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Chronology of College Expenses

by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe (revised 27 April 2017)

A college education may be the most valuable gift a child ever receives, but it may also be the most expensive. The cost of education is going up much greater than the rate of inflation.

Questions you may have include:

Shown below is a chronology of school-related expenses and trivia from 1940 to 2003.


Tuition at Yale: $50.


Pres. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill of Rights. The Serviceman's Readjustment Act provides housing and education for returning war veterans. The early voucher program authorized the Government to give checks to individual students, who were then free to spend them at public or private colleges of their choice.


The average salary for U.S. teachers was $11,890 in primary and secondary schools and about $15,000 for colleges and universities.


There is a shortage of 250,000 classrooms and 141,000 teacher in the nation, which is now faced with educating postwar babies.


The average freshman girl in college spends $361.60 a year on wearing apparel.


Tuition at Maria Regina H. S. (now Kellenberg Memorial High School) in Uniondale, New York, was $250. In 2000, it was $4,850 + uniforms.


Ivy League tuition is approximately $3,300 a year.


Tuition at the University of Connecticut is FREE.

An 8" Preserved Lab Rat used in school labs cost $2.50.

Tuition at Yale: $2,550.


Pres. Ford signs legislation requiring states to provide FREE education for handicapped students between ages 3 and 21, effective within five years.


Caroline Bird ("The Case Against College") says that if a 1976 Princeton graduate had banked the cost of his or her education plus the income lost during school, and had earned 7.5% interest on it, he or she would have had well over $1 million by age 64. That's more than the average college grad earns in a lifetime.


Tuition at the fictional Speedy U, where the Fonz enrolled for his degree in auto mechanics, is $300. (In 1991, BRYN MAWR College (PA)—an all-female school—offered for the first time, a workshop on car maintenance and auto repair.)


Tuition at Yale: $6,210.

The average cost of college tuition, room and board, is $5,000-$6,000.


Pres. Reagan signs into law tougher eligibility requirements for Guaranteed Student Loans and the requirement that borrowers pay banks a 4% origination fee on their loans.

For the first time, the cost of attending college will run into five figures. Harvard and Stanford Universities and Bennington College announce that costs for tuition, board, and room will top $10,000.


Lake Erie College in Painesville, OH, offers a special two-for-one discount on student fees--but it's limited to twins, and both of them must have passing grades.

Colorado State U. has 670 vending machines. The most profitable are the 80 video games that gobbled up 609,976 quarters. Total earned on all vending machines: $468,462.00.

Texas A&M University's new football coach, Jackie Sherrill, signed a six-year $1,722,000 contract. College athletics officials fear a "ripple effect" on salaries.


G. Gordon Liddy has become one of the most sought after lecturers on the college campuses. He received up to $5,000 per appearance.


Collegiate entrepreneurs at the Univ. of Colorado sell a semester's worth of notes for $14.

The price of the average hard-cover college textbook has risen from $3.72 in 1955 to $17.48 this year.

In an investigation called "Dipscam," the FBI cracked down on the sale of fake diplomas.

The Supreme Court upholds the ban on financial aid to students who refuse to register for the draft.

Students at the Univ. of Notre Dame held a sit-down strike and forced administrators to give in to their demand: an unlimited supply of Cap'n Crunch Cereal for breakfast.


MBA degree holders who begin careers in investment banking enjoy the highest average starting salaries: $32,447.


Youngstown State U., OH, offers a new undergraduate program in Mall Management.

Most young Americans think a college education costs three times as much as it actually does, a Gallop poll has found.

Adelphi University, New York Institute of Technology, and LIU got together to fly and bus in 40 guidance counselors from Mass., Penn., and Conn. for an all-expense-paid weekend to show off the advantages of life on Long Island, N. Y.


Prof. John Moshitta's 10-minute university, an audio-cassette featuring everything you need to know about biology, psychology, political science, and football, in yes, 10 minutes, costs $5.95.

1.2 million high school seniors spend $12.50 to take the SAT.


According to Harold Howe, II, former U. S. Comm. of Education, college is a bargain. On average, it requires about $12,000 per student to provide all the services at a residential college about 200 days a year. That works out to an average of about $60 a day.

The senior graduating from a private college this year will be in debt, on average, for $9,750.

Bill Cosby gave $20 million to Spelman College, Atlanta, GA.

College students who work from 5-20 hours a week during the academic year are more likely to graduate than students who didn't work.


Amherst College, MA, offers funds with its John C. Kimball Fund for a "worthy student of moderate ability who fails to get a prize or financial aid from any other source."


Nearly 60% of full-time college students in the U. S. receive some type of financial aid.

Bennington College, VT, was the most expensive college in 1989-90. Tuition for undergraduates is $16,495. The 2nd most expensive: Hampshire College: $15,070.

A study of college freshmen indicated that 70.7% believe the chief benefit of college is that it increases one's earning power.

An 8" Preserved Lab Rat costs $4.98.


At Juniata College, PA, left-handed students compete for a $20,000 grant.

The popularity of "L.A. Law" prompted a surge of law-school applications.


Almost 100 U.S. colleges offer rodeo scholarships.

A $960,000 retirement payout was given to a Suffolk County, NY, School Supt.


The College of the Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI, offers a two-year program in casino gambling.

A 14k gold ring (men's signet style) from Harvard costs $655 for the 1993-94 graduate.


According to Smart Money magazine, a transcript from a college in Dallas, TX, costs $10.

Scholarships are available to bowlers, caddies, children of soldiers or sailors, scuba divers, paperboys and girls, and Tupperware dealers.


Cornell Univ. Med. College accepted 249 applicants for its fall '96 class. They expected that about 100 would enroll. Instead, 119 signed up. So, Cornell offered to waive the year's worth of tuition ($24,000) for 15 first-year students who agreed to postpone their enrollment until 1997. That blunder cost Cornell $360,000.


The average compensation for a full professor at Penn is $121,000.

The average tuition charged at a private secondary school is $4,578 a year.

The chance that an American family can afford to pay full tuition at a private four-year college is 1 in 13 (Harper's Index).


The Univ. of Maine in Orono, is selling gift certificates that friends and relatives can give students to use toward the cost of tuition, fees, room and board.

In Dallas, TX, the school board is giving $1,500 signing bonuses to new teachers, regardless of experience. Beginning teacher there earn $28,500, plus the bonus.

A total of $425 million in grants will be distributed to the 50 states to help teachers and students learn to use the Internet.


"Gardner's Art Through the Ages" (10th ed.), the art-history student's bible, is $72.67.

Families are expected to spend an average of $408 per child on back-to-school items.

The average cost of a girl's school uniform is $57.22 or $85.06, depending on whether one chooses low- or high-end outfits. For boys, the average is $68.28.

The average annual tuition for four-year private institutions is $16,531.


A recent poll found that 56% of Americans would consider a career in teaching--if the salary were at least $60,000.

The federal government gave Palm Beach County, FL, $20,000 to pay a pair of teachers to teach elderly illiterates how to read.

Merrill Lynch Director of GLOBAL GROWTH RESEARCH, MICHAEL MOE, believes the online education market could be worth as much a $740 billion by 2003.

Williams College has frozen its tuition costs for 2000 at $31,520.

At Moeller H.S. in Cincinnati, Ohio, students have to pony up $2,200 for a DELL computer.


Scotland's St. Andrews Links, in conjunction with a nearby college, will offer Caddie Connect, the world' only college course in club assistance. Among other topics, you will study golf etiquette, grooming, and how to defuse a drunken duffer. PRICE: $215 for three weeks. (Tiger Woods' caddie made $1 million in 2000.)

The first school of Astrology—the Astrological Institute—received accreditation in suburban Phoenix, AZ. Students learn to write horoscopes and give advice about the future.

Many school districts are now e-mailing report cards and end-of-year grades. John Forbes, technology specialist with the Fresno, California Unified School District, said that posting grades for parents has raised expectations for students, who now know "that more eyes are on them."


In the beginning there were Cliffs Notes; now there's something new: SparkNotes. They are written and published by 20-somethings and are less pedantic.


Parents of first-year college students are spending as much as $2,000 to outfit their children for college. Wall-Mart began its own registry, WISH LIST FOR COLLEGE in July.

Families will spend an average of $450 on back-to-school purchases.

According to Steve Bryant, the median price for a private tutor is about $80 an hour (And beware of tutors who guarantee results).

The Web site, "" sells used copies of textbook at a substantial savings. (The price of educational books and supplies has risen 238 percent over the past two decades, according to the Consumer Price Index.)

At private four-year colleges, students spent an average of $807 on books last year. Some students, particularly science and math majors, spend that much in one semester.

The School at Columbia University—a new primary school located at West 110th Street and Broadway, New York—charges tuition of $22,000 a year. Salaries for teachers go as high as $100,000.


Tuition costs have gone up and schools often seem to spend money foolishly. But yet college still is an important venture.

Quality education is important

Resources and references

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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is a retired business educator and free-lance writer. When she attended New York University, tuition was $25 a credit. She writes from her home in Syosset, New York. You may contact her at

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