Everyday life is far more expensive today than it was even 20 years ago. The rise in prices can't be attributed to inflation, either.
In 1940, the median home value in the U.S. was $2,938. By 2000, it had risen to $119,600 and today it's just over $200,000. Even adjusted for inflation, the median home price in 1940 would only have been $30,600 in 2000 dollars.
Home prices aren't the only skyrocketing expense for today's young people. Education costs have risen at an alarming rate as well. College Board's "Trends in College Pricing 2017" report examines changes in tuition rates over time, showing how much more the class of 2018 is expected to pay than their parents did.
It's a lot.
Students at public four-year institutions paid an average of $3,190 in tuition for the 1987-1988 school year, with prices adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars. Thirty years later, that average has risen to $9,970 for the 2017-2018 school year. That's a 213 percent increase.
The difference is stark at private schools as well. In 1988, the average tuition for a private nonprofit four-year institution was $15,160, in 2017 dollars. For the 2017-2018 school year, it's $34,740, a 129 percent increase.
Here's College Board's breakdown of how tuition has changed by decade, with all figures adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars:
Private nonprofit four-year institution
- Tuition for 1987-1988: $15,160
- Tuition for 1997-1998: $21,020
- Tuition for 2007-2008: $27,520
- Tuition for 2017-2018: $34,740
Public four-year institution
- Tuition for 1987-1988: $3,190
- Tuition for 1997-1998: $4,740
- Tuition for 2007-2008: $7,280
- Tuition for 2017-2018: $9,970
To put those numbers into perspective, a 1988 graduate of Harvard University would have spent $17,100 on tuition during their senior year. Now, in their 50s, they'd have to pay $44,990 in tuition for their child to attend Harvard today.
That makes the current cost more than two-and-a-half times as much as it was in 1988 — a markup of 163 percent.
More likely, the hypothetical child would pay the tuition bill themselves, as the rising cost of higher education has led Americans to struggle with a collective $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.
In 2012, 71 percent of graduates from four-year colleges carried debt, with students at public schools owing an average of $25,550 and those with degrees from private colleges owing an average of $32,300, Student Loan Hero reports.
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