About Tuition Tracker

The Tuition Tracker online tool at shows the net price by income for a year of school at more than 3,700 U.S. colleges and universities. It is designed to help students and their parents find affordable colleges based on family income level.

The website is based on data that colleges report each year to the U.S. Department of Education. The site also shows the sticker price, or total published annual cost, to attend each school.

To analyze college affordability, the Education Writers Association, The Hechinger Report and The Dallas Morning News looked at four years of federal data showing what students in different income groups pay.

The focus was average net price. That’s the total cost — tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses — minus grants and scholarships from federal, state and local governments and the college.

Since the 2008-09 school year, colleges have had to report this information for first-time, full-time freshmen who received federal financial aid, including loans, grants and work-study jobs. Public colleges and universities report costs only for freshmen who paid in-state tuition.

The national and state trends shown are for schools that award mainly associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees. Specialty colleges, such as art schools or theological seminaries, were not included.

Average net prices were derived by weighting the cost at each institution by the number of students in each income group. Averages for 2008-09 were adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.