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New Federal Data Show the Cost of College Tuition, School by School

By guest blogger Madeline Will

With the price of higher education rapidly increasing and national student loan debt piling up, comparing college costs has become key for many prospective students and families.

The U.S. Department of Education this week updated lists that provide information on the costs to attend some 4,300 higher education institutions, as part of an annual effort to make costs more transparent and to give families and students more information to pick a college that's the right cost for them.

The lists showcase schools with the highest and lowest tuition and fees and average net prices. The data also highlights the institutions with the largest increase in costs over the past three years.

For example, the University of Pittsburgh is the four-year public university on the list with the highest tuition and fees—$16,590. Meanwhile, the public four-year school with the lowest tuition and fees is Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, at $80. The national average for that sector is $7,407.

"Empowering students and families with this information is critical to reaching President Obama's 2020 goal for America to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

The list features two- and four-year institutions, for-profits and nonprofits, as well as both public and private colleges and universities.

Obama (and the first lady, with her Reach Higher initiative) have spent the last few years promoting the importance of higher education and with that, college affordability and access. Last August, the president proposed a college-rating system to name the best value schools, with the idea that federal student aid could eventually be tied to such ratings. But the plan, which is currently in the works, has been criticized by some lawmakers and higher education officials.

For now, with the department's College Affordability and Transparency Center, students and families can see for themselves how fast college costs are going up. For example, the national average tuition and fees increase over three years for public, four-year universities is 13 percent and the average net price increase for that same sector is 14.4 percent.

Some of the institutions and facts that stand out in the list:

  • South Texas College, a public four-year institution in McAllen, Texas, had a 118 percent increase in tuition and fees from 2010-11 to 2012-13, when it reached $5,160.
  • Landmark College in Putney, Vt., tops the list of private, not-for-profit schools with a $49,793 tuition and fees bill.
  • The national average tuition and fees for four-year private, not-for-profit institutions is $23,698. With four-year for-profit institutions, it's $15,284.
  • As far as four-year,for-profits go, American University of Health Sciences in Signal Hill, Calif. has the highest net price of $66,743.
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