College tuition priced at $20,000 in 1990 $98,237.82 in 2019

Historical Price Inflation for College tuition

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Prices for College Tuition, 1990-2019 ($20,000)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for college tuition and fees were 391.19% higher in 2019 versus 1990 (a $78,237.82 difference in value).

Between 1990 and 2019: College tuition experienced an average inflation rate of 5.64% per year. This rate of change indicates significant inflation. In other words, college tuition costing $20,000 in the year 1990 would cost $98,237.82 in 2019 for an equivalent purchase. Compared to the overall inflation rate of 2.32% during this same period, inflation for college tuition was significantly higher.

In the year 1990: Pricing changed by 8.07%, which is above the average yearly change for college tuition during the 1990-2019 time period. Compared to inflation for all items in 1990 (5.40%), inflation for college tuition was higher.

Price Inflation for College tuition and fees since 1977

Consumer Price Index, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Years with the largest changes in pricing: 1982 (13.44%), 1981 (12.41%), and 1992 (10.75%).

Raw Consumer Price Index data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for College tuition and fees:

Year 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
CPI 57.900 59.908 64.669 70.831 79.623 90.323 99.723 109.938 119.923 129.631 139.385 150.000 161.900 174.969 192.785 213.515 233.492 249.792 264.815 279.800 294.100 306.523 318.692 331.869 348.831 372.631 403.854 442.115 475.123 506.969 538.687 572.283 606.674 638.188 670.251 702.758 732.440 759.495 785.850 807.000 823.129 841.332 859.430

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Buying power of $20000 since 1990

Below are calculations of equivalent buying power for College tuition, over time, for $20000 beginning in 1990. Each of the amounts below is equivalent in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1990 $20,000.00 8.07%
1991 $22,036.40 10.18%
1992 $24,406.05 10.75%
1993 $26,689.53 9.36%
1994 $28,552.71 6.98%
1995 $30,269.94 6.01%
1996 $31,982.77 5.66%
1997 $33,617.34 5.11%
1998 $35,037.37 4.22%
1999 $36,428.38 3.97%
2000 $37,934.58 4.13%
2001 $39,873.38 5.11%
2002 $42,593.86 6.82%
2003 $46,162.84 8.38%
2004 $50,536.36 9.47%
2005 $54,309.33 7.47%
2006 $57,949.53 6.70%
2007 $61,575.08 6.26%
2008 $65,415.26 6.24%
2009 $69,346.34 6.01%
2010 $72,948.59 5.19%
2011 $76,613.54 5.02%
2012 $80,329.29 4.85%
2013 $83,722.11 4.22%
2014 $86,814.68 3.69%
2015 $89,827.20 3.47%
2016 $92,244.83 2.69%
2017 $94,088.46 2.00%
2018 $96,169.12 2.21%
2019 $98,237.82 2.15%*
* Not final. See inflation summary for latest details.

How to calculate the inflation rate for college tuition, 1990-2019

Start with the inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019 / CPI in 1990 * 1990 USD value = 2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values from above. The CPI for College tuition and fees was 174.969 in the year 1990 and 859.430 in 2019:

859.430 / 174.969 * $20,000 = $98,237.82

Therefore, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $20,000 in 1990 has the same "purchasing power" as $98,237.82 in 2019 (in the CPI category of College tuition and fees).


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the Consumer Price Index for College tuition and fees in 1977. In addition to college tuition, the index produces monthly data on changes in prices paid by urban consumers for a variety of goods and services.

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