Six-Figure College Tuition Is Very Nearly A Reality — But Why?

The cost of a four-year university education has been soaring for decades. Six-Figure College Tuition Is Very Nearly A Reality — But Why? Giphy

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Massive debt for college graduates is nothing new, but the constantly rising cost of tuition has accelerated in recent years. There are now a few colleges that are within a hair of charging $100,000 per year.

So let’s take a look at where we are and where all of that money ends up.

More than just an education

While learning is the most important aspect of college in the long term, there are plenty of other short-term concerns that add a lot to the cost of attending.

So far, Vanderbilt University is among the handful of campuses where the cost has soared to these heights. Reports indicate the latest all-inclusive tuition price is $98,426 per year for the Nashville college’s engineering program.

Most students pay much less

Only about one-third of Vanderbilt students pay the total cost, with the others getting some relief in the form of scholarships and/or financial aid. And of course, most colleges have much less expensive (though maybe not easily affordable) tuition costs.

  • In-state tuition to the average public college is just over $24,000 per year.
  • The annual cost of a private university tops $56,000.
  • 31% of public and 18% of private college students qualify for free tuition and fees.

But students and parents alike are increasingly aware of the soaring costs, even if they don’t fully understand why college has gotten so expensive.

Figuring out the actual value

Many Gen Zers are foregoing four-year college altogether … but for those who decide to take that route, it’s important to understand what that tuition money really buys.

In the case of Vanderbilt, more than half goes to faculty and staff salaries and benefits. The cost of keeping up with regulations also takes up a big chunk of that incoming revenue.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 6th, 2024
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