Tuition fees have increased at historically low rates this year
For decades, college costs – and total student debt – have risen steadily. Researchers at Georgetown University recently analyzed data from the U.S. Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Center for Education Statistics and found that from 1980 to 2019, college costs increased 169%. But recently this trend has slowed down.
When the coronavirus pandemic began and forced colleges to send students home, some experts predicted the pandemic would force college prices to peak. In 2020, researchers found reason to be optimistic, but maintained it was too early to determine the long-term impacts of the pandemic on higher education.
According to the College Board 2021 Trends in college prices and student aid report, during the 2021-2022 academic year, average tuition fees increased at historically low rates – and after adjusting for inflation, even decreased.
The recently released report found that from 2020 to 2021, tuition and published fees increased 1.3% for two-year public students in the district, 1.6% for four-year public students in the district. state, 1.5% for four-year public students. state students, and 2.1% for private four-year nonprofit students, on average.
âMany schools continue to recognize that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and that students and families are still struggling. And so many schools are choosing to keep their tuition at the same level,â said Jennifer Ma , Senior Policy Research Scientist at the College Board and author. of the report. “In fact, about one-third of public four-year schools have not increased tuition fees this year, and more than half of community colleges have not increased tuition fees, and about 20% of private institutions have not raised tuition fees this year. four-year-old nonprofits have frozen their tuition fees. ”
During the pandemic, many schools, including public universities in Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan and private colleges such as Lehigh, Bucknell and duke university – made public commitments freeze tuition fees.
Plus, taking inflation into account, many colleges actually cost decreased said Ma.
âWe compared the CPI for the first eight months (January to August) with the first eight months of 2020, and we calculated a 3.9% increase in the CPI. So after adjusting for inflation, all these price increases are in fact negative, âshe explains. “This means that the actual tuition fees, after adjusting for inflation, have declined in the 2021-2022 academic year.”
And while many feared that funding for higher education would be cut during the pandemic-induced recession, as it did during the Great Recession, Ma says the emergency funding for the CARES Act and the Fund of Emergency Aid for Higher Education (HEERF) has helped slow rising college costs and provide more grants and scholarship aid to students. The CARES law created the HEERF when it was adopted March 27, 2020 and HEERF has been extended twice since.
âFor next year, we expect to see perhaps an even larger increase in average financial aid,â she said. âThe CARES law was passed at the end of March, so schools really didn’t have a lot of time to distribute the money. And since the first HEERF funding, which was $ 14 billion, there have been two more HEERF funding rounds. three rounds combined, that adds up to nearly $ 75 billion. We therefore expect to see a bit more of an increase in terms of grants that students receive during the current academic year. “
According to the report, during the 2020-2021 academic year, full-time undergraduates received an average of $ 14,800 in financial aid, including $ 10,050 in scholarships (which in most cases n do not need to be repaid), $ 3,780 in federal loans, $ 880 in education. tax credits and $ 90 in federal work-study funds.
And while there are years of reason to be skeptical, Ma is cautiously optimistic about recent trends in college prices and student aid.
âFor students, this is really good news,â Ma says. âWe will continue to monitor net price data, as we always have. But it is certainly good news for students. “