New college costs data from the U.S. Department of Education will do nothing to allay concerns of families already struggling with college costs or have started saving for their child or grandchild’s higher education.
Tuition at four-year, public institutions has jumped 15 percent in two years, the DOE reports. Private school tuition has risen by almost 10 percent on average. The DOE has compiled a database of schools with the highest and lowest tuition and net price. It is accessible to the public on its College Affordability and Transparency Center website.
The website was created under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 to provide more transparency to college costs. While the numbers may be unsettling to parents, the lists were compiled to provide families with critical “information they need to make smart educational choices,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives."
These lists are a major step forward in unraveling the mystery of higher education pricing. For example, Pennsylvania State University had the highest in-state tuition among four-year public universities at $15,250 during the 2010-2011 school year. Add room, board, and other expenses and the tab rises to nearly $20,000. Among four-year private institutions, Connecticut University topped the list of highest tuition with $43,990.
In analyzing the numbers, The Atlantic observes that government support is one of the biggest factors influencing college costs, and over the past few years, “budget cuts have varied wildly from state to state,” writes Jordan Weissmann. “So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the most drastic price hikes have been concentrated in just a few places. Of the 100 schools which raised tuition most between the 2008-2009 and the 2010-2011 school years, 70 were located in six states--Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, California, and Washington.
Saving for college is a primary concern among households recently surveyed by Millionaire Corner. Fifty-six percent of investors in their 40s are contributing to the education of a child, and the same is true for more than 40 percent of investors in their 50s. These households typically pay 70 percent of college expenses. (Our research also finds that a significant share of grandparents are helping with college costs.)
One-third of investors in their 40s, and more than 40 percent of investors in their 50s say they’ve had to cut back on other areas of their budget to pay the educational expenses of a child. More than one-third (38 percent) of investors in their 40s and 29 percent of investors in their 50s say they have “major financial concerns” about these college costs.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.