advise families to fill out the net price calculator on the website of the schools they are considering. This will help clear up anything that isn’t clear and provide a better understanding of what is involved in the different options.

Professor Robert E. Lee Goodwin III Lecturing at the President's School for Young Leaders - Lake Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia - 19 AUG 2013

How to find tuition costs

Universities and colleges are required to provide an online net price calculator to help the first-time, full-time undergraduate students determine the cost of college over time based on the details the student or parent provides. 

For the purpose of clarity, the net price is the final price a student can expect to pay to attend an institution for a school year after deducting scholarships and grants. The net price is often lower than the published price. 

college tuition inflation chart

Interestingly, a few universities and colleges offer tuition to attend; however, they usually require work or service in exchange. For instance, United States Military Academy in New York and other service academies like it offer free tuition, room, and board to students, and they serve after graduation in return.

Other institutions without the after graduation service arrangement may offer free-tuition education but with specific requirements that could be in-school employment.

Also, students can benefit from state tuition-free college programs if they qualify for them. Many states have statewide promise programs for eligible students. However, they are mostly at the two-year institution level.

The opportunity to attend the institution tuition-free is based on residency and may consider other factors such as a program of study or household income. Other factors may include holding a high school diploma and other requirements, such as a minimum GPA.


The cost of education remains a significant financial burden for many families.

Besides tuition and fees, other expenses such as housing, food, and books, which students must also pay for, can run into thousands of dollars of college tuition costs a year.

While these expenses cannot be escaped, I’ll encourage families and students to commit to seeking out correct information to find the college tuition costs that may work better for them.