Average college tuition 2022: How much does it cost to go to college?

A Credit Karma study

Updated

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The cost of going to college in the United States is a major financial commitment for both college students and their parents. Each year it seems that the average college tuition cost, as well as total student loan debt, continues to rise. And, according to a 2020 survey by Fidelity Investments, while parents plan to cover an average of 65% of the total cost of college, parents are on track to actually cover a median of only 33% of that total cost.

To help you get a clearer idea of the cost of college, Credit Karma conducted a study of the average cost of tuition in America, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics. To create this comprehensive report on average college tuition in 2022, we compiled data on every four-year institution in the each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This study includes public colleges, private-not-for-profit institutions and for-profit schools. Read on for more details about the average college tuition cost in America and in every state.

Key findings on college tuition and fees

The study found that the costs of tuition and required fees for college vary significantly depending on whether the student qualifies for in-state tuition. This variation in average college tuition cost between in-state and out-of-state students is due to the policies of public colleges and universities.

In general, tuition and fees are lowest for in-state students at four-year public institutions. At a public college, the difference in tuition between an in-state student and an out-of-state student can be very large. In Florida, the average cost of tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at a four-year public college is $20,830, while an in-state student pays an average of $6,132.

Meanwhile, the average cost of tuition and fees at a private not-for-profit four-year college is typically greater than the cost of tuition and fees for an in-state student at a public college. But out-of-state tuition costs at public colleges can easily reach the costs charged by private colleges.

Taking the combined average cost of tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students at both four-year public and private not-for-profit colleges, the average college tuition in the U.S. is $25,466 for the academic year 2021-2022.

However, that single figure conceals a lot of variables since it combines different types of colleges and different tuition costs, which includes being in-state or out-of-state. Below is a more detailed breakdown of average college tuition in the U.S.

Average college tuition by college type

Average college tuition can vary widely depending on whether the college is a private not-for-profit  school or a public school. In general, four-year private not-for-profit colleges tend to have higher tuition costs than public colleges, but the latter can have notably high tuition costs for out-of-state students.

Average tuition at private not-for-profit colleges

Looking at four-year private not-for-profit colleges, the average cost of tuition and fees in the U.S. is $33,230 in 2022. This figure was calculated based on the weighted average of every four-year private not-for-profit college’s average tuition cost in each state. While $33,230 is expensive on its own, what’s truly alarming is how much some of the most popular private not-for-profit colleges charge over this amount. Take the University of Southern California, for example: Its undergraduate cost of tuition and required fees in 2022 is $61,503. Note that the cost of tuition and required fees does not include room and board, let alone textbooks and other expenses.

Average tuition at public colleges

Public colleges tend to have larger undergraduate student populations than private colleges, though there are exceptions. Large state schools, like the University of Florida or the University of Arizona, are examples of public four-year colleges. In general, the average tuition cost at four-year public colleges tends to be cheaper than private not-for-profit colleges. However, it’s important to note that tuition and fees are typically higher for out-of-state undergraduate students at public colleges and universities.

The average cost for tuition and fees for an in-state undergraduate student at a four-year public college is $10,557 in 2022. For an out-of-state undergraduate student, the average cost for tuition and fees is $24,847.

Average college tuition by state

Looking at the average cost of tuition and fees by state reveals some notable exceptions in which the cost of private not-for-profit college tuition is less than the cost of out-of-state tuition at a public college. Below is a table that breaks down the average cost of tuition in every U.S. state, including the average in-state and out-of-state cost at public schools, the average tuition at private not-for-profit schools, and the most and least expensive schools among four-year public and four-year not-for-profit private schools.

State 4-year public college — In-state tuition and fees (avg.) 4-year public college — Out-of-state tuition and fees (avg.) 4-year private not-for-profit college —Tuition and fees (avg.) Most-expensive college Least-expensive college
Alabama $10,654 $24,743 $23,121 Samford University Huntsville Bible College
Alaska $8,040 $23,650 $19,640 Alaska Pacific University University of Alaska Southeast
Arizona $11,600 $26,662 $34,345 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott Arizona State University Digital Immersion
Arkansas $8,587 $19,109 $24,021 Hendrix College University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
California $9,708 $27,854 $37,224 University of Southern California University of the People
Colorado $10,661 $27,239 $44,193 Colorado College Colorado State University-Global Campus
Connecticut $14,154 $30,648 $49,620 Wesleyan University Charter Oak State College
Delaware $13,847 $33,605 $11,826 University of Delaware Delaware State University
District of Columbia $6,152 $13,004 $49,702 Georgetown University University of the District of Columbia
Florida $6,132 $20,830 $32,451 University of Miami University of Florida-Online
Georgia $7,712 $20,816 $34,160 Emory University Dalton State College
Hawaii $10,810 $30,061 $20,574 Hawaii Pacific University Brigham Young University-Hawaii
Idaho $7,975 $25,139 $6,016 Northwest Nazarene University Brigham Young University-Idaho
Illinois $14,597 $23,537 $39,958 University of Chicago American Islamic College
Indiana $9,896 $25,827 $35,456 University of Notre Dame Union Bible College
Iowa $9,670 $27,133 $36,901 Grinnell College University of Northern Iowa
Kansas $8,990 $22,064 $31,323 Ottawa University-Ottawa Haskell Indian Nations University
Kentucky $11,044 $24,512 $27,792 Centre College Kentucky State University
Louisiana $9,605 $20,681 $41,781 Tulane University Louisiana State University-Alexandria
Maine $10,403 $25,414 $40,660 Colby College University of Maine at Augusta
Maryland $9,319 $23,703 $47,768 Johns Hopkins University Coppin State University
Massachusetts $13,909 $28,725 $50,324 Bard College at Simon’s Rock Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Michigan $14,279 $29,560 $30,604 Kalamazoo College Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Detroit
Minnesota $12,066 $21,981 $41,138 Macalester College Bethlehem College & Seminary
Mississippi $8,910 $18,780 $19,693 Millsaps College Southeastern Baptist College
Missouri $9,706 $21,939 $28,502 Washington University in St. Louis Urshan College
Montana $7,170 $26,043 $32,755 Carroll College The University of Montana-Western
Nebraska $8,912 $21,415 $24,742 Creighton University Summit Christian College
Nevada $8,302 $23,999 $36,594 Roseman University of Health Sciences Nevada State College
New Hampshire $16,559 $30,842 $18,502 Dartmouth College Granite State College
New Jersey $14,528 $25,831 $39,431 Stevens Institute of Technology Thomas Edison State University
New Mexico $7,441 $21,436 $24,395 St. John’s College Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development
New York $8,316 $18,659 $43,250 Columbia University United States Merchant Marine Academy
North Carolina $7,274 $22,922 $38,290 Duke University Elizabeth City State University
North Dakota $9,971 $13,819 $20,994 University of Jamestown Mayville State University
Ohio $12,074 $22,469 $37,084 Kenyon College Miami University, Hamilton/Middletown
Oklahoma $9,079 $21,454 $30,797 University of Tulsa Cameron University
Oregon $12,099 $32,592 $45,120 Reed College Warner Pacific University Professional and Graduate Studies
Pennsylvania $15,889 $28,544 $43,834 Franklin and Marshall College Curtis Institute of Music
Rhode Island $14,003 $31,215 $47,625 Brown University College Unbound
South Carolina $13,102 $31,653 $28,758 Furman University University of South Carolina Beaufort
South Dakota $9,411 $12,813 $28,547 Augustana University Sinte Gleska University
Tennessee $10,275 $22,237 $30,467 Vanderbilt University Tennessee State University
Texas $10,556 $25,730 $39,723 Southern Methodist University The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Utah $8,518 $25,159 $7,458 Westminster College Brigham Young University
Vermont $17,569 $40,247 $48,141 Middlebury College Northern Vermont University
Virginia $14,139 $34,855 $27,678 Washington and Lee University Sentara College of Health Sciences
Washington $10,884 $31,992 $41,858 Whitman College Eastern Washington University
West Virginia $8,617 $20,821 $29,939 West Virginia Wesleyan College West Virginia University Institute of Technology
Wisconsin $9,034 $22,399 $36,702 Beloit College University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee/Parkside Flex
Wyoming $6,277 $20,827 N/A University of Wyoming University of Wyoming

The state with the most expensive average four-year private not-for-profit tuition and fees is Massachusetts at $50,324. The state with the cheapest average four-year private not-for-profit tuition and fees is Idaho at $6,016.

Average college tuition by degree type

The type of degree a student is going for — namely, undergraduate versus graduate degree — is another variable that affects the average cost of tuition. Comparing the average tuition cost of an undergraduate degree to a graduate degree is interesting because there’s not much of a generalized pattern. In many states, undergraduate tuition is more expensive while in many other states, graduate tuition is more expensive.

Average undergraduate tuition and fees

Taking together all four-year private not-for-profit colleges and public colleges — both in-state and out-of-state tuition costs — the average cost of tuition and fees for an undergraduate in the U.S. is $25,466. When this figure is broken down, the average college cost of tuition and fees for a public school — combined in-state and out-of-state — is $17,702. For four-year private not-for-profit colleges, the average cost of tuition and fees is $33,230.

Average graduate tuition and fees

Similarly, taking together all private not-for-profit and public colleges — both in-state and out-of-state — the average cost of tuition and fees for a graduate student in the U.S. is $20,348. For public colleges and universities, the combined in-state and out-of-state cost of tuition and fees for a graduate student averages about $17,869 per academic year, slightly higher than the $17,702 for undergraduates. For private not-for-profit colleges and universities, the average cost of tuition and fees for a graduate student is $22,828, more than $10,000 less than the $33,230 average for undergraduates.

Breaking down graduate tuition costs further, the average cost of tuition and fees for an in-state graduate student at a four-year public institution is $11,966. This is slightly more than the corresponding undergraduate average of $10,557. For out-of-state graduate students, the average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year public institution is $23,772.

Relation between graduation rates and college tuition

There is a loose correlation between graduation rates and college tuition costs. Typically, colleges that have higher graduation rates tend to have higher tuition costs. This is likely because colleges with higher graduation rates also tend to have strong academic records.

However, it is only a loose correlation that doesn’t necessarily hold for every state. For example, in Georgia, the most expensive college in terms of tuition is Emory University and it has a graduation rate of 90%, one of the highest graduation rates in the state. By contrast, in Florida, the most expensive college is the University of Miami, which has a graduation rate of 84%. This is a solid graduation rate, but it’s less than the 91% graduation rate at the University of Florida, which costs far less (tuition and fees of $6,381 for in-state students and $28,659 for out-of-state students).

Conclusion

The study shows that, in general, the average cost of tuition at a private four-year not-for-profit college is more expensive than the cost at a four-year public college, whether in-state or out-of-state. However, it also shows that an expensive college tuition doesn’t automatically translate to the college’s academic quality.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the study is the difference between in-state versus out-of-state tuition at public universities. To take one example, at the University of California, Berkeley, the cost of in-state tuition and fees is $14,226. But for out-of-state students, the cost surges to $43,980, which is nearly $30,000 more than the in-state rate.

Average college tuition FAQs

Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about college tuition. These include questions about where college tuition is most expensive and most affordable, as well as if there are ways college tuition costs can be reduced.

How can the government lower college tuition?

Whether the government can lower college tuition is a complex question. Public colleges and universities are subject to the policies of state governments. Meanwhile, private not-for-profit colleges are not necessarily restricted in the same way. So trying to find a federal answer to lowering college tuition costs is fraught with difficulty, pitting federal and state policies against each other as well as federal against private policies.

Some suggest a boost to funding for financial aid programs. Publicizing the availability of financial aid — through greater transparency and information — could also help. According to the latest NCES data, 41.1% of high school students from low socioeconomic status families were not enrolled in a postsecondary institution by the time they graduated. This is unfortunate because it means that more than two-fifths of families who may be eligible for income-based financial aid ended up not going to college.

Which state has the lowest college tuition?

The answer to this depends on which types of college you’re looking at. For example, considering all four-year undergraduate colleges — including private not-for-profit and both in-state and out-of-state rates of tuition — the cheapest state is Idaho, with an average undergraduate cost of tuition and fees of $11,287 per academic year.

However, looking solely at the average tuition cost for an in-state student at a four-year public college, the state with the lowest tuition is Florida — with average tuition and fees of $6,132. The state with the cheapest out-of-state public college tuition and fees is South Dakota, with average tuition and fees of $12,813 for out-of-staters. And finally, the state with the lowest college tuition for a private not-for-profit college is Idaho again, at $6,016 per academic year.

Which state has the most expensive college tuition?

Like the previous FAQ, the answer to this one depends on how you look at college tuition costs. Taking into consideration all four-year private not-for-profit college and in-state and out-of-state public college tuition costs, the state with the most expensive college tuition and fees is Vermont, with an overall average of $38,525 per academic year.

Vermont also ranks as the state with the most expensive college tuition and fees when looking at four-year in-state public college tuition, with an average of $17,569. Vermont again ranks as the most expensive state when viewed in terms of four-year out-of-state public college tuition and fees, with an average of $40,247 per academic year. Lastly, in terms of four-year private not-for-profit college tuition, Massachusetts ranks as the most expensive state, with an average of $50,324 per academic year.

Methodology

Methodology: To determine the average cost of tuition in the U.S., tuition and fees data were sourced for every four-year public institution and private not-for-profit institution that award bachelor’s degrees in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool for the academic year 2021-2022. The average tuition and fees for graduate studies at these same institutions were also included. Average tuition costs for states and U.S. overall were calculated using a weighted average of the undergraduate and graduate student populations combined with the cost of tuition and required fees.

Sources