Over the last 20 years, the average published sticker price for tuition and fees, and room and board at private, non-profit colleges like Linfield increased by 59 percent while U.S. per capita personal disposable income grew by 32 percent. Since the tuition sticker price rose by more than income, you might conclude that a private college education has become less affordable.

But that conclusion could be wrong. To gauge affordability, we must think beyond the sticker price by properly measuring the cost students actually pay and compare that to the benefits of a college education. In economic terms, a college education is more affordable the larger are its benefits relative to its cost.



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