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Cost of attending public university up 10 percent

The cost of attending public colleges and universities has increased at a double-digit rate for the second straight year, far ahead of state and federal financial aid, the College Board reported Tuesday.

The cost of higher education ranges from $321 a year at the public, two-year College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas, to $24,380 at private Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. The highest-priced state school is the University of Vermont, which charges students $10,006 for tuition, housing and a meal plan.

Average tuition and fees at four-year public universities and colleges rose 10 percent to $2,315 this fall, the College Board reported. Room and board brings the total to $5,841. At two-year schools, the average increased to $1,292.

"A lot of students have been driven from public colleges and universities and, increasingly, people are also having trouble affording community colleges at this point," said Stacey Leyton, president of the U.S. Student Association.

This fall's 10 percent hike follows an increase of 13 percent last year.

The increase in the cost of private institutions has been slowing, partly in response to competition for a dwindling number of traditional-age students.

At four-year private universities and colleges, tuition and fees now average $10,498, and at private two-year colleges, $5,621 _ increases of 7 percent and 6 percent respectively, at a time when the inflation rate was 3.1 percent. Room and board adds an average of $4,575 to the cost at private four-year schools.

Some examples

Average charges for college and university undergraduates this fall:

Two-year public: tuition and fees, $1,292; no room and board; other expenses, $502.

Two-year private: tuition and fees, $5,621; room and board, $3,750; other expenses, $1,895.

Four-year public: tuition and fees, $2,315; room and board, $3,526; other expenses, $2,230.

Four-year private: tuition and fees, $10,498; room and board, $4,575; other expenses, $1,954.

Tuition, room and board at some of the most expensive private colleges:

Sarah Lawrence College, $24,380; Brandeis University, $24,231; Barnard College, $24,170; Yale University, $23,700.