What Students Actually Pay

Although average published tuition and fees increased by about 24% at public four-year colleges and universities from 2005-06 to 2010-11, by 17% at private nonprofit four-year institutions, and by 11% at public two-year colleges, average net price for full-time students, after considering grant aid and federal tax benefits, declined in each sector over this five-year period, after adjusting for inflation.

• As documented in Trends in Student Aid 2010, total grant aid per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student increased by about $1,100 (22%) in 2009-10, largely because of increases in federal Pell Grants and Veterans’ Benefits.

• When room and board costs are also considered, total net cost of attendance is about $600 higher in inflation-adjusted dollars at public four-year colleges than it was in 2005-06, but it has not increased at private nonprofit four-year or public two-year institutions.

• In 2010-11, full-time students receive an estimated average of about $6,100 in grant aid from all sources and federal tax benefits at public four-year institutions, $16,000 at private nonprofit institutions, and $3,400 at public two-year colleges.

• As a result of the grant aid they receive, the additional tuition lower-income students pay to attend a high-price private nonprofit college is significantly smaller than the price increment for students from higher-income families. Because of the role of grant aid, net tuition and fee prices are lower for many students attending private nonprofit institutions with higher published prices than for students attending for-profit institutions.

• On average, grant aid covered the entire tuition and fees for low-income dependent students enrolled in both public two-year and in-state public four-year institutions in 2007-08, with about $1,250 for two-year and $1,720 for four-year students left over to put toward other college-related expenses.

1 The source of this page is from the  Trends in College Pricing - 2010 study, published by CollegeBoard Advocacy & Policy Center.
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