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The Rising Cost of College in the U.S.

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average cost of college in the U.S.

The Briefing

  • Since 1980, college tuition and fees in the U.S. have increased by 1,200%
  • Because of the shift to online classes, 2020 saw the lowest tuition increase in the last four decades

The Rising Cost of College in America

The average cost of getting a college degree has soared relative to overall inflation over the last few decades.

Since 1980, college tuition and fees are up 1,200%, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items has risen by only 236%.

The Average Cost of College Over Time

Back in 1980, it cost $1,856 to attend a degree-granting public school in the U.S., and $10,227 to attend a private school after adjusting for inflation.

Since then, the figures have skyrocketed. Here’s how college tuition and the CPI have both changed since 1980:

YearAvg. Undergrad Tuition and Fees (Public) Avg. Undergrad Tuition and Fees (Private)CPI % Change (College Tuition and Fees)
CPI % Change (All Items)
1980$1,856$10,2270%0%
1990$2,750$16,590150.2%63.5%
2000$3,706$21,698382.5%117%
2010$5,814$25,250828.6%178.8%
2020$9,403$34,0591198.9%231.82%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. News
Note: Tuition and fees are in constant 2018-19 dollars. For public schools, in-state tuition and fees are used. All CPI % change values calculated for the month of January.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest year-over-year change in college tuition and fees was recorded in June 1982 at 14.2%— and over that same time period, overall inflation was up 6.6%.

On the other hand, November 2020 saw the lowest year-over-year change in the average cost of college at 0.6%, mainly as a result of the shift to online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, some schools are offering discounts to students, and some are even canceling scheduled tuition increases entirely in a bid to remain attractive.

Why is the Cost of College Rising?

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons behind the rapid surge in the cost of education, a few factors could help explain why U.S. colleges hike their prices.

  • Decrease in State Funding
    State funding per student fell from $8,800 (2007-08) to $8,200 (2018-19), while the share of tuition in college revenues increased.
  • Increase in Demand
    The demand for a college education has increased over time. Between 2000-2018, undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 26%.
  • Increase in Federal Aid
    According to a study from the New York Fed, every $1 in subsidized federal student loans increases college tuition by $0.60. Student loan debt has doubled since the 2008 recession.

Furthermore, the costs of providing education, known as institutional expenditures, have also escalated over time. These include spending on instruction, student services, administrative support, operations, and maintenance—all of which are critical to the student experience.

With student debt at unprecedented levels and ongoing public debates surrounding the rising costs of education, it’s uncertain how college tuition will evolve. However, given the onset of virtual classes, further hikes to college tuitions may be on hold for the foreseeable future.

Where does this data come from?

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Details: Data for the average cost of college comes from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for College Tuition and Fees. Overall inflation is measured by the CPI for all items (CPI-U). Data is seasonally adjusted and the reference base for the indices is 1982-84 = 100.

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Datastream

Ranked: The Performance of Restaurant Stocks on the NYSE

Restaurants are increasingly digitally driven, and this shift can be seen in the recent performance of the 18 restaurant stocks on the NYSE.

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restaurant stocks 12 month performance

The Briefing

  • In the last 12 months, the performance of restaurant stocks on the NYSE ranges from 90% to -21%
  • The average return for restaurant stocks has been 16.8%, underperforming the NYSE Composite’s 23.8% over the same time period.
  • Executing on a digital ecosystem has been a big driver of value for the best performers on the list

Restaurant Stocks on the NYSE

Restaurants, arguably more than other industries, have had to adjust swiftly to a new and unrecognizable landscape during the pandemic. And the level of preparedness towards adverse and unpredictable conditions reflects in the last 12 month (LTM) stock price performance of the 18 restaurant stocks on the NYSE.

The performance for this basket of stocks ranges from a high of 90% to a low of -21%. The companies that have rewarded shareholders are at the forefront of industry trends, doubling down on a digital ecosystem through concepts like membership programs, ghost kitchens, delivery, and mobile sales.

Winners and Losers

The vast division of stock price performance has a David and Goliath component to it in that the larger companies with deeper pockets have had the ability to invest in modern initiatives.

The top five performing stocks have an average market cap of $14 billion, while the bottom five possess an average of $630 million.

StockLast 12 Month PerformanceMarket Cap ($M)
Brinker International, Inc.90.85%$3,120
Shake Shack, Inc.88.63%$4,970
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.70.19%$40,580
Yum China Holdings, Inc.37.53%$25,090
Luby's, Inc.32.92%$98
Darden Restaurants, Inc.28.26%$17,900
Flanigan's Enterprises, Inc.16.10%$44
Yum! Brands, Inc.6.18%$31,060
Biglari Holdings Inc.2.90%$356
Cannae Holdings, Inc.-1.87%$3,420
McDonald's Corporation-1.88%$153,690
Restaurant Brands International, Inc.-2.81%$27,580
Aramark-4.82%$9,650
J. Alexander's Holdings, Inc.-6.12%$131
Dine Brands Global, Inc-9.25%$1,330
Biglari holdings (Class A)-10.20%$363
Drive Shack Inc.-11.82%$238
Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc.-21.23%$1,100

Digital Haves and Have Nots

The same types of initiatives appear to be paying off, especially for the biggest winners.

  1. Brinker International has exceeded expectations with its ghost kitchen virtual offering—It’s Just Wings. A ghost kitchen is a restaurant optimized strictly for delivery, with a no dine-in approach and a condensed menu, they are intended to achieve higher margins.
  2. Shake Shack saw 60% of shack sales go digital in Q3’20. Their digital footprint is expected to grow along with their target to open 50-60 new locations in 2021.
  3. Chipotle’s loyalty rewards member program reached 17 million members as of late. Furthermore, digital sales grew 177% year-over-year in their fourth quarter, and nearly 50% of revenues are now derived from digital orders.
  4. Dine-in Drought

    Those in negative territory have not had the same good fortune. They tend to be sit-down establishments suffering from drastic falls in foot traffic.

    Without a pre-existing digital presence to reach customers, sales run the risk of taking a nosedive. Hospitality workers are among those hardest hit by the pandemic, and a lack of demand for hospitality labor again points to the dire circumstances for some sit-down restaurants.

    Delivery Mania

    For the food industry, the fall in foot traffic is partially offset by the rise in food delivery. Pure play companies in the food delivery space like DoorDash and Grubhub have fared well. Grubhub reported 622,700 Daily Average Grubs (daily deliveries) in 2020, up from 492,300 from the year prior. And for Uber, growth in the delivery segment of their business has buoyed the decline in ride hailing.

    With the vaccine rollouts in play, the restaurant stocks on the NYSE may get a much-needed boost. But pandemic or not, the digital trends in the restaurant space will continue to shape the industry after COVID-19 just as it has done prior.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Top Foreign Stocks
Notes: Data is as of March 1, 2021

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Charted: Money Can Buy Happiness After All

We’ve heard that money can only buy happiness up to a certain point. But a new study suggests cut-off may be a lot higher than we thought.

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The Briefing

  • Previous research has indicated that money stops buying happiness after $75,000/year
  • However, new research finds a strong correlation between income and happiness, trending upwards even after $80,000/year

In One Chart: Money Can Buy Happiness After All

What’s the relationship between money and happiness? Previous studies have indicated that, while money can in fact buy happiness, it plateaus at approximately $75,000/year.

However, new research suggests otherwise.

Using over a million real-time reports from a large U.S. sample group, a recent study found that happiness increases linearly with reported income (logarithmic), and continues to rise beyond the $80,000/year mark.

Below, we’ll provide more details on the research methodology, while touching on a few possible reasons why higher incomes may improve people’s happiness levels.

How is Happiness Measured?

Past research on happiness relative to income has relied on retrospective data, which leaves room for human memory errors. In contrast, this new study uses real-time, logged data from a mood tracking app, allowing for a more accurate representation of respondents’ experienced well-being.

Data was also collected by random prompts over a period of time, with dozens of entries logged for each single respondent. This provides a more well-rounded representation of a person’s overall well-being.

Two forms of well-being were measured in this study:

  • Experienced well-being
    A person’s mood and feeling throughout daily life.
  • Evaluative well-being:
    Someone’s perception of their life upon reflection.

Both forms of well-being increased with higher incomes, but evaluative well-being showed a more drastic split between the lower and higher income groups.

The Results (Measured in Standard Deviations from Mean)

Annual IncomeWell-Being (Experienced)Well-Being (Evaluative)
$15,000-0.21-0.34
$25,000-0.11-0.32
$35,000-0.09-0.19
$45,000-0.06-0.15
$55,000-0.05-0.07
$65,000-0.03-0.04
$75,000-0.01-0.02
$85,0000.010.03
$95,0000.030.01
$112,5000.040.08
$137,5000.060.17
$175,0000.080.17
$250,0000.170.24
$400,0000.190.35
$625,0000.150.38

Why Does Money Buy Happiness?

The report warns that any theories behind why happiness increases with income are purely speculative. However, it does list a few possibilities:

  • Increased comfort
    As someone earns more, they may have the ability to purchase things that reduce suffering. This is particularly true when comparing low to moderate income groups—larger incomes below $80,000/year still showed a strong association with reduced negative feelings.
  • More control
    Control seems to be tied to respondents’ happiness levels. In fact, having a sense of control accounted for 74% of the association between income and well-being.
  • Money matters
    Not all respondents cared about money. But for those who did, it had a significant impact on their perceived well-being. In general, lower income earners were happier if they didn’t value money, while higher income earners were happier if they thought money mattered.

Whatever the cause may be, one thing is clear—Biggie Smalls was wrong. Looks like more money doesn’t necessarily mean more problems.

»Like this? Then you might enjoy this article, Which Countries are the Most (and Least) Happy?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Details: Participants were 33,391 employed adults living in the United States; median age was 33; median household income was $85,000/y (25th percentile = $45,000; 75th percentile = $137,500; mean = $106,548; SD = $95,393); 36% were male; and 37% were married

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