Some of the variation in tuition and fees at public colleges and universities can be explained by differences in state funding, but other factors also contribute. Differences in income levels, cost of living, and state financial aid programs affect the relationship between tuition levels and college affordability.
Note: In this section, we show four-year in-state, four-year out-of-state, and two-year in-district tuition and fees. Four-year institutions offer lower tuition for state residents. Similarly, residents of a district in which a community college is located and funded pay lower tuitions than nonresidents, who may live in other parts of the same state.
Across the country, four-year in-state tuition and fees have risen in constant dollars since 2004–05. However, in some states, two-year tuition and fees have actually declined in real terms in since 2009–10. Four-year tuition and fees are higher than two-year tuition and fees in every state, but two-year prices in some states are higher than four-year prices in other states.
|Two year, in district||Four year, in state|
Across states in 2014–15, two-year tuition and fees were, on average, less than 40 percent of four-year in-state prices. Students attending four-year out-of-state colleges faced an average of 2.5 times the tuition and fees charged to in-state students.
However, these ratios vary by state, as do four-year prices. Four-year in-state tuition in 8 states was more than $2,000 higher than the national average, and in 12 states more than $2,000 below the national average.
Despite similar trends over time, neither two-year college tuition and fees nor out-of-state prices are strongly correlated with in-state tuition and fees at four-year institutions. States with relatively high four-year in-state tuition may have relatively low two-year or out-of-state prices.