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This paper provides an introduction to the economics of tuition and fees in American Higher Education. It summarizes data on undergraduate tuition and fee levels in public and private institutions, discusses the forms of financial assistance that students receive, and provides explanations for why tuition and fees for undergraduate students in both private and public higher education institutions in the United States have increased, on average, by 2 to 3.5 percentage points a year more than the rate of increase in consumer prices. Finally, it briefly addresses tuition and fees in graduate professional and doctoral programs in the United States.


Suggested Citation
Ehrenberg, R. G. (2007). The economics of tuition and fees in American higher education. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.