At first, tuition for Hogwarts might not seem that bad. But no matter how magic you are, you can't fight inflation. And tuition inflation is grosser than a bad Every Flavour Bean.
"Tuition here costs whaaaaaaaaa?" (via YouTube)
A fellow over at Mic just did the number crunching to figure out the cost of a year's tuition at Hogwarts. Based on some sleuthing, he came up with the number $43,301 for tuition and supplies at the school of witchcraft and wizardry.
The problem I have with this piece is that it compares the Hogwarts tuition price to school tuition now, even though the first book came out in 1997. And I know that Hogwarts is a special place that is in many ways untouched by time, but I don't think that even all-powerful Harry can fight the evils of inflation. (Suggestion for J.K. Rowling: Potter-universe spinoff series about magical economists.) If you factor in inflation, I think that Mic's estimate is way off.
I'm going to compare Hogwarts tuition to college tuition here, because in terms of job placement, it's basically college.* If you're already a f*cking wizard and you also need a college degree to make a living, something is wrong. (But who knows — maybe the magic folk were also affected by the Great Recession.) According to this 1997 article from Time about college tuition inflation at Penn, tuition, room, board, fees, etc. around the time of publication totaled to $31,582. And according to Penn's own website, their whole package today is around $66,800. That's over double.
"I can smile about the tuition cost because I'm rich." (via YouTube)
I'm talking about a goddamn fictional school here, so I'm not going to take the time to calculate hard inflation percentages. But let's say, for the sake of example, that Hogwarts' tuition doubled in the same time period — after all, like Penn, Hogwarts is an exclusive, private institution with a pretty campus, old-timey buildings, and moving paintings (I can't actually confirm that last thing exists at Penn, but I assume that's something rich-people schools have). That means that if Hogwarts cost around $43,301 in 1997 dollars, we're talking around $86,602 a year today.
Witchcraft and wizardry public school is sounding like a pretty good idea right now.
* If you do happen to give any sh*ts about private high school tuition inflation, a friend told me that the private high school he went to, Taft, went from about $20,000 to $53,000 in the same time period.