Cost of Attending University – Camry College Cost Comparison

Written by: Tony Lin

As have been reported constantly for the past few years, the cost of attending university has been rising dramatically over the past decade and more.  Here at PrimeRates, we will take a look at this trend using the Camry College Cost Comparison, which is our own form of an inflation index.  To summarize the CCCC, it attempts to use the Toyota Camry as an easier measure of comparing the cost of attending university across time and different schools by measuring university costs in Camry that could be bought instead.  We feel that this is a better indicator of what college is worth because attending a university, like buying a car, is an investment that will hopefully get the individual father than they could have originally. In this edition of analyzing the  cost of attending university, we will be figuring out how many model year Camrys could be bought for a year’s worth of tuition, room, and board for Public 4-year Universities, Private 4-Year Universities, and Harvard University (the alma mater of the editor of this website).

 As you can see above, the cost of attending university as measured by the cost of buying a fairly basic 4 door Camry Sedan has risen slightly over the past 4 years.  However, this rise isn’t as steep as the dramatic reporting that has been done on the increase in college inflation in the past few years.  This is not to say that the cost of attending university has not increased dramatically, but, compared to the increase in price of buying a new Camry,  the cost of college has not risen too dramatically over the past two decades.  Over the course of 18 years (1993-2010), the cost of attending university in the US has risen approximately 40% when compared against the price of a new current model year Camry over that same time frame.

Breaking it down by university type, Harvard University in the Camry College Cost Comparison index has increased 49.68% from 1993 to 2010.  Considering that the CCCC already includes inflation, its a rather astounding number, especially since when you adjust for inflation, the middle class has not seen a wage increase in decades.  Of course, financial aid has made major gains since the early 1990s with Harvard among the leaders as those who earn less than $65,000 and have no significant assets aren’t expected to contribute at all.

On the other hand, the increase over the 18 year period for Private Universities and Public Universities on average were 69.9% and 93.9% respectively.  The problem with these numbers is that, since middle class wages have not increased in at least 30 years, the increase in costs will invariably be transferred upon the student.  Which is why you are hearing about the student loan problems that have seemed to plague everyone nowadays.  Unfortunately, that increase in costs is probably an actual increase in real costs as few universities, public or private, can boast the financial aid of Harvard and other elite institutions.


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