Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing 2015

By Betsy Prueter

The College Board recently released its two annual reports on the price of college and student financial aid.

Trends in College Pricing 2015 provides data on current and historical published tuition, fees and expenses for undergraduate students, as well as current and trend data on the net price of an undergraduate education.  Trends in Student Aid 2015 provides current and historical data on the types of financial assistance made to undergraduate and graduate students to finance their educations, including federal, state, institutional and private grants, loans, work study and education tax benefits.

In addition, the report also provides information on cumulative student debt loads and student loan defaults.

Among the finding in both reports:

  • Tuition and fees at four-year public institutions in 2015-16 were 40% higher than they were in 2005-2006.
    • At public two-year institutions, tuition and fees were 29% higher than ten years ago and at private nonprofits colleges, tuition and fees were 26% higher than ten years ago.
  • Looking at one-year change, average tuition and fees for public four-year institutions increased by 2.9% (or $265) for in-state students from 2014-15 to 2015-16. Adding in room and board charges, the average total cost was $19,548.
    • Average tuition and fees at four-year private, nonprofit institutions rose by 3.6% (or $1,122) from 2014-15 to 2015-16, and total cost was $43,921.
    • Average tuition and fees at public two-years increased by 3% (or $99).
    • Average tuition and fees in the for-profit sector increased by 3% (or $450).
  • Net price, or what students and families actually pay out of pocket after aid is taken into account, increased in all sectors between 2010-11 and 2015-16.
    • At public four-year schools, net price averaged $3,980 ($1,100 higher than 10 years ago).
    • At private, four-year nonprofit schools, net price averaged $14,890 ($190 higher than 10 years ago).
  • In 2011-12, 85% of full-time students from low-income families attending public two-year colleges and 62% of those attending public four-year institutions received enough grant aid to cover their entire tuition and fees.
    • However, these students faced total budgets, including housing, food, books, and other expenses, that exceeded their grant aid by an average of $8,090 at public two-year colleges and $12,000 in the public four-year sector.
  • In 2011-12, 31% of full-time students from low-income families attending private nonprofit four-year colleges and 4% of those attending for-profit institutions received enough grant aid to cover their entire tuition and fees.
    • However, these students faced total budgets, including housing, food, books, and other expenses, that exceeded their grant aid by an average of $19,520 at private nonprofit four-year colleges and $24,270 in the for-profit sector.
  • Overall, in 2015-16, full-time undergraduate students received an average of $14,210 in financial aid.
    • This includes $8,170 in grants, $4800 in federal loans, $1,170 in tax credits and $70 in federal work-study.
  • The number of students receiving Pell Grants increased from 5.3 million in 2004-05 to 8.2 million in 2014-15.
    • The average Pell Grant per recipient was $3,673 in 2014-15.
  • The maximum Pell Grant covered 74% of average public four-year tuition and fees in 2005-06, but only 61% in 2015-16.
    • It covered 19% of average private nonprofit four-year tuition and fees in 2005-06, and 18% in 2015-16.
  • In 2014-15, total annual borrowing declined for the fourth consecutive year. Students and parents borrowed 14% less in 2014-15 than in 2010-11.
    • In 2014, 39% of borrowers with outstanding debt owed less than $10,000, and another 28% owed between $10,000 and $25,000; 4% of borrowers owed $100,000 or more.
    • Only 11% of dependent 2011-12 bachelor’s degree recipients borrowed $40,000 or more.