Tuition Increases Slow, While Student Loan Borrowing Declines, College Board Reports
Listed tuition and fee prices for full-time, full-year undergraduate study at public colleges and universities increased by less than 3 percent between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the lowest rate of increase in tuition and fees charges at public schools in nearly 40 years, according to the College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2014 report. A companion study, Trends in Student Aid 2014, found that annual federal student loan borrowing by undergraduates fell by 9 percent between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
Trends in College Pricing 2014 examines annual and historic changes in the published tuition and fees and other costs for undergraduates attending public and private colleges and universities in the United States. The new report shows that for in-state undergraduates attending four-year public colleges and universities, the average tuition and fee price increased from $8,885 in 2013-14 to $9,139 in 2014-15. This is only the second time since 1974-75 that average in-state tuition and fees have grown by less than 3 percent in current (not adjusted for inflation) dollars. The average tuition price at four-year private non-profit schools rose 3.7 percent, from $30,131 to $31,231.
The report also shows that increases in the total price of attendance at public colleges and universities have slowed over the past several years, particularly when price increases are adjusted for inflation. Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the published total price of attending a four-year public school (in-state tuition, fees and room and board) grew 1 percent in inflation-adjusted value, from $18,749 to $18,943. In contrast, the total price of attendance at these schools rose 8.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The slower rate of increases in tuition and other college prices occurred at the same time students are borrowing less to pay their postsecondary expenses. Trends in Student Aid shows that the total amount borrowed by undergraduates from federal student loan programs dropped 9 percent in current dollars between 2012-13 and 2013-14 (data for 2014-15 are not yet available) from $69.4 billion to $62.9 billion. Institutionally funded grants, on the other hand, rose 5 percent, from $36.2 billion to $37.9 billion.
In total, undergraduates received approximately $184.5 billion in assistance to help pay or defray their higher education expenses in 2013-14. Due largely to the drop in student loans, total aid received declined by 1 percent between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The decline in loans continues a trend that has occurred over the past several years. From 2009-10 to 2013-14, grants from federal, state, institutional, and other sources as a share of total financial aid grew from 45 percent in 2007-08 to 54 percent in 2013-14. At the same time, the share of aid from all loan programs declined from 50 percent to 37 percent.
The shift in financial aid from loans to grants has occurred in large measure due to dramatic increases in institutionally funded grants. Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, grants awarded directly by colleges and universities to undergraduates jumped 29 percent, from $29.3 billion to $37.9 billion. Federally funded grants, in contrast, rose only 9 percent, from $43.4 billion to $47.1 billion.