by Shae Spicer
The costs of tuition and fees to attend college have been rapidly increasing for years, even decades, but this increase may be slowing according to data from recent years. This news comes as a relief to students and families who are struggling to find ways to make the investment in paying for a college education. However, even though the increase in sticker price to attend college is slowing, there is a rise in what students are actually paying when you subtract the financial aid they receive.
Although even in the most recent years tuition and fees are still going up from year to year, the rise is much smaller than in the growth in past years. Both public and private four-year institutions have seen the effects of the slow in the rise of the sticker price to attend in the past year because they have both seen the smallest one-year percentage increase of the tuition and fees in decades. However, the net prices of what students and families actually pay to attend college minus all of the forms of financial aid they receive have been increasing more and more in recent years because the growth in financial aid has not been keeping up with the increase in tuition prices.
The average net price that students and families paid was actually much lower at the height of the recession than it is now when some families are still trying to recover from the recession because there is no longer a rapid increase, but a decline in the amount of grant aid supplied by states and the federal government while tuition and fees prices are still going up each year. Some families are able to pay for a postsecondary education with no problem, but many students and families nowadays rely on subsides to pay for a college education. Although financial aid is obviously still present, it is no longer increasing by any substantial amount like it was in previous years during the recession.
Pushing for more financial aid from the states and federal government may not be the answer though, because it will only temporarily bail families out since the net prices of colleges are still likely to increase from year to year. The real problem that needs to be addressed is for college leaders and policymakers to evaluate what it really costs to supply a college education, and how to overall sticker price, therefore lowering the net price for students and families.