Costs are rising faster at public schools. Why?
College tuitions costs continue to rise at a faster pace at public four-year institutions than at private non-profit four year schools for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new report on pricing trends from the College Board. Average tuition and fees at the public colleges are up 8.3 percent in the current school years, while comparable costs at private colleges rose 4.5 percent.
The annual report, released on Tuesday, coincided with an Obama administration announcement of a plan to make college more affordable. The plan, highlighted yesterday in a speech Obama made to students at the University of Colorado in Denver, includes steps to ease repayment of federal student loans, including a cap limiting student loan payments to 10 percent of discretionary income.
Increases in college tuition costs have not deterred students from pursuing higher education, said the College Board, which reports a 22 percent increase in college enrollment between the 2005-06 and 2010-11 school years. “The fact that students are finding ways to finance their education is largely explained by the understanding that more education generally leads to higher earnings throughout life,” said the College Board in a prepared statement.
In-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions cost an average of $8,244 in 2011-12, while average total charges - including college tuition costs, fees and room and board – came to $17,131, an increase of 6 percent. Out-of-state tuition and fees are up an average of 5.7 percent to $20,770 in the current year, and total average charges rose 5.2 percent to $29,657.
College tuition costs are also rising at private colleges, though at a slower rate. The average tuition and fees at the nation’s private schools is $28,000 in 2011-12, while average total charges are $38,589, an increase of 4.4 percent.
“While the importance of a college degree has never been greater, its rapidly rising price is an overwhelming obstacle to many students and families,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. “This report is yet another reminder that we must do more to help disadvantaged students, many of whom face additional barriers to college that are not financial. The least we can do is slow the skyrocketing price of college and put the dream of higher education back within reach of every American.”
Actual college tuition costs are lower for the approximately 33 percent of full-time students who receive grants, and federal tax credits and deductions. The American Opportunity Tax Credit established in 2009 increased education tax credits and tuition deductions by more than 80 percent per student between the 2007-08 and 2010-11 academic years, the College Board said. In the 2010-11 academic year, undergraduate students received an average of $12,455 in financial aid, including grants, federal loans, tax credits and deductions, and federal work study monies.
The increases in public college tuition costs reflect state funding shortfalls and the overall continued impact of the weakened economy, according to the College Board. The national tuition increase of 8.3 percent was weighted heavily by the State of California. The average increase in college tuition costs, excluding California, was 7 percent.
The Golden State raised in-state tuition and fees by 21 percent, while Arizona and Washington raised in-state tuition and fees by 17 percent and 16 percent respectively. In contrast Connecticut raised its fees and tuition by about 2.5 percent.