Amount Students Pay for College has Barely Changed Over Last Decade

The amount that students actually pay for college — because of increased discounts, grants and tax benefits — has barely changed over the last decade, according to the latest report from the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education research and analysis series.  Trends in College Pricing, a major analysis of college cost and affordability using data from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, reports on the prices charged by colleges and universities in 2013-14, how prices have changed over time, and how they vary within and across types of institutions, states, and regions. It also includes information on the net prices that students and families actually pay after taking financial aid into consideration.

As the report notes, “The story is a complicated one, with different students paying different prices at the same institutions, depending on their financial circumstances; on their academic qualifications, athletic ability, or other characteristics; and on their year or program of study.”

Among the highlights:

  • The 2.9% increase in in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions in 2013‑14 followed increases of 4.5% in 2012‑13 and 8.5% in 2011-12 and was the smallest percentage increase in over 30 years.
  • Among full-time undergraduates at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions, the median published tuition and fee price in 2013‑14 is $11,093.
  • Because of increases in aid, the average net price for full-time in-state public four-year college students was $650 lower (in 2013 dollars) in 2009-10 than it was in 2008‑09. However, between 2009-10 and 2013‑14, average net price increased from $1,940 (in 2013 dollars) to about $3,120.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, enrollment grew by 123,000 (2%) in the public four-year sector and by 66,000 (2%) in the private nonprofit four-year sector. Enrollment in public two-year colleges was 159,000 (2%) lower in 2011 than it had been the previous year; it was 68,000 (3%) lower in the for-profit sector.

You can read the entire report here.

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