It is often debt by degree. Find out why.

CNBC reports.

Why does a college degree cost so much?

In February 1970, with the school’s storied quadrangle by the Charles River still in the grip of winter, Harvard University broke the bad news to students and their parents: Tuition was going up.

Their reluctant consensus raised the annual cost of attending the prestigious school in the fall of 1971 by $200—to $2,600. It was the first time since 1949 that the school, which was chartered in 1650, had boosted tuition two years in a row.

“It used to be that once in an undergraduate career tuition would increase,” acting dean John T. Dunlop told The Crimson, the student newspaper. “But from now on, unless inflation is halted, there’s no choice in the matter but to continue raising tuition.”

More than forty years later, tuition at American colleges and universities continues to surge ahead—much faster than the inflation Dunlop cited. This fall, Harvard’s annual tuition and fees (not including room and board) will set you back $45,278, more than 17 times the 1971-72 cost. If annual increases had simply tracked the inflation rate since 1971, next year’s tuition would be to just $15,189.

It’s not just the tuition costs at elite universities like Harvard that are outpacing the government’s Consumer Price Index.