College Tuition, Fees Rise Again, But Student Borrowing Continues Decline

Tuition and fees at the nation’s private and public colleges continued to rise this year at a rate similar to that of the last two years — and these expenses are outpacing both inflation and household incomes, according to new data released Wednesday by College Board.
Meanwhile, borrowing per student declined for the fourth consecutive year and was 10 percent lower in 2014-15 compared to 2010-11. The average loan debt for borrowers who graduated in 2014 is: $25,500 for public school graduates; and $30,200 for private school graduates.

Undergraduates received an average of $14,210 in financial aid in 2014-15, including $8,170 in grants from all sources, $4,800 in federal loans, $1,170 in education tax credits and deductions, and $70 in Federal Work-Study.
Average published tuition and fees for full-time, in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased 2.9 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $9,145 in 2014-15 to $9,410 in 2015-16.
Average published tuition and fees at private, nonprofit four-year institutions increased 3.6 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $31,283 in 2014-15 to $32,405 in 2015-16.
On average, full-time students at public two-year colleges pay $1,140 less in net tuition and fees — and $430 less in net tuition and fees and room and board — in 2015-16 than they did a decade ago.
38% More Than 10 Years Ago
However, because of recent increases, public four-year college students pay net prices averaging 38 percent more than 10 years ago.
At private, nonprofit four-year institutions, the estimated net tuition and fee price is just 1 percent higher in 2015-16 than a decade earlier.
“These data provoke a necessary conversation about college financing,” said Jack Buckley, senior vice president of research at the College Board. “As the price of postsecondary education continues to rise, we need innovative thinking around federal, state, and institutional aid that will allow all students and families to feel confident that they will be able to pay for college.”
The average published tuition and fee price is 40 percent higher in 2015-16 at public four-year institutions than it was in 2005-06, 29 percent higher in the public two-year sector, and 26 percent higher in the private nonprofit four-year sector. However, the report finds that these price increases are smaller than those in previous decades.
“The post-recession trends we documented last year have continued, with price increases that are moderate by historical standards and with continuing declines in student borrowing” said Sandy Baum, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-author of the 2015 Trends in Higher Education reports.
“However, the reports also document dramatic increases in published tuition and fees over time, as well as increases in net tuition and fees in the past few years, resulting from the combination of published prices that continue to rise and student aid levels that have not kept up. Assuring that our nation continues to provide access to affordable education for all who can benefit is a prerequisite for a healthy economy and society.”
See College Board’s Trends in Higher Education reports.

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