By Beckie Supiano
This year’s report from the College Board on college pricing opens with what passes for good news: The annual increase in average published tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public colleges, 4.8 percent, is smaller than it has been in more than a decade. At private nonprofit four-year colleges, the increase was 4.2 percent, according to “Trends in College Pricing,” released along with a companion report, “Trends in Student Aid,” by the College Board on Wednesday.
But college affordability has become a hot topic in this election year, with Pell Grants, student-loan debt, and the value of a degree rate repeatedly references in presidential debates. Escalating tuition increases, the thinking goes, put a college education out of reach for many families. But the rhetoric is often not steeped in data. The national conversation about college affordability remains stubbornly focused on sticker price, although most students don’t pay that much.