College tuition rates and fees shot up by 7.9% for the 2010-2011 school year, but much of that increase has been softened by a spike in federal aid, according to a new report from the College Board.
The average cost of tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year universities increased by $555 this year to $7,605, the report found. Meanwhile, tuition at private nonprofit universities increased by an average of $1,164 to $27,293, and at two-year colleges, tuition increased by an average of $155 to $2,713.
"An economic downturn, tuition increases and stagnant incomes have converged to squeeze both American families as they try to send children to college and older students who are seeking more education to improve their job opportunities," said College Board President Gaston Caperton, in a press release.
Fortunately, the tuition increase has been offset to some degree by record increases in federal aid.
Between 2009 and 2010, the Federal Pell Grant program distributed $28.2 billion in aid, a record increase of $10 billion from the 2008-2009 school year. According to the report, that aid reached 7.7 million students across the country.
Of course, there are undoubtedly plenty of families who have not received any or enough financial aid to afford the increasing cost of sending their children to college.
As Mark Kantrowitz explained in a recent MainStreet article, families can maximize the amount of financial aid available to them by “shifting the assets from the child’s name to the parent’s name." This can increase the student’s chances at being eligible for additional aid. And the best way to do that is to invest money that is in your child’s name into a 529 college savings plan.
If you’ve spent all your funds on college and want to pursue higher education beyond that, check out these great graduate school programs where tuition is free or heavily discounted.