Fifty years ago, a year at a top-notch American private university cost less than $5,000. Today, the price tag is close to $50,000. Adjusted for inflation, a college education doesn’t cost a lot more than it did in the 1960s. But that doesn’t matter when you look at “real dollars” – it’s almost impossible for most families to come up with that type of money on their own. Even a public college education is out of the reach of many students.