Despite Recession, Pennsylvania College Costs Increase

On Tuesday, the College Board released their annual report on tuition and financial aid. Despite a national recession, college tuition is still rising at an alarming pace. On average, prices at public four-year universities are increasing at “4.9% per year beyond general inflation from 1999-2000 to 2009-10, more rapidly than in either of the previous two decades.”

Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, expressed frustration, but also gets to the heart of the matter, “Take a walk in a shopping mall, or look at the ads in your newspaper. Is anyone else raising prices six-and-a-half percent this year?”

So why are colleges? Because students, unlike most consumers, are sheltered from the true cost of higher education through an abundance of financial aid. Until that changes, institutions will continue to increase their fees and the government will continue to offset the increases with more tax-payer funded financial aid.

But it’s not all bad news. Pennsylvania’s public four-year campuses dropped from the 3rd to the 4th most expensive in the nation. PA’s average public university fees grew by 4.2 percent, to $10,786, not as steep as last year’s 5.5 percent hike.  Pennsylvania’s ranking among private (11th) and community colleges (14th) remain unchanged.