Where can I find a list of all college tuition prices in the US?
February 26, 2014 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I work for an education non-profit. We are compiling a list of college tuition prices. Does anyone know of a site that might have something like this?

We use a program to compare colleges. We would like to have a spreadsheet with college costs for each college, with columns comparing total budget for on-campus, off-campus, and off-campus with parent.

In the past, we have used the College Board site and searched for each school individually to create our spreadsheet. Obviously, this takes forever so it was limited to the more popular schools for our students. Often the information on College Board is either missing or outdated for schools that are not as well known.

We could visit each college's website but again, it would take a very long time and since many colleges are moving towards showing a Net Price Calculator only, it may not be very helpful for this situation.

Ideally, we could download this data for the 2014-15 academic year but so far my Google skills haven't found what I need. Any ideas?
posted by brista to Education (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Department of Education has this list in Excel format. See the links at the bottom of this page.
posted by vacapinta at 6:40 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Forbes college ranking web-site does a good job of breaking this down.
posted by Flood at 6:48 AM on February 26, 2014

I know this doesn't answer your question, but I would really, really think through whether this is a good use of your time; in these days of tuition discounting the official tuition cost of a school has so little to do with how much students actually pay that it can be seriously deceptive, especially for first-generation college students and lower-income students who are less familiar with the financial aid system. I actually think the net-cost and average-cost-to-attend numbers are more useful (though still problematic).

I think 2014-15 data is going to be hard to find - some schools haven't even set their tuition prices for next year yet. There's no clearinghouse/downloadable spreadsheet of information because the information doesn't exist yet.
posted by mskyle at 6:58 AM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

I agree with the above. I'm deep in the college issue now as my daughter is getting close to deciding where she will going in August. College list prices are meaningless. At a lot of schools just having an SAT / ACT score above some threshold gets you a pretty big discount right off the top. Many public schools will also waive all out-of-state fees on that same threshold, making the out-of-state schools immediately cost competitive with in-state schools.

The entire process is confusing and frustrating and if your non-profit is trying to help with that you have my kudos. However, I'm not sure the list prices really tell you anything useful.
posted by COD at 7:28 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the IPEDS data center will allow you to access the information you need. It's a bit unfriendly, but I've fooled around with it in my own work and it seems to have some good info - usually the Dept. of Ed is the best resource for these kinds of things. You should be able to get net as well as official COA figures from there.
posted by Think_Long at 9:01 AM on February 26, 2014

You might try the NCES College Navigator.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:26 AM on February 26, 2014

One caveat: IPEDS and NCES data tends to lag significantly. Some datasets only include ratified data as recent as 2011, so just be aware of that before you use it.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2014

I disagree with mskyle and COD - and firmly believe that the list price of the college IS an important an relevant piece of information.

Sarah Lawrence and SUNY Binghamton have virtually the same rank, in terms of academic standing. They are both ranked in the 130s nationally, and both located in upstate New York. Sarah Lawrence however is the most expensive school in the country, SUNY Binghamton is among the top 50 least expensive schools.

Whatever financial aid, scholarships, or other help a low income student needs - they need A LOT more of it to attend Sarah Lawrence than they do to attend SUNY Binghamton - to receive nearly the same educational product in return. That is relevant information.

The list price IS an important indicator of the relative costs between schools.
posted by Flood at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thank you for all the suggestions! I realize that 2014-15 data would probably not be avaliable but I was hoping for at least 2013-14 somewhere. Oh, well!

Although list price is almost never the price our students end up paying (due to financial aid & scholarships), we use that price to help determine the gap students might end up with when financial aid doesn't add up to the actual cost of college. Using that info, the student may be eligible for grants/scholarships from our org.

Financial aid award letters also usually don't show the cost of college (even the estimated list price) so many times students don't realize there is a gap. This is especially an issue with private schools that offer really great scholarships but even with that awesome $10K scholarship, the student is still left with a huge gap. Knowing the gap between cost of attendance and actual aid secured is helpful so students can either pick a different college or at least know they will need to find add'l funding from loans or outside scholarships and can start working on that before the semester starts & the bill is due.
posted by brista at 8:37 AM on March 3, 2014

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