The College Board released its annual “trends” reports this morning, and the findings represent a mixed picture for college costs and student aid.
The average sticker price at U.S. public four-year institutions rose 2.9 percent for 2013-14, the smallest annual increase in more than three decades, according to Trends in College Pricing. This comes after increases of 4.5 percent last year and 8.5 percent the year before.
Tuition at private nonprofit four-year colleges increased 3.8 percent, slightly lower than in recent years. The 3.5 percent increase for public two-year colleges, which is just $110, is typical over the long run, but the smallest since 2007-08.
Unfortunately, the companion report—Trends in Student Aid—found the tuition increase slowdown was accompanied by a decline in federal grant aid.
Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, the net prices paid by many students were held down by large boosts in grant aid and tax benefits, particularly from the federal government, even though published prices were growing rapidly over the same period. However, between 2010-11 and 2012-13, federal grant aid fell, according to the report. While grants per student from other sources increased, net prices rose at a time when family incomes have not recovered.
Melanie Corrigan, ACE’s director of national initiatives, told USA Today that economic and job growth will be key factors in enrollment trends while state appropriations and legislatures are the largest determinant of tuition levels. "For more than 40 years, we have seen increases and declines in enrollment — but the long-term trend has always been toward increasing enrollment. We don't see year-to-year fluctuations in enrollment having a big impact on tuition.”
“Institutions are committed to holding down costs,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad in a statement. “But it is equally important for state and federal governments to play their part to make college affordable.”
College Tuition Increases Slow, but Government Aid Falls
The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
Net Price Rising
Inside Higher Ed
Tuition Increases Slow Down, but There's More to College Affordability
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Students Paying More for College