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College Cost Watch Lists Published

July 18, 2011

A series of college cost and affordability lists were released on July 1 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).The lists were posted to a new portion of the NCES College Navigator Web site, dubbed the College Affordability and Transparency Center. The lists are intended to spotlight institutions with the highest and lowest tuition and net prices. A second portion of the website provides data on institutions with the greatest percentage increases in tuition and net prices.

The six lists are based on data collected in 2009-10 through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and are stratified by type and control into nine categories of institutions. These are:

  1. The 5 percent of institutions that have 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.

Institutions appearing on lists number three and number four, showing those with the largest increase over the previous three years, will be required to submit a report to ED. Details on the content of those reports are limited to the statutory language from the HEOA, which is as follows:

  • 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 for a subsequent year, a description of progress made on reducing costs. 
  • If the institution is not in 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.

ED has not provided any additional guidance or set a schedule for their submission. According to NACUBO's review of the lists, 531 institutions (294 of those are public or nonprofit) will be required to submit such a report. There is surprisingly little overlap between the tuition and fees lists and the net price lists. Note that 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.

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 cost over the last three years.

 

Control

5% with Highest Percent Increase Over 3 Years

On Both Lists

Total

Tuition &Fees

Net Cost

Four-year

 Public

26

26

6

58

 Nonprofit

54

51

10

115

 For-profit

23

19

2

44

Two-year

 Public

25

53

1

79

 Nonprofit

6

5

2

13

 For-profit

34

37

6

77

Less than two-year

 Public

10

9

1

20

 Nonprofit

5

4

0

9

 For-profit

58

45

13

116

 

The HEOA requires that all of the lists be updated annually with data collected by IPEDS. Information on the methodology for creating the lists is included on the College Affordability and Transparency Center website.

State Spending

For public institutions, increases in tuition and fees are often inversely related to state appropriations. NCES also provided tables, searchable by state, that highlight changes to state support for higher education. These were mandated by the HEOA as well.

Contact

Bryan Dickson
Policy Analyst
202.861.2505
E-mail