Cost of Attending College Rose Faster Than Inflation, Reports Find

With institutions of higher education struggling to manage the effects of state budget cuts and declines in the value of their endowments, tuition and fees at colleges and universities around the country continued to rise in 2009-10, two new reports from the find.

The first report, (20 pages, PDF), found that the average published price of tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public colleges in 2009-10 was $7,020 — 6.5 percent higher than in 2008-09 — while tuition and fees at four-year private colleges averaged $26,273 8111 4.4 percent higher than the year before.

The report also found that tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose at an annual average rate of 4.9 percent above and beyond the rate of inflation from 1999-2000 to 2009-10 8111 faster than the 3 percent and 4 percent rates of the previous two decades. At the same time, the rate of growth at private four-year institutions (2.6 precent) and public two-year colleges (1.8 percent) was lower over that ten-year period than in either of the two previous decades.

The second report, (20 pages, PDF), found that although the amount of grant aid distributed to students increased significantly in 2008-09 (the latest year for which data is available), student borrowing also increased, as did the gap between available resources and the overall cost of attending college.

As was the case for tuition and fees, spending on food, housing, books, supplies, and other student costs increased more rapidly than the rate of inflation in 2009-10. Only at public two-year colleges did grant aid for the average student stretch beyond tuition and fees.

"It is vital that we assure access to a high-quality college education for all students," said College Board president Gaston Caperton. "While a college education is critical to long-term financial security, it feels out of reach to many students and families in today's economy. States and institutions must increase their efforts to reduce costs and to prevent tuition from rising as rapidly as it has in the past. We must provide generous financial aid for those who most need the funds and help students and families to understand the wide array of options available to them in our diverse educational system."

"." College Board Press Release 10/20/2009.