Tuition, Student Loans Increase Again


Tuition at the nation's public colleges and universities increased by more than 10 percent on average this year less than last year -- while student loans for a second year outpaced grants, according to a national survey released Oct. 19.

The tuition hike was smaller than last year's 14 percent increase, reflecting a 2.5 percent uptick in state aid for higher education this year, according to the College Board, a non-profit testing and research organization that administers the SAT college acceptance exam and Advanced Placement program for high school students.

State appropriations for higher education were cut 4.5 percent last year, according to the report, which also details state-by-state and regional trends in tuition.

The increases bring the average annual tuition at a four-year public college to $5,132 -- $1,000 higher than two years ago. Annual tuition at two-year community colleges rose to $2,076 this year, according the report.

With loans, grants and tax credits, the average out-of-pocket tuition expense for students at four-year colleges is $1,300 this year. That is less than students were paying a decade ago, after adjusting for inflation, according to the College Board's figures.

However, the report also shows that students and families are borrowing significantly more to pay for college. Federal education loans rose 13 percent during the 2002 and 2003 school years, while private lending increased 43 percent.

Grant aid, which increased just 6 percent last year, made up 38 percent of all student aid, while loans accounted for 56 percent, the report states.


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