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Charts: The cost of higher education

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Founder and Editor, The Weekender

NOVEMBER 08, 2012

After narrowly escaping tuition hikes with the passage of Proposition 30 Tuesday, the UC Board of Regents will consider tuition increases for 61 professional degree programs at its meeting next week.

Graduate students across the UC could see increases of up to 35 percent. If the Regents approve the tuition increases, students at the Haas School of Business will see their tuition rise by $3,256 to $41,804.

Regents policy requires UC programs to consider the rates of peer institutions when determining their own tuition levels.

It’s anticipated that, if the Regents approve the tuition increase, total charges at most UC programs would be “below the average” levels at comparable public and private programs, according to the agenda item prepared by the UC Office of the President.

But, marketplace rates – the costs that other institutions charge – may not be the best frame of reference.

Below I charted pricing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from the past thirty years. The graph compares how the costs of higher education  have changed over time compared to other goods in the United States.

While the prices of other goods have increased fairly steadily, the cost of attending college has soared.

Here’s the equivalent chart for just the past six years – now with the change in average wage rates included:

Rapid tuition hikes appear to have quickly outpaced moderate wage growth, making the task of maintaining affordability even more challenging.

Contact Curan Mehra at  or on Twitter


NOVEMBER 09, 2012