Question: How Does Public College Tuition Compare to Household Income In Your State?

Aug 31, 2016
Paying for College, Research, Student Loans, Current Events, Chart of the Week, Math, Interactive

Great (and somewhat depressing) interactive from ProPublica which will allow students to…

  1. Select a state and see the change in yearly tuition at public schools from 2000-2014 AND Change in Median Household Income over that same period
  2. Pick a specific college or university and see the increase in tuition over from 2000-2014

Here is one example from the state of Virginia and how my alma mater stacks up against other in-state colleges/universities:

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Questions for students:

  • How does the increase in public college tuition compare to changes in household income in the state that you reside?
  • On a dollar basis, has household income increased enough to offset changes in tuition levels?
  • How does the school you selected compare to changes in tuition at other public universities/colleges in the same state?
  • Compare the percentage of household income going to pay the median tuition in your state in 2000 to the percentage of income going to tuition in 2014? How does such a change feel to households in your state?
  • What headline would you put on the charts comparing tuition increases to household income?
  • What questions might you have as you look at this analysis?
    • Do the tuition figures take into account financial aid (are they gross or net numbers)?
  • Five minute Webquest: What are the causes of public college/university tuition increases over the past 14 years?


Want to bolster your students’ knowledge about paying for college, check out this NGPF Case Study: What College Should I Attend?



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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