Here’s some great news for college students: tuition increases at public universities have slowed for the second year in a row, increasing at the lowest rate since the mid-1970s. Earlier this year we reported that tuition hikes were slowing down at private institutions; public schools are evidently following suit.This is somewhat encouraging news, but it comes with one big downside: these schools are also dramatically cutting back financial aid packages. The WSJ reports:
After adjusting for aid, students attending public four-year institutions this academic year are paying an average of $12,620, up $220 from last year, for tuition, room and board. Private-school costs rose $700, to $23,290. […]But shrinking state aid for public colleges and universities has meant the cost of public schools has jumped $1,770 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The amount of government aid received last year fell to $6,646 for every full-time student at those institutions. Five years ago, each student received $9,111 in today’s dollars.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: this trend will be good for students in the long run. While it’s true that cutbacks in financial aid may make attending college more difficult for some families in the short term, it will also eventually encourage colleges to compete on price. We would prefer a world in which more students are able to meet a lower sticker price with less aid over the current system, in which loans and aid programs help students and their families to meet absurdly high published prices.From the looks of things, we’re taking some small steps in that direction.[College quad image courtesy of Shutterstock]