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New NCES Report Shares Recent Higher Education Finance Data

June 12, 2017

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) summarizes 50 indicators on issues spanning from prekindergarten to outcomes beyond postsecondary education. Higher education indicators include revenues and expenditures, enrollment, tuition and fees, student financial aid sources, and economic outcomes.

According to The Condition of Education 2017, between 2009-10 and 2014-15, revenues from tuition and fees per full-time equivalent (FTE) student increased at public institutions by 22 percent and private nonprofit institutions by 6 percent, and decreased at private, for-profit institutions by 9 percent. During the same time period, total revenues per FTE from federal, state, and local government sources combined decreased across all institution types, by 2 percent at public, 11 percent at private nonprofit, and 42 percent at private, for-profit institutions.

Colleges and universities in the United States spent $536 billion in academic year 2014-15; expenses on instruction accounted for the majority of institutional spending at both public (27 percent) and private nonprofit (32 percent) institutions. Instructional expenses per FTE student increased between 2009-10 and 2014-15 at two-year public (11 percent), four-year public (3 percent), and four-year private nonprofit (6 percent) institutions.

Undergraduate enrollment increased between 2000 and 2015 from 13.2 million to 17 million students.  Between 2009-10 and 2014-15, average tuition and fees these students paid for higher education increased across all institution types by 15 percent, from $10,000 to $11,600.

A variety of financial assistance programs helped students offset the cost of attending college, including federal, state/local, and institutional grants. At four-year institutions in 2014-15, 37 percent of undergraduate students at public, 33 percent of students at private nonprofit, and 72 percent of students at private for-profit institutions received federal grants in 2014-15.

In the same academic year at four-year institutions, institutional grants were awarded to 47 percent of undergraduate students at public, 82 percent of students at private nonprofit, and 31 percent of students at private for-profit institutions.

Among young adults ages 25-34 in 2015 who had full-time employment, the median earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree were 64 percent higher than for those who completed only high school ($50,000 vs $30,500).

The Condition of Education 2017 is available online.


Lindsay Wayt
Assistant Director, Research and Policy Analysis