If you attended a U.S. college in the late 1960s, your parents might have worried about protests and other campus goings-on, but at least they were less likely to go broke paying your tuition bills.
How big a bite does sending the kids to college take out of a typical family’s income today compared to a generation ago? About twice as big. Since 1969, the average cost of college has almost doubled compared with the median family income. That cost includes tuition, fees, and room and board for full-time students at degree-granting institutions—for both public and private colleges and universities.
Back then, the average cost came to $9,502 after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2012, the average was $19,339. With a typical family earning $51,017—the U.S. median income—college tuition for just one child will absorb almost 40 percent of their income. That surpasses housing as the single biggest household expense.