We track annual tuition (including required fees) and calculate a rolling compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The CAGR provides the year-over-year growth rate of tuition over time and describes the rate at which tuition would have grown if it grew at a steady rate.

We grant the Tuition Hero™ designation to institutions that have a tuition compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% or less. We use 2.5% because it is a good approximation of the consumer price index (CPI).

We include data from 2010 to the present. We granted our first Tuition Heroes in 2014.


Data on the Tuition Heroes™ website was derived from the College Affordability and Transparency Center.

The College Affordability and Transparency Center includes information for students, parents, and policymakers about college costs at America’s colleges and universities. The Center includes several lists of institutions based on the tuition and fees and net prices (the price of attendance after considering all grant and scholarship aid) charged to students. These lists meet requirements outlined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) and will be updated annually and posted on the College Navigator website by July 1.

The lists were generated using data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is a mandatory data collection for institutions that participate in or are applicants for participation in any federal student financial aid program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 USC 1094, Section 487(a)(17) and 34 CFR 668.14(b)(19)).


The data contains tuition (includes required fees) for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students at Title IV institutions. This includes institutions that charge students by academic year and institutions that charge by the program. Tuition and fees for the largest program were used for institutions that charge by the program. For institutions that charge different tuition for in-state, or out-of-state students, the minimum tuition was used.

Net Cost

Average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state, where applicable), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.