Tuition Costs Increase Despite Sour Economy


The College Board’s latest study on college tuition shows that the price for college has risen by 6.5% — right in the teeth of the recession. But all is not lost. For students and families, there are some more pleasant figures in the study, too.

BankingMyWay will open this — the week before Thanksgiving break for collegians — with a look at college prices going into 2010.

The Big Kahuna of college cost barometers is the College Board’s annual tuition report. This year, the study says that the average price for four-year public colleges climbed $29 on a year-to-year basis to $7,020. Tuitions at private four-year colleges rose 4.4% for 2008-2009 bringing the average yearly cost to $26,273, the College Board says.

The news isn’t all sour and dour. According to the study, the average college tuition bill is skewed by exorbitantly higher prices for select private and public colleges. That paints a different picture for families struggling to pay for college costs — a brighter picture, actually.

This from the College Board report:

  • About 19% of students enrolled in private four-year colleges attend institutions that charge tuition and fees below $18,000.
  • Thirty-two percent of full-time students enrolled in public four-year colleges and universities attend institutions that charge tuition and fees between $3,000 and $6,000.
  • While private four-year institutions have a much wider range of tuition and fee charges, only about 20% of all students attend colleges with tuition and fees totaling $36,000 or higher per year.

The College Board study is titled "Trends in College Pricing 2009 and Trends in Student Aid 2009." It’s well worth checking out. See a summary at the College Board Web site.

Another eye-opener from the college financial scene comes from Northern New York — Ithaca College, specifically — where the school is paying students who have been accepted to stay away for one year. The New York Times (Stock Quote: NYT) reports that Ithaca paid 31 accepted students $10,000 each to defer. The payouts came after Ithaca accepted too many new students, causing a housing crunch that it couldn’t fix.

Another program has Ithaca paying older students $2,000 to move off campus, thus freeing up dorm space.

Maybe Ithaca had done too good a job of resurrecting its admissions program. In 2008, the school saw admissions rates (or “yields” as they’re called in the recruiting world) were off by 11%. But with an aggressive marketing push, and slightly lower admissions standards, Ithaca was able to draw 20% more enrollees than it had expected. Thus, the $10,000 payouts to students to take the year off.

As the New Year beckons, and college acceptance season heats up, BankingMyWay will keep a closer eye on college cost issues. For now, prices are up, although most schools are doing what they can to keep students happy — and keep their sanity in tough economic times.

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