College has become expensive because prices have consistently risen at rates above inflation for quite some time.
A chart from this Wikipedia article shows cost of college since the 1980s shows tuition has increased about 3x cost of living and 2x medical costs.
If private industry raised prices so consistently, price gouging would be a common criticism.
The closest we seem to get to criticizing college costs is simply lamenting it, as if it’s just some force of nature that can’t be reckoned with.
If you are sensitive to price gouging in the private sector, can I ask why you aren’t as sensitive to it in college education?