Political  Calculations

Perhaps worse for students than a crowding out effect is the Bennett Effect, named for William Bennett, who 25 years ago as Secretary of Education wrote for the New York Times, "Increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions." - SmartMoney 

How much has the average cost of college at a four-year degree-granting institution risen since the 1976-1977 school year?

Our first chart below, drawing on data published in the Digest of Education Statistics: 2010 reveals the answer!

We see that the average cost of tuition and required fees at a four-year institution has risen from $1,218 in the 1976-1977 school year to $12,467 through the 2009-2010 school year. Tuition & Required Fees (In-State for Public Institutions) for All Four-Year Degree-Granting Institutions, 1976-2010

But how affordable is that? To find out, we calculated the ratio of the average cost of tuition and fees with respect to the median household income for each of these years, which will give us a pretty good idea of just how affordable college has become for the years since 1976.

Here, we've shaded the years where the cost of a college education rose the fastest with respect to median household income. These are the times in which the cost of college really inflated beyond the ability of a typical American household to pay for it. Ratio of College Tuition & Required Fees to Median Household Income, 1976-2010

Political Calculations

Political Calculations is a site that develops, applies and presents both established and cutting edge theory to the topics of investing, business and economics.

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