College Board: Tuition outpaces inflation; student borrowing declines

By Amy R. Connolly   |   Nov. 4, 2015 at 2:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- College tuition and fees have risen slightly in the past year while student borrowing has been on the decline, the College Board, the nonprofit behind the SAT, said.

Published tuition and fees crept up 3 percent from last year even though the economy has been at an even keel in the past year. At the same time, student borrowing was down for the fourth year in row.

Overall, the College Board's annual 2015 "Trends in Student Aid" and "Trends in College Pricing" reports showed a leveling out in the 2015-16 school year since the recession, when college costs, student borrowing and student loan default rates increased dramatically. Still, it is cause for increased attention, the College Board said.

"These data provoke a necessary conversation about college financing," said Jack Buckley, senior vice president of research at the College Board. "As the price of postsecondary education continues to rise, we need innovative thinking around federal, state and institutional aid that will allow all students and families to feel confident that they will be able to pay for college."

The reports found student borrowing has declined slightly in the past four years, defaults have leveled and tuition prices aren't rising as sharply as in the past. That goes against data from the Institute for College Access and Success' report in October, which found overall student debt was up 2 percent from the previous year and 56 percent from a decade earlier.

The College Board's reports released Wednesday showed average published tuition and fees at public four-year schools in the 2015-16 school year are 40 percent higher than they were a decade ago. For public two-year schools, tuition is 29 percent higher and in private nonprofit four-year schools, costs are 26 percent higher.

Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, said tuition is rising faster than inflation because states have been cutting taxpayer support to public institutions.

"Economic theory suggests prices cannot continue rising faster than incomes. At some point, tuition will outstrip individuals' ability to pay for it," he said, adding rising prices are "the single biggest worry" of college presidents."

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