What Does a College Use Your Tuition Dollars For?


Career Advancement

Once you pay your tuition bill, you could wonder what the college is using that tuition bill for. If you’re not quite sure, you might wonder substantially whether your college is using your tuition wisely or not. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of information you could use to understand more about spending tuition as a college. If you’ve ever wanted to know what your college tuition actually pays for, just keep reading to learn more.

What Does Your College Tuition Actually Pay For?

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Breaking Down $100 of Tuition

A college’s budget can be extremely difficult to parse if that’s the only thing you’re thinking about. However, if you break it down to $100 of tuition, it’ll be much easier to understand.

When you give a college $100 of your own tuition, first things first —on average, $61.46 will go directly to the costs of your education. The college will, on average, split it up like this:

  • $15.81 – Salaries
  • $11.47 – General Instruction Expenses
  • $9.61 – Auxiliary Student Enterprises
  • $8.26 – Academic Support
  • $8.15 – Institutional Support
  • $4.75 – Student Services
  • $3.41 – Grants and Financial Aid

What about that other $38.54? It will typically go to other things that allow the college to continue running but aren’t necessarily directly for the costs of education. On average, you’ll see colleges put it together like this:

  • $15.58 – Hospitals and Healthcare
  • $11.66 – Research
  • $6.25 – Other, Including Taxes and Liabilities
  • $4.52 – Public Services
  • $0.53 – Independent Operations

This type of budget helps a college continue to function while still providing extra opportunities for students and the community.

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Public Vs. Private: Which Is Better?

Public and private colleges both have their pros and cons. However, one main difference between the two of them is cost.

In the 2019/2020 education year, the College Board looked at students who were attending college and paying for tuition, fees, room, and board. For a student at an in-state public school, the average yearly cost was $21,950. However, for a student at a private school, that cost jumped to $21,950.

Essentially, at a public four-year college, students pay about $36 per class. At a private college, students typically pay closer to about $125 per class. These changes lead to a whopping $111,680 difference over four years at the current prices.

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Tuition Trends and Tuition as a Percentage of Public Higher Education Income

Tuition trends are another great way to understand a little bit more about higher education. For example, over the past decade, tuition has grown more than 25%. This has had a huge impact on many students, leading many of them to be unable to attend college now with this higher cost.

Another big change over the last few years has been the ways in which tuition has been a percentage of college revenue. Back in 2000, tuition only made up 29.2% of public higher education agencies’ income on average. However, in 2018, that number had climbed to 46.6%. That means public colleges are relying on tuition for nearly half of their money.


As you can see, tuition is in no way a clear-cut question. It’s important to always ask questions and make sure you’re learning as much as you can about the tuition information that you’re trying to find more about. That way, you’ll be most likely to end up with a great and well-informed opinion.


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