College prices rise more than rate of inflation

By Justin Pope

The price of college again rose faster than the inflation rate this year, climbing 6.6 percent at four-year public schools and outstripping increases in the financial aid that lowers what most students actually pay.

The latest increases, reported Monday by the College Board, bring the average list price of four-year public universities to $6,185 this year, up $381 from 2006-2007. At four-year private colleges, tuition and fees rose 6.3 percent to $23,712.

Public two-year colleges – which educate about half of American college students – again got the best marks for keeping a lid on price increases. Their average price rose 4.2 percent to $2,361. Accounting for aid, their average net cost is only $320 per year.

“For too long, parents have grimaced and borne the high price of college because they presumed that a higher education is key to their child’s success in today’s economy,” said James Boyle, president of the group College Parents of America, in a statement on the report.

“Surely, the day will come – soon – when parents say enough is enough,” he added.

The College Board’s report does not try to explain why prices keep going up, though Sandy Baum, an economist with the group and at Skidmore College, points out that because of rising demand for higher education, more state appropriations have not translated into more money spent on each student.