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College Board Publications Report Average Net Price Increase at Public and Private Four-year Institutions

November 2, 2012

The 2012 "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid" reports provide comprehensive analysis on trends of several measures of the cost of college and financial aid. One prominent headline from the "College Pricing" report is public four-year institutions increased tuition and fees by 4.8 percent for in-state tuition, while private nonprofit four-year colleges increased their tuition by 4.2 percent in 2012-13, as compared to the prior year. The average annual percentage increases in inflation-adjusted published prices show that by decade, the 2002-2012 decade rose most sharply than over either of the two prior decades.

Regional differences in tuition and fees and room and board charges show the largest sticker prices are in the mid-Atlantic region and New England for nearly all sectors of higher education. Average in-state tuition and fees at public four- year institutions were highest in New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire, with the most expensive at $14,576. The least expensive states were New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, at $4,278. The College Board examined changes in tuition and fees over a five year period by state, and found that California and Arizona had the largest percentage change in their public two- and four-year institutions. During this period, California's two-year colleges have experienced a 104 percent increase in tuition and fees, while their four-year colleges and universities have seen an increase of 72 percent. Arizona's tuition and fees at public institutions have risen by 78 percent. Florida, Georgia, and Washington all saw at least a 60 percent increase in tuition and fees at public four-year institutions.

Average (inflation adjusted)net price of tuition and fees for students at public and private four-year institutions has increased from last year, as well as over the five- and ten-year time periods. Average net price for tuition and fees at public institutions for 2012-13 was $2,910 considering all forms of grant aid and federal tax credits and deductions. Net price for tuition, fees, and room and board was $12,110. Average 2012-13 net price at private nonprofit four-year institutions, by contrast, was $13,380 (considering all forms of grant aid tax deductions); when cost of room and board is added, the net price is $23,840. All of the 2012-13 net prices for tuition and fees and tuition, fees, and room and board at both private and public colleges are the highest net price recorded in 20 years of data.

"Trends in College Pricing" also highlights trends in student budgets, as well as distribution of students by tuition and fees, state appropriations, sources of gross tuition revenue, and price at flagship universities.

The "Trends in Student Aid" report shows that total grant aid in 2011-12 from all sources totaled $112.3 billion, nearly level with 2010-11's $112.5 billion. State grants make up 9 percent of the pie, up one percentage point from last year, while grants from private/employers held steady at 10 percent. Institutional grants increased one percentage point from last year, to 37 percent of the total grant aid. Federal grants made up a smaller share of total grants this year, dropping from 46 percent to 44 percent.

The report also found that 9.1 percent of students who entered repayment in 2009-10 defaulted on their student loans as of September 2011, marking the highest cohort default rate since 1996. Thirty-five percent of all undergraduates borrowed federal Stafford loans, compared to 23 percent just ten years earlier.

Higher education tax credits and deductions from the American Opportunity Tax Credit implemented in 2009 provided significant savings to students and parents, from $7 billion in total tax credits and deductions in 2008 to more than double that in 2010, at $18.8 billion. The distribution of this savings by adjusted gross income (AGI) shows that families with less than $25,000 AGI represent the largest share of those receiving education tax credits, at 24 percent, with an average tax savings of $1,497 per recipient. Families on the other end of the spectrum with $100,000-$180,000 AGI make up 23 percent of those receiving a tax credit, and with about $2,447 in savings per recipient.

"College Pricing" also reports on trends in institutional grant aid at public and private institutions, total aid by FTE student and aid type, graduate student loans and grants, Pell grants, and student debt.

The 2012 "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid" reports can be downloaded for free from the College Board website.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis