Fighting Back Against Rising College Costs

College costs continue to rise (surprise, surprise), according to the latest statistics released by the College Board.

The news is depressing, but not as awful as you might assume. As I’ve discussed in previous college blog posts, roughly two-thirds of college students receive scholarships or other price breaks so the sticker prices are meaningless.

2010-2011 College Tuition Prices

Type of school                                                Price      % Increase

  • Private colleges                                       $27,293     4.5%
  • State universities                                   $7,605        7.9%
  • State universities, non-residents       $19,595      6.0%
  • Community college                                $2,713       6.0%

Here is what I said about these latest price hikes on my other college blog at CBSMoneyWatch:

On the surface, these college cost increases seem alarming because during the past year inflation barely registered a pulse. When you adjust for scholarships and financial aid, however, the cost of college has increased more slowly than the Consumer Price Index over the past five years.

The most alarming college tuition increases right now are being felt at state universities where most students attend. State governments, such as out here in California, have been cutting back their support of their public universities and unfortunately I don’t see that changing. The fact that the federal stimulus money is just about gone for public universities is only going to aggravate the fiscal problems.

State and private college and universities clearly need to find a way to reign in their costs, but I don’t see any signs of that happening.

Bottom Line:

While these latest college prices are depressing, you need to keep in mind that the only college costs that matters are the ones that your family pays. When evaluating colleges focus on what individual schools will offer your teenager. I hate to be a nag about this, but often you will find better deals if you and your child are willing to at least look at some schools that aren’t in your state.

While parents are helpless to stop this price increase onslaught, teens can fight back by being the best students they possibly can be. That means in and out of the classroom. Good students are the ones who are snagging the best price breaks. Grade point averages and the strength of a teen’s academic record are typically what colleges care about the most.

College Tuition Tool

If you want to check out what college costs have been doing at individual colleges, try using this cool college cost tool from The Chronicle of Higher Education that shows the yearly tuition and fees for thousands of schools since 1999.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of  The College Solution and her popular workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College.

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  1. Pingback: The money you should be fighting for – The Orion

  2. Shocking really… this trend will definitely deprive the majority to bring their children to school. With economic crisis we are facing right now families are so hard up in their budgets how much more is school fees will again increase. What is happening? This situation is very alarming.

  3. Fighting back against the accelerating costs of higher education needs to include an analysis of the quality of decision making by Chancellors and Deans. As the following illustrate some Deans are adding to costs that students and parents have to absorb. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.
    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.
    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, Academic Senate, Cal. Alumni, financial donators, benefactors and await the transformation.
    The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.

  4. I hate the rise in college cost and yes a lot of students recieve financial aid, but what the stats fail to include are the aid that falls through, we are awarded it and then it is taken away. It happened to me, I worked my ass off through high school got into all the colleges I applied to, I got minimal scholarships, sufficient help in grants from the school, and student loans. But that wasn’t enough my parents had to take out a loan that later crashed in burned halfway through my school year, I am scrambling to get the money, we make below poverty level, the government been no help, I am smart and academically accomplished but guess what I am average not outstanding. When can people who have no means to pay for education afford it? I am looking at having to completely give up my goals of higher education, which means potential jobs. Your stats are great but they are inaccurate, as are most stats, anyone who has ever taken a stats course can tell you that all stats are made to look good and efficient in what they are doing but do not cover all the possiblities and in many cases are wrong. What is true is that the government needs to get its act together they complain that American is dumbing down, well the fault comes when they allow colleges to sky rocket prices and have insufficient and very uneducated teachers. Why don’t we have free education yet? When will American catch up with Europe, they are doing something right over there!

  5. College costs have been increasing at a faster rate than inflation for many years. All the costs add up, students are being asked to pay for a lot. But why does it cost so much? The Federal government wanted to save money by eliminating the middleman through dumping the FFELP program. Now all federal loans are originated through Direct Loans. Some schools are having a hard time with transition, others are handling it well, check out my article on it: