- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2002


Declining tax revenue and the anemic economy caused college tuition and fees to increase more than 5 percent on average for both two- and four-year institutions this school year, a study released yesterday said.

Tuition and fees at four-year public institutions average $4,081, a rise of 9.6 percent from last year, according to figures released by the nonprofit College Board, best known as the owner of the SAT college entrance exam.

"As tax revenues decline, public colleges have searched for other sources of funding, and for many, that has led to tuition increases," said Gaston Caperton, president of the board. "But despite this year's increases, public colleges and universities are still a remarkable value."

State schools aren't the only places costs went up.

Tuition and fees at four-year private colleges also rose an average of 5.8 percent to $18,273 this year.

A 7.9 percent increase at two-year public schools caused tuition and fees to rise to $1,735, while students at two-year private institutions experienced a 7.5 percent increase to $9,890.

Philip J. Alletto, vice president for student development and enrollment at Westminster College in Utah, said that the tuition increases passed on to students during the past few years have not necessarily offset increased costs for colleges to do business.

"It gets trickier and trickier as time goes on" for schools to find money to pay for increased liability insurance, updated technology and travel expenses, he said.

Mr. Alletto said, however, that the figures do not signal the end of affordable higher education.

"I guess I'm an optimist, but I believe we'll find our way through this like we did during the economic problems of the 1970s and the enrollment decreases in the 1960s," he said.

"I think what happened is that everyone became too fat, dumb and happy in the 1990s when family income was up and we had donors with too much money to give away. Now we'll have to buckle down."

The board said that a record $90 billion in student financial aid including loans was handed out during the 2001-2002 school year, a boost of 11.5 percent over 2000-2001.

The report also said that 54 percent of student aid last year came from loans. A decade earlier, loans accounted for 47 percent of such aid.

Grants made up 39 percent of the aid provided to students, a decline of 11 percent from 1991 to 1992.

Mr. Caperton urged parents and students not to be discouraged by the figures. He said families need to weigh the cost of tuition against the long-term earning potential of a college degree.

The board is a national membership association made up of more than 4,200 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations.

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