Tuition hikes slow nationwide

At public four-year institutions, tuition increased less sharply this year.

Tyler Gieseke

As the University of Minnesota froze in-state tuition for this year and the next, the increase in public, four-year college tuition slowed to the smallest it’s been in more than a decade, according to a recent report.

Tuition and fees for public four-year institutions in the 2013-14 academic year increased by less than 1 percent from last year, according to the College Board’s 2013 Trends in College Pricing report, which was released last week.

At the University, tuition is the same as last year for in-state residents, but non-residents saw an increase of nearly 6 percent this year.

Other colleges and universities, like the University of Iowa, have also jumped on the tuition freeze bandwagon.

Rachelle Hernandez, associate vice provost of enrollment management and director of admissions, said she thinks an increased commitment to accessibility within the higher education community contributed to slowed tuition growth.

But in addition to the relatively low price increase, the report found that the net tuition and fees students pay have increased over the past few years, while federal grant aid has declined.

Reigning in the rise in prices

Tuition and fees increased by less than 1 percent this year, the report showed, compared with more than 3 percent the year before.

It was the smallest annual increase in prices since the 2000-01 academic year, according to the College Board.

Although the cost of college is still increasing, some students appreciate a slower rise in price.

“Regardless, it’s helpful,” communications junior Erica Hedtke said. “I don’t really know if you’ll make students happy overall with the price.”

But for some, the fact that college is a big financial burden remains.

“The price is still quite a bit,” said mechanical engineering sophomore Zach Warner.

The relaxed growth in college price tags comes after a significant surge around 2010.

In 2009-2010, the cost of tuition and fees at public four-year institutions increased by nearly 10 percent, followed by a 6.5 percent increase the year after.

Experts say there’s still work to be done, even if tuition increases aren’t as steep as in previous years.

“This year’s slowing of the price spiral does not mean that college is suddenly more affordable, that concerns about student debt will be set aside, or that low- and moderate-income students will no longer face financial hurdles as they pursue their educational ambitions,” said Sandy Baum, the report’s co-author, in an email.

“But it is good news,” she said, “and we hope it will allow more focus on helping students to access the available financial aid and to enroll and succeed in college.”

Net price increases

After a brief leveling at the end of the decade, the net price, or price students pay after financial aid, is again on the rise nationwide, the report found.

The average net price that full-time, in-state students pay at four-year public institutions is $3,120 this year, according to the report, up from $3,050 last year.

As net prices rise, federal grant aid has decreased in recent years, according to the College Board.

At the University, the percentage of students who received aid increased between 2008 and 2011, peaking at 88 percent, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Last year, that percentage decreased to 75 percent.  

“A college education is an unparalleled investment,” College Board President David Coleman said in an email.

“But there is no college opportunity without college affordability.”