The majority of all degrees in the United States are granted by public institutions, though private universities grant a fair share of Bachelor's and Master's degrees as well. During the 2018/19 academic year, more women than men were awarded Associate's degrees; a reversal from the trend in 1970. An Associate’s degree usually takes two years to complete and can qualify a student for a variety of technical or caretaking positions.
In recent history, state tax dollars provided the largest amount of revenue for public institutes of higher education. According to figures from the 2017/18 academic year, state appropriations provided 72.89 billion U.S. dollars nationwide to higher education. Student tuition and fees also provide a significant sum of revenue for these institutes, while many institutions also benefit from endowment funds. In the fiscal year of 2020, Harvard University had a total endowment fund value of 40.58 billion U.S. dollars, making it the richest higher education institution in the country.
The rising cost of tuition in recent years continues to scandalize the nation. Students attending Columbia University, one of the leading universities in the United States, are expected to pay 64,380 U.S. dollars for the 2021 academic year alone. Across the board, tuition costs have increased since the early 2000s. The total individual cost of attending a public, in-state university was 22,180 U.S. dollars on average in the 2020/21 academic year. The high cost of college has caused the value of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S., which amounted to more than 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars in the fourth quarter of 2020.