The reports showed moderate increases in published tuition and fees, ranging from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent across all sectors between 2015-16 and 2016-17. However, that still exceeded the growth in financial aid, family income and the average price of other goods and services.
Meanwhile, total education borrowing decreased for the fifth consecutive year as undergraduates relied less on loans to finance their education, Inside Higher Ed noted in its story about the reports.
“The reports document that, despite the moderate increases in average published prices, there were considerable increases in net tuition and fees over the past few years,” said reports co-author Jennifer Ma, policy research scientist at the College Board, in the organization’s news release. “These increases, combined with stagnant incomes for many families, raise concerns about ensuring educational opportunities for low- and moderate-income students.”
IHE reported that Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a reports co-author, characterized the findings this year as a stark difference from what happened during the Great Recession itself, when borrowing spiked and tuition prices turned sharply upward. But the trends are a continuation of those that have been in place since the recession ended, she said.
“There’s no dramatic change this year,” Baum said. “Borrowing is continuing to decline per undergraduate student. Sticker prices are continuing to increase, but not at a really rapid rate.”
Key tuition and student aid findings as reported by the College Board include:
- Average published tuition and fees for full-time in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased 2.4 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $9,420 in 2015-16 to $9,650 in 2016-17.
- Average published tuition and fees for full-time out-of-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased 3.6 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $24,070 in 2015-16 to $24,930 in 2016-17.
- Average published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions increased 3.6 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $32,330 in 2015-16 to $33,480 in 2016-17.
- Average published in-district tuition and fees at public two-year colleges increased 2.3 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $3,440 in 2015-16 to $3,520 in 2016-17.
- In 2015-16, loans from federal and nonfederal sources combined constituted 36 percent of the funds used by undergraduates to supplement student and family resources—less than in any other year over the past two decades.
- Grants constituted 55 percent of the funds used by undergraduates to supplement student and family resources—the highest level over these years.
- Undergraduates received an average of $14,460 per FTE student in financial aid in 2015-16, including $8,390 in grants from all sources, $4,720 in federal loans, $1,290 in education tax credits and deductions, and $60 in Federal Work-Study.
- Grant aid per FTE undergraduate student increased by $750 (10 percent) in 2015 dollars between 2010-11 and 2015-16, after increasing by $2,390 (46 percent) over the preceding five years.
- Total Pell Grant expenditures increased from $15.5 billion (in 2015 dollars) in 2005-06 to $39.1 billion in 2010-11, but declined to $28.2 billion by 2015-16. The number of Pell Grant recipients declined in 2015-16 for the fourth consecutive year, but the 7.6 million recipients represented a 46 percent increase from 5.2 million a decade earlier.