NEW YORK -- The College Board's latest report on college costs shows that tuition at public four-year schools rose by 24% beyond inflation over the last five years. At the same time, net tuition costs have actually decreased by 26% over that same period due to higher government grants, tuition-related tax credits, and expanded college aid for veterans. The net effect is lower actual tuition costs for students.
According to data released by The College Board, the current average cost of tuition and fees at a U.S. public university is $7,605. Five years ago, those fees were an inflation-adjusted $6133, an increase of 24%.
After grants and tax credits are factored, the average college student at a four-year public college is paying $1,540 in tuition, compared to an average net cost of $2,080 five years ago, also adjusted for inflation. That represents a decrease of 26%.
The net tuition decrease for students of four-year public colleges is attributed to higher financial aid, not factoring in student loans. For example, institutional grant aid from colleges increased 10% over the last year alone. Total grant aid to undergraduate students rose a staggering 22 percent over the same year, thanks largely to a 56% increase in Pell grants in a single year. In addition, the federal tuition tax credit provides tax relief of up to $2,500 in college tuition for each of the first four years that a dependent is in school.