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Business and Policy Areas
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2012 College Cost Watch Lists Published

June 14, 2012

On June 5, the National Center for Education Statistics released a series of college cost and affordability lists, as mandated by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). The lists, now in their second year of publication, are publicly available in the College Affordability and Transparency Center, a part of the College Navigator website.

Using data collected by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) for 2010-11 , the watch lists highlight institutions with the highest and lowest tuition and net prices. A second section of the website lists institutions with the greatest percentage increase in tuition and net price over the last three years (2008-09 to 2010-11).

Broken down by the nine IPEDS education sectors, the six lists provide:

  1. The 5 percent of institutions with the highest tuition and fees for the most recent academic year.
  2. The 5 percent of institutions that charged the highest net price for the most recent academic year.
  3. The 5 percent of institutions with the largest increase in tuition and fees, as measured by percentage change, over the three most recent academic years.
  4. The 5 percent of institutions that show the largest increase in net price, as measured by percentage change, over the three most recent academic years.
  5. The 10 percent of institutions that have the lowest tuition and fees for the most recent academic year.
  6. The 10 percent of institutions that have the lowest net price for the most recent academic year.

Under the HEOA, institutions appearing in list numbers three and four (highest percentage change over three years) must provide additional information to the Department of Education. ED will provide those institutions with details on what information to report.

The table below shows the distribution by type and control on this year's lists of institutions with the highest percent increase in tuition and fees and in net cost over the last three years.

 

 

Control

5% with Highest Percent Increase Over 3 Years

 

On Both Lists

 

Total

Tuition and Fees

Net Cost

Four-year

Public 31 33 0 64
Nonprofit 49 51 13 113
For-profit 24 29 0 53

Two-year

Public 51 44 0 95
Nonprofit 7 8 0 15
For-profit 38 43 6 87

Less than
two-year

Public 8 10 1 19
Nonprofit 3 4 1 8
For-profit 52 65 10 127

Unsurprisingly, public colleges and universities showed the highest rate of increase in tuition and fees. While the national average percent change over three years for public four-year institutions was 15 percent, the rate for institutions in the top 5 percent ranged from 40 to 123 percent.

Tuition at some of those institutions, however, remains quite reasonable despite the high percentage increase: Half have tuition and fees of less than $6,000. The national average for public two-year colleges was 16.6 percent over three years, while the rate for the top 5 percent ranged from 39 to 274 percent increase.

Nonprofit colleges had much slower rates of increase over the last three years. The national average was 9.7 percent, with a range for the top 5 percent of 19 to 160 percent. Most nonprofit institutions on the list are quite small, many with fewer than 500 students.

As would be expected, given the three-year look-back period, some institutions appeared on the watch lists both last year and this year. There were relatively few repeaters among public four-year institutions, while almost half of the private colleges on this year's list had appeared on last year's list. s

The following table shows how many institutions on this year's lists of institutions with the highest percent increase in tuition and fees and in net cost also appeared on last year's lists.

 

Control 5% with Highest Percent Increase Over 3 Years On Both Lists Total
Tuition and Fees Net Cost
Four-year Public 8 7 0 15
Nonprofit 24 24 3 51
For-profit 6 12 0 18
Two-year Public 17 6 0 23
Nonprofit 4 4 0 8
For-profit 7 9 0 16
Less than two-year Public 3 0 0 3
Nonprofit 0 2 0 2
For-profit 15 19 4 38

Contact

Bryan Dickson
Policy Analyst
202.861.2505
E-mail

Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
202.861.2544
E-mail