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Cost of College Study

Explaining College Costs: NACUBO's Methodology For Identifying The Costs of Delivering Undergraduate Education

The goal of the NACUBO Cost of College Project was to develop a common methodology for calculating the cost of an undergraduate education at the full range of colleges and universities around the country.

In the fall of 1998, NACUBO assembled a group of experts to address these issues, the Ad Hoc Committee on College Costs. The challenge was to devise a uniform method to capture the costs of an undergraduate education and that met several criteria: simple to understand, based on existing institutional financial statements, applicable to all types of institutions, and produce reasonable results that are reflective of the fiscal reality of the institution. A one-page template was created that can be utilized by the wide range of colleges and universities in the United States to present their cost and price information in a uniform way.

NACUBO encourages institutions to annually issue cost and price information to students, families, and other stakeholders. Campuses may find this new methodology a useful tool by which they can do so.

Please let NACUBO know of the usefulness of the methodology on your campus.


In-Depth Analysis

  • "Explaining College Costs: NACUBO's Methodology for Identifying the Costs of Delivering Undergraduate Education." (Final Report, February 2002)
  • Methodology Instructions - Detailed instructions are available for the person who actually gathers the financial data for the methodology.
  • Reporting Template- A downloadable copy of the template is available for use on your campus. To save the Excel template to your computer, right click on the "Download Now!" link and click "Save Target As". Then, choose the location on your computer where you want to save the file.
  • ACE Letter of Commendation - Throughout the project, NACUBO worked closely with leaders of the six major education associations in Washington, DC that represent college and university presidents. Their support, advice and guidance were of tremendous value and they were appreciative of our initiative and perseverance as indicated in their letter of commendation.