Tuition rises, but financial aid cushion shrinks, new report finds
Two new reports out today from the College Board highlight some troubling financial trends for college students -- tuition continues to rise, but without the increase in federal aid that lessened the blow over several years.
"While the 4.8% ($399) 2012-13 increase in published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities across the nation was lower than that of recent years, the rapid growth in federal aid — which for a few years actually reduced the average net prices students paid — has ended.
"With two-thirds of full-time undergraduate students receiving grant aid, the net prices most students pay are lower than the published prices. In 2012-13, full-time undergraduates at public four-year institutions receive an estimated average of $5,750 in grant aid from all sources and federal tax benefits to help them pay the average $8,655 published tuition and fees. The students pay an average net tuition and fee price of just over $2,900. After declining for two years in inflation-adjusted dollars, the net price has risen each year since 2009-10."
Where does Florida fit in the mix? The state's in-state tuition and fees at the University of Florida remain among the lowest of the country's public flagship universities ($6,143), while the five-year cost increase of 65.7 percent logged in among the highest. The results were similar for out-of-state tuition and fees. See the College Board's comparison table here.
Does Florida need to keep its costs low to allow students to afford it? Must it keep hiking tuition and fees to keep up with costs and avoid a loss of expertise? Higher education funding and performance issues promise to get a lot of attention in the coming legislative session. What do lawmakers need to do to improve the system, and how much does money play a role?