Public Colleges Slowing Tuition Hikes

October 23, 2013

Even though colleges have slowed the rate at which they raise tuition, the total grant aid available to students has not been able to keep pace with tuition growth, according to two reports released Wednesday by the College Board.

Public four-year institutions, after years of sharp increases, raised in-state tuition by only 2.9 percent this year, the smallest one-year increase in more than 30 years. Private, nonprofit four-year colleges increased their sticker price tag by 3.8 percent, which is slightly lower than recent tuition hikes.

In spite of these more modest rates of growth in published tuition prices, the net price of higher education -- what families actually end up paying after grants and other aid -- is ticking up in all sectors.

At public universities, the College Board estimates, students will pay net tuition and fees this year of $3,120 (up from $3,050 this year). In inflation-adjusted dollars, that’s nearly two-thirds higher than it was a decade ago. Similarly, the net price at private, nonprofit colleges is expected to jump by 4.4 percent this year to $12,460.

The average published price for community college tuition this year is $3,264, a $110 increase (3.5 percent) from last year. As has long been the case, federal grant aid and tax benefits, on average, cover the entire cost of tuition and fees at two-year, public institutions and also provide an excess of funding -- $1,550 this year -- to cover other educational expenses. Net tuition and fees at community colleges last year ranged from $0 for the lowest half of the income distribution to $2,280 for the highest-income group, the report says.

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