Report: College costs rising less sharply, but aid down too

Posted by Renee Schoof on October 23, 2013 

The price most students actually pay for college _ after subtracting grants and federal tax credits _ is rising, the College Board reported today. Its annual “Trends in College Pricing” report, released along with a “Trends in Financial Aid” report, said that financial aid is no longer growing as much as it had been in recent years.

The pricing report says that while the cost of college keeps going up, the rate of increase has slowed. At public four-year colleges and universities, the average increase in price was 2.9 percent, the smallest one-year increase in more than three decades. Eighty percent of American undergraduates attend public four-year schools and community colleges.

“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 college pricing report said.

It said that increases in federal aid in recent years did not continue this year, adding: “As a result, many students are facing larger increases in the prices they pay, even in the face of smaller increases in published prices.”

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said in a statement today:

“The data from the College Board demonstrates a commitment by public institutions to keep costs in check. Despite seeing a sharp reduction in state appropriations of 19 percent and an increase in full time enrollment of 11 percent over the past five years, public institutions have worked very hard to constrain costs so as to limit the impact that reduced state funding has on tuition prices.”

He added that a decade ago, state funding covered two-thirds of the cost to educate a student, with tuition paying for the other third. Now students pay for two-thirds of the cost, because states have cut support, McPherson said.

At nonprofit four-year colleges, the increase over the previous year was 3.8 percent, slightly lower than increases of recent years.

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