Tuition hikes will ease College costs up about 9%

Texas tops tuition hikes

Rebecca F. Johnson
USA Today
September 8, 2004

The price tag for college tuition is continuing to climb this year, but experts are predicting less sticker shock than in the past two years.

A USA TODAY 50-state survey of 67 public flagship universities shows that although some schools, including Texas, North Dakota, Illinois, California and Kansas, will see double-digit increases, others are increasing tuition and fees by relatively small percentages.

The average is 9%, which translates to 1. Last year, the average percentage increase was 14%.

"It's definitely not pop-the-champagne-corks-and-dance-in-the-street time," says Travis Reindl of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. "But it's definitely better than the two years before that."

The most expensive in-state tuition this year of the 67 schools was Penn State at ,856, a jump of 12% since last year but 30% since 2002-03. Rutgers was next: Tuition increased 8% this year -- 40% since 2002-03. The University of Vermont, at ,226, had a 6% increase this year, 14% since 2002-03. In a few states, tuitions have increased 50% or more since 2002-03.

Many colleges and universities resorted to double-digit increases in the past few years to make up for state budget cuts; others are trying to keep pace with growing student enrollments and rising costs for health insurance, building renovations and construction.

Some schools are offsetting tuition increases by providing more financial aid, says Ken Redd of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

But the aid isn't necessarily getting to those who need it most, says Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

And the amount of aid varies widely. Nearly 90% or more of students at the University of New Mexico, Georgia State University, the University of Wyoming, Idaho State University and the University of Kentucky receive some type of aid, those colleges say.

In Texas, which has the highest-percentage increases of the 67 schools this year -- about 20% for in-state students -- both the University of Texas-Austin and Texas A&M-College Station are earmarking about a third of the increase for financial aid.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature delegated authority to set tuition rates to universities. "We tried to look at ways we could save money before asking the students to pay more," says Bill Perry, Texas A&M vice provost.

But the decision irked some students. "Middle-class students who aren't eligible for aid but can't pay for tuition on their own are getting squeezed out," says Mark McCaig, a student at Texas A&M.

More information on UT's tuition hikes