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Business and Policy Areas
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ED Publishes 2013 College Cost Watch Lists

July 11, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education recently published its college cost and affordability lists on the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator website. The lists, a requirement of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), are intended to highlight institutions with the highest and lowest tuition and net prices. Additionally, the lists spotlight institutions having the greatest percentage increases in tuition and net prices.

Nonprofit four-year institutions saw an average tuition increase of 10.2 percent and an 8.5 percent increase in net price. The average tuition increase at four-year public institutions was 15.6 percent, though the change in net price was only 5.1 percent. Interestingly, nearly three fourths of the four-year public institutions on the list identifying the highest percentage increase in tuition were located in just three states/territories: California, Georgia, and Puerto Rico. The vast majority of the listed institutions from Puerto Rico, however, reported tuition and fees below $3,000 for 2011-12

Six Lists

Using data collected in 2011-12 through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the Department of Education generated the following six lists:

  • The 5 percent of institutions having the highest tuition and fees for the most recent academic year.
  • The 5 percent of institutions charging the highest net price for the most recent academic year.
  • 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.
  • The 5 percent of institutions showing the largest increase in net price, as measured by percentage change, over the three most recent academic years.
  • The 10 percent of institutions with the lowest tuition and fees for the most recent academic year.
  • The 10 percent of institutions having the lowest net price for the most recent academic year.

An exception in the law provides that if the dollar amount of the increase over three years is $600 or less, the institution is not included on the list. A number of public institutions with low tuition and low net prices, however, saw increases just over the $600 threshold. This makes the calculated percentage increases high enough to include the institutions in the top 5 percent, even though the increases in actual dollars are generally low. For example, a $630 increase in tuition from a base of $864 results in an institution reporting a 73 percent increase, though many would argue that $1,494 in tuition and fees still represents a great value.

The overwhelming majority of two-year public institutions on the lists charge less than $4,000 for tuition and fees, while more than half of the four-year public institutions charge less than $5,000. Just fewer than 50 percent of the four-year nonprofit institutions on the lists charged under $10,000.

Two-year public institutions reported an average tuition increase of 18.2 percent, but the increase in net price was 3.3 percent-the lowest of all sectors reported. Conversely, the average increase in tuition at for-profit two-year institutions was 9.7 percent, with a 15 percent increase in net price.

Institutions Listed Must Submit Report to ED

HEOA requires institutions that appear on the lists related to tuition increases to submit a report to ED that includes:

  • A description of the major areas in the institution's budget with the greatest cost increases and an explanation of the increases.
  • A description of the steps the institution will take to reduce costs in those areas.
  • For institutions that are included on the same list in a subsequent year, a description of progress made on reducing cost.
  • If the institution is not in the exclusive control of determining cost increases, the extent of its participation, identification of the state body responsible for determining the cost increase, and any other relevant information.

The table below shows the distribution by type and control on the two lists of institutions with the highest percent increase in tuition and fees and in net price over the last three years.

 

Control5% with Highest Percent Increase Over 3 YearsOn Both ListsTotal
Tuition and FeesNet Cost
Four-year Public

32

31

2

65

Nonprofit

56

55

8

119

For-profit

32

26

1

59

Two-year Public

26

45

7

78

Nonprofit

7

6

1

14

For-profit

44

38

7

89

Less than two-year Public

9

9

1

19

Nonprofit

3

3

1

7

For-profit

64

51

14

129

NACUBO calculates that 579 institutions (302 of which are public or nonprofit) will need to submit reports to ED. 

Contact

Bryan Dickson
Policy Analyst
202.861.2505
E-mail