The price of college again rose faster than the inflation rate this year, climbing 6.6 percent at four-year public schools and outstripping increases in the financial aid that lowers what most students actually pay.
The latest increases, reported Monday by the College Board, bring the average list price of four-year public universities to $6,185 this year, up $381 from 2006-2007. At four-year private colleges, tuition and fees rose 6.3 percent to $23,712.
Public two-year colleges - which educate about half of American college students - again got the best marks for keeping a lid on price increases. Their average price rose 4.2 percent to $2,361. Accounting for aid, their average net cost is only $320 per year.
"For too long, parents have grimaced and borne the high price of college because they presumed that a higher education is key to their child's success in today's economy," said James Boyle, president of the group College Parents of America, in a statement on the report. "Surely, the day will come - soon - when parents say enough is enough."
The published price is not the real price for many students, thanks to financial aid, but the net price is rising too. On average, accounting for grants and tax breaks, the net price for full-time students at four-year public universities this year is $2,580. That's about $160 more than last year.
At private colleges, net cost this year averages $14,400 - up $638 from a year ago.
To make up the difference, students typically borrow as much as allowed from the federal government, but then turn to private student loans. A decade ago, nonfederal loans accounted for about 6 percent of student aid, but last year they were 24 percent.
The rate of growth in private borrowing slowed last year. But that was at least partly because of new rules allowing graduates students to take out PLUS loans from the federal government, reducing their need for private loans. For undergraduates, private borrowing still rose 12 percent to $14.5 billion.
Including room and board for students living on campus, charges for public four-year colleges were $13,589, or 5.9 percent higher than last year. At private four-year schools, average total charges come to $32,307.
George Washington University in Washington, D.C., recently attracted attention for becoming the first major university with a published price, including room and board, of more than $50,000.
However, the percentage of college-goers who pay such large sums is fairly small. Fewer than 10 percent of students even attend colleges with tuition and fees higher than $30,000, according to the College Board, and many of those students receive financial aid. About 56 percent of students at four-year colleges attend schools listing a price under $10,000, and about one-third attend schools charging under $6,000.
The cost of an education at Kansas University remains higher than the average list price at four-year public universities.
At KU, incoming freshmen under the school's guaranteed tuition plan pay an average of $7,145 a year, not including room and board or course fees that are charged in some schools. Other students not paying guaranteed tuition pay an average of $6,599 a year. Out-of-state students pay significantly more.
Those numbers are an increase from last year, when students paid an average of $6,153 a year, not including room and board or course fees. That's an increase of 7.2 percent for continuing and transfer students and an increase of about 16 percent for incoming freshmen. Incoming freshmen, however, will see no increase in their costs for four years.
If room and board is added for students living on campus, the annual cost of an education at KU rises to $14,515 for incoming freshmen and $13,969 for other students. Both numbers are higher than the national average at four-year public schools.