1915 Amherst College Swim Team, as shown in the Amherst College Olio
1915 Amherst swim team, as shown in the Amherst College Olio yearbook. Read more about Amherst College in the Money College Planner.Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College
1915 Amherst College Swim Team, as shown in the Amherst College Olio
Bowdoin College student room, 1916
1915 Bucknell University Baseball Team
Reading Room, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, 1915
Harvard University football player Captain Robert Treat Paine Storer (1893-1963), September 18, 1913
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts, between 1900 and 1920
View of New York University building from Washington Square arch, ca. 1912
Aerial view of Northwestern University, c. 1907
View of Arch "A", Oberlin, Ohio, May 25, 1909.
Women's Clubhouse at Stanford University, 1915
The Glee and Mandolin Club at the University of Georgia, as shown in the 1915 Pandora Yearbook.
Members of the 1913 University of Pennsylvania's varsity four-oared crew team at Poughkeepsie, New York, for an intercollegiate regatta.
Class in soil fertility inspecting sweet clover in University of Illinois, experiment field, near Odin, Marion County, Dec. 31, 1917.
A group of female archers with targets participating in a physical education class at Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison, 1915.
Football practice at Yale University between ca. 1908 and 1915
1915 Amherst swim team, as shown in the Amherst College Olio yearbook. Read more about Amherst College in the Money Coll
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Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College
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What College Cost 100 Years Ago

A century ago, you could buy a first-class postage stamp for 2¢, a gallon of gas for 15¢, and a dozen eggs for 34¢. If those sound like bargains, consider this: A year’s tuition at Harvard would have run you just $150, while Stanford and many state universities charged nothing at all.

In this time of growing concern about college costs, we decided to take a look back, to 1915, and compare what college cost then to what it does today.

Here’s what 15 well-known colleges charged for tuition in 1915, according to a contemporary report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and other sources, as well as what they cost now. We’ve also noted what those 1915 costs would be in today’s dollars had tuition gone up at the same pace as consumer prices in general, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.

The difference is instructive to say the least: a 2,263% rise in the consumer price index over the past 100 years, but a staggering increase of 42,930%, on average, in tuition costs.

Of course, the current tuition costs we quote are sticker prices that not every family pays, although that was true to some extent in 1915 as well.

For more advice on paying for college, and to create a customizable list of colleges based on criteria such as size, selectivity, and affordability, visit the new MONEY College Planner.

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