College costs have increased by 169% since 1980—but pay for young workers is up by just 19%

Today, typical college costs (including tuition and fees, room and board, and allowances for books and supplies, transportation and other personal expenses) range from $27,330 for public in-state university students to $55,800 for private nonprofit college students. When scholarships and grants are taken into account, average net costs for tuition and fees at these kinds of schools are closer to $2,640 and $14,990, respectively.

Though the pandemic and recent increases in higher education funding may have slowed the speed of rising college costs, a recent report from Georgetown University highlights the growth in the gap between how much young workers make and how much they must pay to earn a college degree over the past several decades. The report, titled “If Not Now, When? The Urgent Need for an All-One-System Approach to Youth Policy,” breaks down seven trends that have made it difficult for workers to transition from education to the workforce since 1980.

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