Public College Tuition Increased by 15% Last Year from Two Years Ago - Fastweb

Public College Tuition Increased by 15% Last Year from Two Years Ago

Mark Kantrowitz

June 13, 2012

Nationwide, in-state tuition at 4-year public colleges increased by 15.0% from 2008-09 to 2010-11, according to updated college affordability data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. (These figures do not appear to be weighted by full-time equivalent enrollment.)

Tuition at community colleges increased by an even greater percentage, 16.6%. Tuition at 4-year non-profit colleges increased by 9.7%, at 4-year for-profit colleges by 8.1%, at 2-year non-profit colleges by 13.5% and at 2-year for-profit colleges by 12.6%.

The net price, however, did not increase at double-digit rates. Net price subtracts grants from total college costs. The net price is the amount the student and his or her family must pay from income, savings and loans to cover college costs.

The net price for in-state students increased by 4.6% at 4-year public colleges and by 0.8% at community colleges. The net price increased by 6.1% at 4-year non-profit colleges, 6.7% at 4-year for-profit colleges, 16.3% at 2-year non-profit colleges and 10.9% at 2-year. Except at community colleges, the net price increased much faster than the overall inflation rate, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).

Cuts in state support are the primary cause of public college tuition inflation. According to the Illinois Grapevine report, states cut their support of higher education by an average of 7.6% this year. Public colleges compensate for the appropriations cuts in a variety of ways, such as by increasing tuition, cutting enrollments (fewer students to split a smaller pie) and by shifting enrollment to out-of-state and international students (who pay higher tuition rates).

Overall, the rankings of individual colleges according to tuition and net price did not change much. Pennsylvania still has some of the most expensive public colleges in the nation, with 23 of the top 33 by tuition and 9 of the top 33 by net price. Among non-profit colleges, Connecticut College ($43,990) unseated Sarah Lawrence College ($43,564) as the college with the highest tuition rates. Art and music colleges had some of the highest net prices. Among for-profit colleges, West Coast University had the highest tuition.

The College Affordability and Transparency Lists can be found at

See also last year’s story about the college affordability lists, US Department of Education Publishes College Cost and Net Price Rankings.

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