College Prices Keep Rising

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The cost of higher education got higher this school year, and the biggest increase was at public two-year colleges, where tuition jumped 7.3 percent, from $2,544 last year to $2,372, according to a new report.

While two-year colleges saw the biggest percentage increase in tuition, public four-year colleges saw bigger jumps in the median of their 2009-10 published tuition and fees: $406.

The findings are in a new College Board report called Trends in College Pricing 2009. The report comes with a series of caveats, such as how “increases in published prices do not necessarily correspond to increases in the amounts students pay, which also depend on the amount of grant aid they receive.”

The report was released along with another College Board report called Trends in Student Aid 2009.

Among the highlights of that report: In 2007-08, public four-year institutions gave roughly two-thirds of their institutional grant aid without regard to financial circumstances. Students from the lowest income families got an average of $570 in non-need-based and $760 in need-based institutional grant aid, while students from upper-middle-income families got an average of about $840 per student in non-need-based and $310 in need-based institutional grant aid.

That finding drew concern from the Institute for College Access and Success.

“Economic constraints can lead well-qualified students to lower their academic aspirations or give up on college altogether without adequate aid,” the institute said in a statement. “It is particularly disturbing that public colleges are using such large shares of their financial aid resources for so-called ‘merit aid’ in these tough times.”