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Paying for College: Is College Cheaper in 2018 Than it was in 2008?

Paying for College: Is College Cheaper in 2018 Than it was in 2008?
Susan Dutca-Lovell

College is expensive, but is it as expensive as most people make it out to be? Not really, according to a study by The College Board. The study reveals that the actual price that students and their families pay is down nearly 5% from what it was ten years ago.

The College Board study calculates what people actually pay for college rather than the "publicly advertised price," according to Forbes. Although advertised prices for college have increased over the last decade - up 32% at public two-year schools, 37% at the public four-years and 26% at private four-year schools - students seldom pay the sticker price. With financial assistance from discounts, college scholarships and college grants, students and their families pay considerably less for a college education.

The cost of college for public, four-year colleges is an even more complicated story, where overall costs have increased "more noticeably" - up nearly 35% over the last ten years. More than half of that increase took place in 2011-2012, "when real costs surged almost 40%." Derek Newton at Forbes notes that if you "remove that single increase from the decade's numbers and the trend line is flat - up less than 1% overall across the remaining nine years."

So why do so many people believe that college costs are skyrocketing like never before? Former Vice President at Northeastern University, Nick Ducoff believes that "Main street media outlets have published headline after headline on runaway college costs and ballooning student debt so people think that is happening." He also thinks "parents tend to compare the cost of college to what they paid and to what their state's flagship public university is charging."

Is college really worth the cost? According to experts, a "college degree remains among the single best predictors of both employment and high earnings and it costs, in many cases, less than it did ten years ago. No other investment opportunity offers such predictable lifetime rewards at such stable costs."

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