PBL Pathways

Content Area

College Algebra

Time Frame

2 Weeks with Mini Lectures


April 1, 2008


point-slope form, line, slope, data, linear, rate

Project Title

College Costs


David Graser, Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ (David_Graser@yc.edu)


This project originated from an extensive data set of college costs published by the College Board. I needed a first project for my college algebra class that incorporated the concepts surrounding a linear equation and slope. Although this project could be done with almost any type of technology, I required my students to use Excel as well as Mathtype to help them document their work. In this project, each student was given a state for which the average college cost in 2004-2005 and 2007-2008 was known for two year colleges, public four year colleges and private four year colleges. For each type of institution, the student finds the equation of a line through the two data points and predicts when the college costs will double.

Project Content

Project Letter: DOC | PDF
Project Data: EXCEL | PDF

Scaffolding Resources

Technology Assignment 1: DOC | PDF - This assignment is designed to get the students graphing their data points on their graphing calculator and in Excel.

Technology Assignment 2: DOC | PDF - In this assignment, students will solve an equation algebraically and graphically. This should prepare them determining when their college costs have doubled.

How to Find a Point of Intersection on a TI Graphing Calculator PDF - This document shows how to put in two equations and find the point of intersection using the intersect command from the CALC menu.

How to Find a Point of Intersection in Excel PDF - This document shows how to find the point of intersection using GOAL SEEK in Excel.


Some states have institutions whose average costs are decreasing. If you choose to have your students find when costs double, don't choose one of those states.

Some possible options:


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