Nov 5, 2010

How Much Does College Cost?


According to a report recently released by the College Board at its national conference in DC, college isn’t getting any cheaper. Average tuition and fees to attend a public four-year college in-state increased by 7.9 percent or from $7,050 in 2009-10 to $7,605 in 2010-11. This is on top of a 6.5 percent increase the year before. Out-of-state students saw a smaller increase of 6 percent and now pay an average of $19,595—up from $18,548.

Private nonprofit colleges posted somewhat smaller increases in tuition and fees. For the 2009-10 school year, private schools went up an average of 4.5 percent, from $26,129 in 2009-10 to $27,293, in 2010-11.

At both public and private nonprofit institutions, room and board increased by a little less than 5 percent. This brings average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, to $16,160, for students attending public college in-state. Out-of-state undergrads are charged an average of $19,595 at public institutions, and private school students are looking at costs totaling $36,993.

The College Board report, “Trends in College Pricing 2010,” appears consistent with findings published earlier this year by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), which also pegged increases in tuition and fees at private nonprofits at 4.5 percent. This follows a 4.3 percent increase for the 2009-10 academic year.

After several years of decreasing, net tuition and fees (tuition less all grant aid and federal higher education tax benefits) actually rose between 2009-10 and 2010-11, as grant aid and tax benefits did not rise enough to make up for increases in published costs. In 2010-11, full time students received an average of about $6,100 in grant aid from all sources—$16,000 at private nonprofits and $3,400 at public institutions.

Both the College Board and the NAICU point out that the net price of college has not been going up faster than inflation. For students and parents shouldering the expense, however, the very real increase in out-of-pocket expense might be more relevant.

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