Annual Rise in Cost of Public College Slows

By Tamar Lewin

Tuition and fees at public universities increased less than 3 percent this academic year, the smallest rise in three decades, according to the annual College Board reports on trends in pricing and aid.

“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,” the report on pricing said.

At the same time, the large increases in grant aid from 2009 to 2011 have slowed and have not kept pace with rising tuition. As a result, the amount students and families actually pay has risen as well.

The average published annual tuition and fees for in-state students at public universities total $8,893, up 2.9 percent from last year. But most of these students pay far less: When grants and deductions of tax credits are taken into account, the net amount students pay is about $3,120.

Only about a third of full-time students pay the full published tuition price with no assistance. And most students from families with income below $30,000 got enough aid to cover their tuition and fees, although they still have costs for room and board, which adds $9,498.

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