Tuition Increases Slow, But Less Student Aid Is Available

By Staff

According to a study published by The College Board, the trend of increasing college tuition has slowed at schools across the U.S. At the same time, however, the amount of financial aid available to students has slowed, and at many schools, decreased. This means that even if rising tuition and fees have been curbed somewhat, students are footing more of the bill for their educations out of their own pockets, whether as it is due or in the form of loans that they will be repaying into the future.

Tuition and Fees
Concerns about rising tuition and how students can afford to finance their major investments in postsecondary education are widespread. Solid insights into these questions require accurate and up-to-date information about prices.

The College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing 2013″ 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. We also provide information on the net prices that students and families actually pay after taking financial aid into consideration.

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.

The information in the report provides a great deal of information that can inform the discussion. A clear message that emerges from the data is that short-term trends can be misleading. In the past few years, as states, institutions, and families have been struggling with the impact of the Great Recession on their budgets, it has been too easy to project the accompanying trend of increasingly rapid price increases far into the future.

The 2013-14 increase in published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities is the smallest in many years. 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. That said, after large increases in grant aid in 2009-10 and 2010-11, especially from the federal government, growth in this student assistance has not continued.

As a result, many students are facing larger increases in the prices they pay, even in the face of smaller increases in published prices.

Financial Aid

The dramatic economic disruptions of the Great Recession had a major impact on colleges and universities, their students, and the multifaceted financial aid system that has developed to help students and their families pay for higher education.

The data reported in the “Trends in Student Aid 2013” study reveal that the sharp increases in federal grant aid and in student borrowing accompanying the financial crisis have not been repeated. Indeed, while the federal government continues to play a large and increased role in funding students, spending on both federal grants and federal loans decreased in 2012-13.