- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Price increases at colleges and universities moderated somewhat this year, but students who need financial aid are still relying increasingly on loans to pay for higher education, according to figures released yesterday by the College Board.

The average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year college reached $5,491 this year, up 7.1 percent from 2004-2005, according to the annual survey by the nonprofit group. That was the smallest percentage increase since 2001-2002.

Prices at two-year public colleges rose 5.4 percent to $2,191, while at private schools tuition rose 5.9 percent to $21,235.

The increases are below levels seen in recent years; last year, prices at public four-year schools rose about 10 percent, and 13 percent the previous year. But the cost increases are still well above the general inflation rate.

And while many students don’t pay the full “list price,” other figures released yesterday indicate student aid is not keeping up with need.

Student aid from the government and other sources did increase $10 billion to $129 billion in 2004-05, the last year for which aid figures are available. But for the third straight year, more of the increase came in the form of loans rather than from grants, which students do not have to pay back.

That isn’t necessarily a big problem for many families. Interest rates are low, and the increased earning power of a college degree is generally worth the average debt for undergraduate borrowers — $15,500 at public universities for a bachelor’s degree. But it is likely to compound concerns that families on the margins of being able to afford college are being priced out.

Including charges for room and board as well as tuition and fees, costs at public four-year schools rose 6.6 percent to an average of $11,376. At private four-year nonprofit schools, they rose 5.7 percent to $27,465.

However, only 12 percent of students are enrolled in colleges where tuition and fees exceed $24,000.

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