Students across the country are constantly struggling with financing their education, but how many of them really understand the data behind the expensive price tag?
College Board, a non-profit organization that has been a key factor in helping students navigate their college decision-making choices, has recently published their annual research on the costs of college, “Trends In College Pricing 2017.” Here are some of the most important takeaways from the report:
1) The tuition growth rate is slowing
At four-year public schools—like the University of Massachusetts Amherst—the increase in tuition and fees for colleges from the past year was only 2.9% (which is great because the annual increases haven’t been smaller than that since the seventies).
2) But that doesn’t college is any less expensive
Don’t get too excited—school isn’t going to become cheap just because the annual tuition and fees increase rate has been dropping throughout the past couple years. The net price of school, a.k.a what you are actually paying after you factor in financial aid and scholarships, has increased since 2010. How does that make sense? Because financial aid’s year-by-year growth isn’t in sync with the increasing college tuition.
3) Could moving states help?
Shouldn’t in-state tuition be affordable? Since the 2012-2013 year, in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions increased by 20% or more in eight states within inflation-adjusted terms. Nine states’ inflation-adjusted tuition and fees decreased or increased by less than 5%. The highest in-state prices for four-year schools are in Michigan ($36,840) and Vermont ($38,990) while the lowest is in South Dakota ($12,480) and Wyoming ($16,830). In other words, don’t count on moving without doing some in-state tuition research first.
4) Does being a flagship campus matter?
Attending the flagship campus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is bound to include some perks, right? Well, not so fast. Over the past five years, only six flagship public universities have seen a drop in in-state tuition and fees, one of them being University of Washington with a 17% decrease. The rest have increased by varying amounts; Louisiana State University and Texas A&M went up 52%, while UMass Amherst has increased by approximately 10%.
5) Family income increases have been a huge factor in affordability
Over the past three decades, there has been a clear pattern showing the inequality of income increases. If your family has a higher income, it has grown faster since 1986. Middle-class families, or the middles 20% in the report, have seen their average income increase from 3.6 times as high to 4.0 times as high times higher than the lowest 20%.
In comparison to the families with the higher incomes, the bottom 20% haven’t matched the pre-recession income levels they had in 2006.
The data showing increases and decreases nationally is important, but be sure to check out your own state (and school’s) pricing information because it really can vary from state to state.