At a time when price inflation for most things in the U.S. is near zero per cent, the cost of a college education has continued on it’s own strong track upward.
The College Board most recent report shows that the average price of college, including tuition, room and board and other fees, went up 10% during the last five years at public colleges and universities. At the same time, the cost of attending a private college rose 12%.
State & Other Public Schools Hammered
Public schools have been forced to keep hiking tuition year after year since the great economic meltdown of 2008. At that time, state legislatures across the country slashed their education funding. In most states, that government aid to colleges has never recovered. Total state aid to public universities is still about 9% lower than it was all the way back in 2007. That’s made it necessary for students to cover a higher percentage of school costs through increased tuition.
The flip side of the coin is that many students today do not pay the published or “sticker” price to attend college. Many receive grants or scholarships. The most desirable students – those with good grade averages in high school – are increasingly putting pressure on private colleges to cut them special deals. And the private colleges, who are making far less money from endowments than they once did because of low interest rates, are caving in more and more. Anecdotal evidence shows that some private schools are giving good students as much as 50% off standard tuition rates. (Read more on best-priced online associate and bachelor degree programs in the U.S..)
Surprisingly, for-profit colleges do not look tremendously expensive in the College Board survey. While average total cost for private college is running at about $45,000 per year and in-state tuition for public schools is an average of $20,090 per year, for-profit schools are charging an average of about $16,000. Of course, most of them are online, so there are no room and board fees.
The survey indicates that the net fees most students are paying after scholarships and special deals is about 30% lower than published prices at public colleges and community colleges, but closer to 40% off published rates at private schools. The motto: make sure you press your college for the best deal they can offer and look for all grants and scholarships available. You may be able to get your college degree for a good deal less money than you think.