College tuition priced at $20,000 in 2002 $49,786.55 in 2024

College Tuition Inflation Calculator

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Prices for College Tuition, 2002-2024 ($20,000)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for college tuition and fees are 148.93% higher in 2024 versus 2002 (a $29,786.55 difference in value).

Between 2002 and 2024: College tuition experienced an average inflation rate of 4.23% per year. This rate of change indicates significant inflation. In other words, college tuition costing $20,000 in the year 2002 would cost $49,786.55 in 2024 for an equivalent purchase. Compared to the overall inflation rate of 2.51% during this same period, inflation for college tuition was higher.

In the year 2002: Pricing changed by 6.82%, which is above the average yearly change for college tuition during the 2002-2024 time period. Compared to inflation for all items in 2002 (1.59%), inflation for college tuition was much 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%).

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Buying power of $20,000.00 since 2002

Below are calculations of equivalent buying power for College tuition, over time, for $20,000 beginning in 2002. Each of the amounts below is equivalent in terms of what it could buy at the time:

YearUSD ValueInflation Rate
2002$20,000.006.82%
2003$21,675.828.38%
2004$23,729.419.47%
2005$25,501.017.47%
2006$27,210.276.70%
2007$28,912.656.26%
2008$30,715.826.24%
2009$32,561.666.01%
2010$34,253.105.19%
2011$35,973.985.02%
2012$37,718.724.85%
2013$39,311.824.22%
2014$40,763.943.69%
2015$42,178.473.47%
2016$43,313.672.69%
2017$44,179.352.00%
2018$45,156.332.21%
2019$46,445.652.86%
2020$47,084.821.38%
2021$47,493.930.87%
2022$48,520.162.16%
2023$49,454.471.93%
2024$49,786.550.67%*

* Not final. See inflation summary for latest details.
** Extended periods of 0% inflation usually indicate incomplete underlying data. This can manifest as a sharp increase in inflation later on.


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

Year197719781979198019811982198319841985198619871988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000200120022003200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920202021202220232024
CPI57.90059.90864.66970.83179.62390.32399.723109.938119.923129.631139.385150.000161.900174.969192.785213.515233.492249.792264.815279.800294.100306.523318.692331.869348.831372.631403.854442.115475.123506.969538.687572.283606.674638.188670.251702.758732.440759.495785.850807.000823.129841.332865.354877.263884.885904.005921.413927.600

Adjust college tuition prices for inflation

Start with the inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2024 / CPI in 2002 * 2002 USD value = 2024 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values from above. The CPI for College tuition and fees was 372.631 in the year 2002 and 927.600 in 2024:

927.600 / 372.631 * $20,000 = $49,786.55

Therefore, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $20,000 in 2002 has the same "purchasing power" as $49,786.55 in 2024 (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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