USA Today: College Costs Going Up At Slower Rate

USA Today’s recent article says college costs are slowly going up:

College Costs are Rising Slowly

7:21AM EDT October 24. 2012 – Sticker prices at America’s four-year public universities rose 4.8% this year, well below steeper annual increases in recent years, a report out Tuesday finds. But the rapid growth of federal grant aid in recent years also appears to be leveling off, and tuition continues to outpace inflation and growth in family income.

“We would expect that the economy is changing, family circumstances are changing, something would be changing in higher education as well,” says economist Sandy Baum, author of the report, released by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.

Baum urged families to focus not on sticker prices but on net prices — the amount families pay after scholarships and other grant aid is considered. About two-thirds of students receive some form of grant aid, which Baum estimates this year at about $5,750.

Using that estimate, the average net price this year for public universities is $2,910, up $290 from last year. At private universities, the average net price this year — $13,380 — is lower than the net price in 2008-09. Community college students receive enough aid to cover average tuition and put $1,220 toward other expenses.

The report notes declines in some student aid trends. Federal grant aid for undergraduates, which nearly doubled to $52 billion in 2008-09, fell to $49 billion in 2011-12, according to the most recent data available. Total education borrowing, including federal student and parent loans and private loans, declined by 4% — the first decline in at least 20 years.

Donald Heller, dean of Michigan State University’s College of Education, says a decline in enrollment could explain some of the changes. Student borrowing details are based on preliminary data that often are adjusted, he says, but he adds, “part of what we’re seeing is perhaps some resistance to borrowing.”

“All colleges and universities want to keep tuition affordable, and many have 
taken impressive steps to this end,” says Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, a Washington-based umbrella group for colleges and universities. “Without adequate support from state governments, we are fighting an uphill battle.”

Photo Credit: -JvL-

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