The Invoice

Photo of Hovde Hall in the 1940s. From e-Archives, PPBUC02111. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.
Hovde Hall in the 1940s. From e-Archives, PPBUC02111. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

The infrastructure of and opportunities available through higher education have expanded dramatically over the decades, but at a significant price.

In 1920-21, Indiana resident School of Agriculture students were expected to complete 43 semester credits per year to graduate in four years for $14.95 per credit hour (in 2018 dollars, adjusted for inflation). One year’s classes would cost about $642 in 2018 dollars.

In 2018-19, Indiana resident College of Agriculture students are expected to complete 30 semester credits per year to graduate in four years for $333.06 per credit hour. That’s $9,992 for a year of classes.

Many factors contributed to the 21-fold increase in student credit hour fees during the past century. These include:

  • significantly more facilities and services provided to undergraduate students today;
  • state appropriations to the university that are a much smaller portion of the annual operating budget; and,
  • the view that higher education is increasingly a private investment for personal development.

Purdue University Undergraduate Fees and Tuition, West Lafayette Campus, 1880-2018 (excludes special additional fees for designated curricula).*

YearIndiana Resident2018 DollarsNonresident**2018 Dollars
1880-81$14.00$346$14.00$346
1900-01***$27.00$810$27.00$810
1920-21$51.00$642$86.00$1,084
1940-41$108.00$1,944$208.00$3,744
1960-61$240.00$2,043$615.00$5,236
1980-81$933.00$2,853$2,270.00$6,942
2000-01$3,872.00$5,666$12,904.00$18,884
2018-19$9,992.00$9,992.00$28,794.00$28,794

*Due to variations in publishing dates of selected University documents, some listed fees may have become effective in the next academic year.
**Nonresident U.S. Citizens
***Due to added laboratory and library fees, juniors paid $31.00, and seniors $35.00 in 1900-01. A $25.00 non-resident “tuition” charge was introduced in 1901-02.

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