The College Board is a non-profit organization that plays an important role in the college process. Founded in 1900, its membership has grown to over 6000 educational institutions worldwide. The Board’s mission is to help high school students prepare for a successful transition to college, including the SAT. It also conducts research on the education industry. A look at a few of their reports provides some insights on trends in college affordability:
• Trends in College Pricing 2014: This report concludes that published tuition and fee prices rose between 2.9% and 3.7% from 2013-14 to 2014-15, depending on in-state, out-of-state, and type of college. These figures are compared to the Consumer Price Index which only rose 2% during a comparable period. Despite the increase in published prices, though, it also showed that the amount paid after taking college financial aid, tax benefits, and inflation into consideration actually declined between 2004-05 and 2009-10 at certain institutions.
• Trends in Student Aid 2014: The federal and state governments made adjustments to their financial aid programs to help students keep up with rising costs. As a result, grants increased as a percentage of all student aid plus non-federal loans to 49% in 2013-14. Undergraduate and graduate students received over $238 billion in grants, federal work-study, federal loans, and federal tax credits in 2013-14. Despite the increase in aid, students borrowed an additional $10 billion from private, state and other sources. About 60% of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree borrowed an average of $27,300.
• Education Pays 2013: Of course, the ability to repay student loans is based on current income levels as well as anticipated future earning capabilities. This report documents many of the well-known benefits of a college education: higher likelihood of gaining employment, increased earning potential, improved health and pension benefits, and healthier lifestyles. They also expand on these benefits in How College
• Shapes Lives: Understanding the Issues from October 2013.
The benefits of a college education still outweigh the negatives for both the student and society at large. Much has been made in the news media about the student loan crisis, but 58% of the borrowers are in active repayment. Some seem to think that totally revamping the student loan system will solve the problem, but that might only serve to decrease access and further separate the classes. College costs are increasing due to many factors, and any increases in federal and state aid come from the taxpayer base. The pain will only stop when we look at the true causes and take more individual responsibility in planning, and paying, for a college education.
To find out more about saving for college, paying for college, and financial aid, talk to a professional College Financial Aid Advisor who can help make sure you understand all of the options and opportunities that are available to you. Contact College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA) or visit my About.com website, Paying for College, for more information.