Some things are inevitable but, as new data about regional tuition inflation in the US recently released by The College Board indicates, however, the old standards of death and taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. The phenomenon of tuition inflation has, broadly applied, seen tuition rates at US colleges and universities increase at about twice the general inflation rate for more than two decades and this report reveals that the 2012-2013 academic year was no different. While the headline numbers show that the public in-state (4.8%), public out-of-state (4.2%), and private (4.2%) actually grew at a lower rate than the historical average of 6.2%, the rate is still higher than general inflation (2.16%) and, moreover, a closer look at the numbers reveals a still less-rosy picture beneath the surface.

Given the sheer scope of American higher education, national figures can obscure regional variations. Regional tuition inflation in the US is an important, but under recognized, consideration. Consider, first, published prices for tuition and fees. While the national average prices were just $8,655 for public four year institutions in 2012, for example, tuition and fees at the public colleges and universities averaged fully $14,576 in New Hampshire and $13,582 in Vermont. Although these figures represent the listed (or “sticker” price) of higher education in these states and therefore do not take into account scholarships, grants, and other financial aid that may ultimately reduce a given student’s final bill, this should serve as food for thought for bargain-hunting domestic and international students. After all, states at the other end of the spectrum like Wyoming and Utah had published prices of just $4,278 and $5,595 respectively.

Regional tuition inflation in the US varied in a similar way. Between 2007 and 2012, for example, tuition rates increased by only 2% in Maryland and 3% in Ohio but by fully 72% in California and 78% in Arizona. Though prices in Maryland and Ohio remain above the national average such discrepancies would suggest that domestic and international students alike would do well to price compare before deciding which school – or state – is the best financial fit for them.