Over the past year, private, nonprofit four-year colleges reported a 4.5 percent increase in their tuition rates, raising the average private college tuition—including room and board—to $36,993 per year, according to the “Trends in College Pricing” report recently released by the College Board.
Public four-year universities charged 8 percent more in in-state tuition and fees, bringing the average in-state tuition with room and board to $16,140.
At the same time, universities across the nation have awarded increased financial aid packages to students, enabling families to cope with the unprecedented increase in college expenses, according to the College Board’s “Trends in Student Aid” report.
While the last five years have seen a dramatic increase in tuition rates at both state and private nonprofit colleges, increased funding from government financial aid programs—including Pell grants—and from educational institutions have made a college education more accessible for students. Moreover, the average tuition—after taking inflation, grants, and federal tax benefits into account—has actually decreased over the last five years, the College Board reports.
“In 2009-2010, students got $28 billion in Pell grants, and that’s $10 billion more than the year before. When you look at how much students are actually paying, on average, it is lower, after adjusting for inflation, than five years earlier,” Sandy Baum, the lead author of the reports, told the New York Times.
Harvard University has exemplified similar trends to those shown in the reports. The University increased its tuition and fees by 3.8 percent this year, bringing the total cost to $50,724 per year. With the intention of keeping a Harvard education affordable, the University increased need-based awards by 9 percent this school year, bringing the total annual financial aid awarded by the college to $158 million.
“Harvard remains committed to a fully need-blind admissions policy that will enable us to continue attracting the most talented students, regardless of their economic circumstances,” said Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith.
More than 60 percent of undergraduates at Harvard receive financial aid packages, with an average award of approximately $40,000.