U.S. Department of Education United States of America
U.S. Department of Education

College Affordability and Transparency List

College Affordability and Transparency Center List Methodology
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 Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended, and will be updated annually and posted on the College Navigator website by July 1.
About the list
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 2019 lists are based on data collected during the 2017-18 IPEDS data collection cycle, the most recent data that have undergone the full NCES data review process and been publicly released via the IPEDS Data Center. Institutions had the following year to review their submitted 2017-18 data through NCES publications, College Navigator, and the Data Center. Updated data submitted in the 2018-19 Prior Year Revision System are not included in the 2019 CATC lists because a full data review of the revised data is not possible by the July 1 release date. Furthermore, the 2018-19 Prior Year Revision System only allows for updates for three years back from 2018-19, which means the required average net price from 2014-15 needed to calculate the three-year change cannot be updated. Thus, data cannot be revised after the CATC lists have been released to the public.
The College Affordability and Transparency Center includes multiple lists as described below.
For institutions that base institutional charges on academic year
The following lists were generated
For each of the following institutional sectors
Highest tuition and required fees: A list of the five percent of institutions that have the highest tuition and required fees for the 2017-18 academic year
Highest net price: A list of the five percent of institutions that have the highest net price for the 2016-17 academic year
Lowest tuition and required fees: A list of the ten percent of institutions that have the lowest tuition and required fees for the 2017-18 academic year
Lowest net price: A list of the ten percent of institutions that have the lowest net price for the 2016-17 academic year
4-year, public
4-year, private not-for-profit
4-year, private for-profit
2-year, public
2-year, private not-for-profit
2-year, private for-profit
Less-than-2-year, public
Less-than-2-year, private not-for-profit
Less-than-2-year, private for-profit
For institutions that base institutional charges on an entire program (primarily career and vocational programs)
The following lists were generated
In institutions’ largest program areas (Examples)
Tuition and fees for career and vocational programs: A list of all institutions and the 2017-18 tuition and required fees for their largest program (e.g., the program with the highest enrollment)
Net price for career and vocational programs: A list of all institutions and 2016-17 net price charged for their largest program (e.g., the program with the highest enrollment)
Cosmetology and Related Personal Grooming Services
Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services
Somatic Bodywork and Related Therapeutic Services
Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technologies
Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment
Health and Medical Administrative Services
Culinary Arts
Business Operations Support
Precision Metal Working
Ground Transportation
Electrical and Power Transmission Installation
Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Refrigeration Maintenance
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication
Legal Support Services
For all institutions (both academic year and program-based)
The following lists were generated
For each of the following institutional sectors
Highest increase in tuition and required fees: A list of the five percent of institutions that have the largest increase in tuition and required fees, expressed as a percentage change, between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Highest increase in net price: A list of the five percent of institutions that have the largest increase in net price, expressed as a percentage change, between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
4-year, public
4-year, private not-for-profit
4-year, private for-profit
2-year, public
2-year, private not-for-profit
2-year, private for-profit
Less-than-2-year, public
Less-than-2-year, private not-for-profit
Less-than-2-year, private for-profit
* Institutions that are on these lists will be required to provide additional information about college costs to the Department. Further guidance about this additional reporting requirement is forthcoming. Note: Institutions where the dollar amount of the increase was less than $600 were exempted from these lists per HEOA.
Academic Year Charges versus Program Charges
Not all institutions have the same tuition and fee structure. While the law calls for lists of prices based on academic year charges, some institutions charge by entire programs rather than by academic year. Many of these IPEDS “program reporters” are career and vocational institutions. For the lists based on highest and lowest tuition and fees and net prices, institutions that report charges by program were extracted from the institutional sector based lists and listed by program instead.
"Program Reporter" Example
There are approximately 30 four-year institutions that report their charges to IPEDS by program rather than by academic year. Typically, these institutions offer career and vocational programs. Among two-year institutions and less-than-two year institutions, program reporters are more prevalent.
Provided below is an example of two four-year institutions (e.g., at least one of their programs offered requires four years of study) that report to IPEDS based on program charges for their largest program rather than on academic year charges:
Institution A
Institution B
4-year, for-profit
Largest program: Medical/Clinical Asst
Price: $10,750 for entire program
Length of program: 7 months
4-year, public
Largest program: Culinary Arts/Chef
Training Price: $25,588 for entire program
Length of program: 24 months
Data Notes
Tuition and Required Fees Data
The tuition and required fees lists are based on data collected in fall 2017 in the cost of attendance section of the IPEDS’ Institutional Characteristics (IC) component. The cost of attendance is an institution’s estimate of the total amount of tuition and required fees that a full-time, first-time degree-seeking undergraduate student will pay to attend the institution for the academic year, before financial aid is considered. For institutions that charge a comprehensive fee (a combined tuition, required fees, and room and board charge) for an academic year, the comprehensive fee was used as tuition and required fees.
Net Price Data
Net price data were collected in Winter 2017-18 on the IPEDS’ Student Financial Aid (SFA) component. Net price lists were generated from the average net price for a full-time, first-time degree-seeking undergraduate student who received grant or scholarship aid from the federal government, state/local government, or the institution. For public institutions that report tuition and fees for the full academic year, the average net price is based on students paying the in-state or in-district tuition rate and who received grant or scholarship aid from the federal government, state/local government, or the institution.
Methodological Notes
Highest and lowest tuition and fees and net price lists were generated for institutions that have full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students and report tuition and required fees for the full academic year. The 10th and 95th percentile for tuition and required fees and net price were generated by sector. Institutions were placed on the highest tuition and required fees list or net price list if their tuition and required fees or net price was greater than or equal to the 95th percentile of tuition and required fees or net price for their sector. Institutions were placed on the lowest tuition and required fees list or net price list if their tuition and required fees or net price was less than or equal to the 10th percentile of tuition and required fees or net price for their sector.
Highest increase in tuition and required fees and net price lists were calculated for institutions that have full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students and report tuition and required fees for the full academic year and for institutions that report tuition and required fees by program. For institutions reporting by program, the tuition and fees and the average net price of the institution’s largest program were used. Percent changes were generated as follows:
Percent change in tuition and required fees = ((tuition & fees 2017-18 – tuition & fees 2015-16) / tuition and fees 2015-16) * 100
Percent change in net price = ((average net price 2016-17 – average net price 2014-15) / average net price 2014-15) * 100
The 95th percentile for percent change in tuition and required fees and net price were generated by sector. Institutions were placed on the highest increase in tuition and required fees list or highest increase in net price list if their percent change in tuition and required fees or net price was greater than or equal to the 95th percentile increase in tuition and required fees or net price for their sector.