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Students Face Higher College Tuition, But More Financial Aid

Tuition continues to rise at public four-year colleges and universities&mdash increasing this school year by an average 7.9 percent, according to numbers released today by the College Board. At the same time, record increases in federal grant aid will help provide some relief for students.

Here's the breakdown of average tuition and fees for students in 2010-11 from the Trends in Student Aid 2010 and Trends in College Pricing 2010 reports, released by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center:

  • In-state, public four-year institutions: $7,605, a jump of $555 from the previous year, or just under 8 percent.
  • Private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities: $27,293, an increase of $1,164, or about 4.5 percent.
  • Public two-year colleges: $2,713, an increase of $155, or about 6 percent
  • For-profit institutions: $13,935, up $679, or about 5 percent over the previous year.

Tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities have increased at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent beyond inflation over the past 10 years. At public two-year colleges, cost have gone up 2.7 percent, and private nonprofit four-year institutions have had an average rise of 3 percent.

The report notes that despite rising published prices, the amount students have actually paid (once grants and tax breaks are considered) has increased more slowly than the Consumer Price Index over the past five years.

The silver lining in the report is the surge in Pell Grants that pumped in $28.2 billion in grant aid for 7.7 million students in 2009-10—an increase of almost $10 billion from 2008-09.

However, states are reducing support for higher education, the College Board found. Per-student state spending on higher education dropped by nearly 9 percent (adjusting for inflation) in 2008-09, and by 5 percent more in 2009-10.

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