Do today’s college students get socked financially?

In my side job as a part-time lecturer at a state university, you can bet I hear plentyED000083 of complaints from students about how much it costs to go to college nowadays compared with the past. Parents join the whine, and sometimes professors do, too.

Just for kicks, I used the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator to see how many hankies to spend on this gripe. Using this online tool, I updated to today’s dollars what I spent on a few things in 1974.

In that year, I was self-supported. I split an apartment with a high school friend, transferred from a community college where I paid more as an out-of-district resident to a community college where I paid less, and bought a used Volkswagen Beetle. To pay for it all, I worked full time as an assistant manager at a restaurant.

Here are the 1974 prices:

  • Half the rent: $200/month
  • Groceries: $12/week (for one)
  • Gasoline: 69 cents/gallon
  • Tuition per unit: $10 (in-district community college)
  • Tuition per unit: $22 (out-of-district community college)
  • Used VW Beetle: $1,600
  • Minimum wage: $1.65/hour
  • My manager salary: $135/week

Here are the 2014 equivalents as determined by More