College costs: running some numbers

How affordable are Idaho’s colleges and universities, compared to the competition?

The conventional wisdom, of course, holds that Idaho remains a higher education bargain, despite continued tuition and fee increases and a rather modest portfolio of  state-offered scholarships.

And a rough glance at the feds’ new college scorecard — touted by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address — appears to bear out the conventional wisdom.

Users can search the scorecard site on several dollars-and-cents metrics, such as graduates’ student loan debt and default rates.

Let’s focus today on what the site calls the “net price” of college. This is the bottom-line annual cost of college — after grants and scholarships are factored into the equation. In other words, the net price is how much students and parents have to pay, or borrow.

The figures are dated, from the 2010-11 academic year. But let’s use them for the sake of comparison.


Let’s start with the net cost at Idaho’s four-year public institutions.

University of Idaho: $13,253.

Boise State University: $13,082.

Lewis-Clark State College: $12,094.

Idaho State University: $11,440.


Now, let’s look at the state’s two-year colleges (figures for the College of Western Idaho aren’t available on the scorecard).

North Idaho College: $7,012.

College of Southern Idaho: $5,993.


Now, let’s look at an Idaho private college.

College of Idaho: $16,742.

And let’s also look at one of Idaho’s for-profit colleges.

University of Phoenix-Idaho campus, Meridian. $21,773.


Now, for maybe more of an apples-to-apples comparison, let’s look at the in-state costs at a few public universities in neighboring states.

University of Oregon: $14,699.

University of Nevada: $14,127.

University of Montana: $13,937.


And just to round out the comparison, let’s look at the net costs at a few private universities.

Northwestern University: $27,113.

Stanford University: $21,421.

Harvard University: $18,277.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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