Tuition Rates and Aid Decline Show a College Affordability Gap
The Trends in College Pricing report, compiled by the College Board, found that in-state tuition fees increased by 2.9 percent for the 2013-14 school year. This is a drastic decline from the 8.5 percent increase of 2011-12 and continues the downward trend started by 2012-13′s increase of 4.5 percent. It is the lowest increase of in-state tuition in more than 30 years.
This is the bit that makes headlines: that tuition prices aren’t keeping pace with previous increases. The College Board even references this in the report: ”Although it is generally the published prices that make headlines, it is the net prices paid by individual students that matter the most for college access and affordability.”
The College Board arrives at its net price by averaging the price all students pay, also taking into account any aid a student is receiving. According to the organization, two-thirds of students receive some form of aid to finance their education. The net price adjusts the cost for those students to reflect the actual out-of-pocket expense, using that figure, along with the full tuition price one-third of students pay, to calculate the net tuition price.
As a result, the price of tuition is an important factor, but so is the amount of aid students are receiving. The net price of tuition, on average, stands at $3,120 for 2013-14. Adjusted for inflation, in 2007-08 the net price was $2,590, and it fell in 2009-10 to $1,940.