Oct 28, 2009

College Costs Continue to Rise Despite Bad Economy

According to figures released by the College Board, college costs continued to rise for the 2009-10 school year despite bad overall economic conditions. Responding to state budget cuts, four-year public institutions increased tuition and fees by an average of 6.5 percent, while costs for out-of-state students went up by 6.2 percent. In dollars, the price of attending an in-state public college or university increased from $6591 to $7020, while the same expenses for out-of-state students went from $17,460 to $18,548. Including room and board, the average cost of attending an in-state college or university now stands at $15,213.

Private nonprofit four-year institutions posted somewhat smaller percent increases in tuition and fees. For the 2009-10 school year, private schools went up an average of 4.4 percent—down from about 6% in previous years. With room and board, the average cost of attending a private 4-year college or university beginning in the fall of 2009 is about $35,636 per year.

The data compiled by the College Board appears consistent with a report published earlier this year by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, in which they gleefully announced that private school tuition increased by only 4.3 percent. At the time it didn’t appear cause for celebration particularly since the national Consumer Price Index actually declined by 2.1 percent, from July, 2008 to July 2009.

With all the bad news about college costs, there is a small silver lining. While tuition and fees continue to increase, the College Board reports that most students do not pay list price. About two-thirds of all full time undergrads receive grants of one kind or another. Students at public colleges and universities average $5400 in grant aid and tax benefits. At private institutions, students receive about $14,400 in grant and tax benefits, effectively reducing net tuition for these students to $11,900 from $26,300.

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