College costs rising, but at slower rate

Monday, October 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

College tuition rose at a somewhat slower rate this year, climbing 10.5 percent at public four-year colleges and 6 percent at private ones, a study found.

State budget cuts have forced public colleges to pass on more costs to students in recent years.

The College Board reported Tuesday that the average tuition for in-state students at four-year public schools is $5,132 this year. Last year, tuition rose 13 percent, the first double-digit increase in a decade.

Including room and board, the overall cost for in-state students at four-year public schools rose 8 percent to $11,354, following a 9 percent increase last year that was the highest since the early 1980s.

At private four-year colleges, tuition, room and board rose 6 percent to $27,516 this year, the College Board said.

Most students do not pay the full sticker price. If they were to get the same level of student aid as last year — those figures are not yet available — the average student would pay about $8,000 at a public four-year college this year.

At MU this fall, tuition is up 7.5 percent, said spokesman Christian Basi. In-state undergraduates are paying a minimum of about $3,537 for 15 credit hours, according to information from the Cashier’s Office.

The College Board study also shows that loans, as opposed to grants, play an increasing role in helping students pay for college.

Federal student aid rose 10 percent above inflation last year. Funding for Pell Grants, the primary support for low-income students rose 6 percent above inflation.

Loans through banks and other private sources accounted for 16 percent of education loans in 2003, compared with 7 percent in 1998.

The study does not include credit card debt. There has also been sharp growth in unsubsidized federal loans to students and parents.

Sandy Baum, senior policy analyst with the College Board, said the average student loan debt, about $20,000, is reasonable for college graduates, but poor students, who do not benefit as much from tax breaks, could be vulnerable if the trend toward loans continues.

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