Justin Pope of MSNBC is reporting that the average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose an additional $631 this fall, or 8.3 percent, compared with a year ago. Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. If you include room and board, the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year, according to the twin annual reports on college costs and student aid published Wednesday by the College Board.
Helping drive the national numbers were huge tuition increases at public universities in California, which enrolls 10 percent of public four-year college students and whose 21 percent tuition increase this year was the largest of any state.
Despite the rise in tuition, room and board, federal assistance has been decreasing. Even though there was an increase in federal grants and tax credits for students on top of stimulus dollars that helped prevent greater state cuts and helped families pay less, the move did not hold down the cost of attending colleges and universities. Experts interviewed in the article stated that colleges are now using tuition to provide revenue lost from other sources.
If students can't get help on the front end, then perhaps they will get help on the back end. President Obama announced plans today to help ease the burder of student-loan debt. The president is putting this plan in place by executive order.
The plan will allow students to cap their federal student-loan payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income starting in January, two years before the cap was slated to take effect under law. It will also forgive all remaining debt on federal loans after 20 years instead of the 25-year trigger allowed under the current law.
In addition, the plan will allow borrowers who have more than one federal student loan to consolidate their debt, allowing them to make a single payment to a single lender for multiple loans. In some cases, students would also have their interest rates reduced by up to half a percentage point.
While this is a great initiative, it does not solve the problem of rising tuition costs that are out of sync with the rate of inflation. Schools are going to have to become smarter and more creative about generating revenue. That creativity should not include unnecessarily tacking on lost revenue to tuition. It is clear that students will have to lead the fight against rising tuition costs, because it appears that some college administrators and elected officials are looking the other way.
Read more at MSNBC.
In other news: Ask Obama and Ye Shall Receive?