Photo of Eric R. Ebbert, CFP®, MBA, CEO Eric R. Ebbert, CFP®, MBA, CEO Feb 04, 2022

One of the biggest differences between attending college in the pre-1980s era and today is the enormous cost difference. These days, virtually every college student takes out student loans to attain higher education. While some gifted students are granted scholarships to cover the rising costs of education, there are sadly not enough to go around. These loans then sit on the graduates’ balance sheet for decades. This can greatly reduce their standard of living in the early years of employment. 

In the 1980-1981 school year, tuition at a private, nonprofit four-year college cost an average of $11,810 in today’s dollars. By 2021, that cost had risen to $38,780. Tuition at public four-year universities rose from an average of $2,620 to $10,980 per year. These tuition costs do not include things such as room and board, books, or transportation.

Could paying for college become easier in the future?

Thankfully for parents and students considering how they are going to pay for college, it seems like the rapid rise in college tuition costs may be finally easing. The College Board recently issued a report showing that public school tuition costs didn’t rise for the 2020-2021 school year, while private tuition declined very slightly. The trend became more pronounced for the 2021-2022 year, where private school tuition dropped by 1.6% and public school tuition fell 2%.

This may be due to simple supply and demand. University enrollment has been declining since 2012, and the pandemic accelerated the decline; undergraduate enrollment fell by 3.4% and 3.2%, respectively, in the past two academic years. The shrinking customer base made it harder for universities to raise prices. In addition, the various pandemic surges have shifted the college experience, periodically, away from campuses to online learning, which has reduced the overall quality of the college experience. 

How can I get started planning for my child’s college tuition costs? 

It remains to be seen whether lower tuition fees represent a trend or just a blip, but in this high inflation environment, the real cost of paying for college is below what it was two years ago — good news for students who may face a slightly reduced level of debt in their early working years.

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you navigate the ever-changing landscape for higher education costs. Whether your child will be going to college in 10 years or next year, ProVise Management Group is here to help.

Talk to a ProVise CFP® professional about paying for college

At ProVise Management Group, our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals can get to know you and your current financial circumstances, goals, risk tolerance and personal values to help you develop a plan that works for you. We can also create a written plan for you at a fiduciary standard of care. All our written plans come with an unconditional money-back guarantee. If you are unhappy with your written plan, you can return it to us, and we will refund 100% of the fee paid.

Are you ready to talk to a professional about planning for your child’s education? Contact ProVise today to schedule a complimentary consultation.