Tuition Heroes is a College Decision Tool for Parents and Students

There are many criteria to look at when it comes to deciding on which college to attend. One of the most important criteria is tuition rates. We all realize that some colleges are more expensive than others. For example, the tuition level for a 4-year Private Not for Profit college is usually more than a 4-year Public Not for Profit college. But beyond the level of tuition, the tuition growth rate for a school needs to be considered.

Ideally, we would like to see colleges offer a fixed rate over 4 years, much like a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for a home. But most colleges won’t offer this logical financial arrangement. They increase the tuition rate each year. Yearly inflation hovers around 2% to 2.5% each year. So it’s somewhat reasonable to increase tuition at the same rate. But for the last 20 years, colleges have increased tuition rates much more than inflation. Now, we’re at a point where tuition for college is not affordable. Students have to take on huge student loans and spend years paying them off or defaulting on them.

This is where Tuition Heroes comes in.

Tuition Heroes tracks annual tuition levels (including required fees) for every higher education institution in America and calculates 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. If an institution’s CAGR is 2.5% or less, they are rewarded Tuition Hero status. We use 2.5% because it is a good approximation of the consumer price index (CPI), and tuition levels shouldn’t be growing faster than the CPI.

In 2018, only 26% of 4-year Public Not for Profit colleges in America made the cut. That’s a significant improvement since 2014, when only 12% were granted Tuition Hero status. You can adjust the criteria in the interactive chart below to see how the percentages changed by sector.

If you want to drill down to a specific group of colleges, visit our Who are the Heroes page.

Learn about our methods of granting Tuition Hero status.