Tuition and fees at public universities increased less than 3 percent this academic year, the smallest rise in three decades, according to the annual College Board reports on trends in pricing and aid, reports the New York Times today.
“This does not mean that college is suddenly more affordable, but it does mean that the rapid growth of recent years did not represent a ‘new normal’ for annual price increases,” the report on pricing said.
“At the same time, the large increases in grant aid from 2009 to 2011 have slowed and have not kept pace with rising tuition. As a result, the amount students and families actually pay has risen as well. The average published annual tuition and fees for in-state students at public universities total $8,893, up 2.9 percent from last year. But most of these students pay far less: When grants and deductions of tax credits are taken into account, the net amount students pay is about $3,120.
“Only about a third of full-time students pay the full published tuition price with no assistance. And most students from families with income below $30,000 got enough aid to cover their tuition and fees, although they still have costs for room and board, which adds $9,498.
“The news is not as bad as it has been,” said Sandra Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the reports. The new data, she said, should calm fears that college costs are spiraling out of reach: “It does seem that the spiral is moderating. Not turning around, not ending, but moderating.” For out-of-state students, tuition and fees averaged $22,203, a 3.1 percent increase from last year. And at private four-year institutions, the average published tuition and fees are $30,094, up 3.8 percent from the year before.
“College prices have risen faster than the prices of other goods and services in recent years, even as family incomes have declined. And the economic recovery has benefited mostly those in the highest income brackets. Jane Wellman, a higher-education policy analyst, said the trend reports showed that many public institutions have made serious efforts to rein in their spending — especially community colleges, whose spending has declined sharply over the last decade. Continue reading “Public university costs leveling off”