College & Workforce Readiness Report Roundup

Tuition Rose Faster at Public Universities

By Catherine Gewertz — November 10, 2015 1 min read

Students who attend public four-year colleges and universities are paying an average of 38 percent more in tuition and fees than they were a decade ago, according to data released last week. Those increases are far greater than the increases at two-year public colleges or at private, four-year institutions.

The annual study by the College Board shows that while net tuition and fees—the amount students pay after grants, scholarships, and tax credits—rose 38 percent in public four-year institutions between 2005-06 and 2015-16 to $3,980, that figure rose an average of only 1 percent in private four-year colleges and universities, to $14,890, over the same period, and actually declined by $1,140 in two-year colleges.

Likewise, the published prices for tuition and fees at public four-year schools—the so-called “sticker prices"—are up 40 percent over that time. In private four-year institutions, by contrast, published tuition and fees rose by 26 percent.

Average Annual Percentage Increases in Published Prices for Postsecondary Schools for Three Different Decades


Sources: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges; NCES, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

The College Board report notes that net prices in all higher-ed sectors declined between 2005-06 and 2010-11, but have risen since then. Recent annual increases are “moderate by historical standards,” according to report author Sandy Baum, while the rise in published tuition and fees over time has been “dramatic.”

But student aid has not kept pace with those rises, Baum added, and that has sparked concern about college access and affordability. A companion report to the college-pricing study notes that grant aid increased 56 percent in the decade ending in 2014-15, but only a small slice of that growth occurred in the last four years.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2015 edition of Education Week as Tuition Rose Faster at Public Universities


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