The increase in average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges across the U.S. slowed for the third year in a row, but prices are still up 35 percent from five years ago after adjusting for inflation, said a recent pricing report released by The College Board.
The College Board, a non-profit membership organization composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations, announced in its Trends in College Pricing 2006 report that the increase in average tuition and fees for four-year public colleges in 2006-07 was slightly above the inflation rate.
After declining each year between 1996-97 and 2002-03, the average amount students pay at public four-year colleges has increased even more rapidly than prices for the past four years because financial aid has not kept pace.
In 2005-06, college students received a total $134.8 billion in student aid from federal and state governments and private contributors. In each federal student aid program, aid per student was lower in 2005-06 than it had been earlier in the decade. Both the total amount of Pell Grants awarded and the average Pell Grant per recipient were lower in 2005-06 than they had been in 2004-05.
Estimated tuition and fee charges at two-year public colleges averaged $2,272 this year, $90 more than last year, an increase of less than 0.5 percent above the inflation rate. After financial aid, full-time students enrolled in public two-year colleges and universities pay less than $100 on average in net tuition and fees.
Costs of tuition at four-year colleges add to the existing appeal of comparatively cost-effective two-year community colleges, which account for half of post-secondary students’ education across the nation. In California, tuition and fees at two-year public colleges were reduced 12 percent this year, and could see an even sharper reduction in January to $20 per unit.
In California, the estimated fees at two-year community colleges for the 2005-06 academic year totaled about $780 without financial assistance. According to Yuba College Financial Aid Director Marisela Arce, the amount a student should expect to pay is contingent on the amount of units he or she plans to take. The current cost per unit is $26.
Average out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges are 71 percent of average private four-year tuition and fees, but adding room and board, the cost of a year for an out-of-state student at a public four-year college is 77 percent of the average tuition, fees, room and board at a private four-year college.
Costs to attend private institutions in California are considerably steeper than those of public four-year and two-year colleges, and students with their hearts set on universities such as UOP or USC could shell out an expected $30,367 if they want to attach room and board, or $13,200 in net tuition and fees after grant aid and tax benefits.
Revenue reductions from public state and local appropriations were associated with rapidly rising public college tuition levels in recent years. Other important factors affecting costs include health benefits and particularly utilities, which have increased in price more rapidly than for prices of other goods and services needed by colleges and universities.
The Pricing Report suggests that demand for enrollment is expected to slacken over the course of the next decade. After several years of sharp cuts, state spending on higher education has been rising again nationally.
The problem, according to the report, lies in the hike in enrollment numbers and the increased demand for financial aid, accounting for less and less to spend per student, hence the adjustment to tuition and fees.