Annual Rise in Cost of Public College Slows

10/23/13
 
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from The New York Times,
10/23/13:

College Costs compared to other costs over time

Tuition and fees at public universities increased less than 3 percent this academic year, the smallest rise in three decades, according to the annual College Board reports on trends in pricing and aid.

“This does not mean that college is suddenly more affordable, but it does mean that the rapid growth of recent years did not represent a ‘new normal’ for annual price increases,” the report on pricing said.

At the same time, the large increases in grant aid from 2009 to 2011 have slowed and have not kept pace with rising tuition. As a result, the amount students and families actually pay has risen as well.

The average published annual tuition and fees for in-state students at public universities total $8,893, up 2.9 percent from last year. But most of these students pay far less: When grants and deductions of tax credits are taken into account, the net amount students pay is about $3,120.

Only about a third of full-time students pay the full published tuition price with no assistance. And most students from families with income below $30,000 got enough aid to cover their tuition and fees, although they still have costs for room and board, which adds $9,498.

College prices have risen faster than the prices of other goods and services in recent years, even as family incomes have declined. And the economic recovery has benefited mostly those in the highest income brackets.

About 60 percent of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2011-12 graduated with debt, averaging $26,500.

“We do not have a debt crisis but rather a repayment crisis,” said the brief, by Susan M. Dynarski and Daniel Kreisman of the University of Michigan.

Under their plan, recent college graduates would be able to make small payments, reducing their risk of default.

“The current system turns reasonable levels of debt into crippling payment burdens that can prevent young workers from attaining financial independence and stability,” the brief said.

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