Last Updated: October 27, 2008
The cost of college continues to rise in the United States, though unlike in years past, tuition and fees for 2008–09 rose in step with inflation overall, according to a College Board report this month.
For in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, tuition and fees rose on average 6.4 percent to $6,585 in 2008–09, $394 higher than in 2007–08. And total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, rose on average 5.7 percent to $14,333 in 2008–09 from the year earlier. For out-of-state students at public four-year institutions, tuition and fees rose 5.2 percent to $17,452, some $866 higher than in 2007–08. And total charges rose 5.2 percent to $25,200. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose 5.6 percent between July 2007 and July 2008.
For students at private four-year colleges and universities, tuition and fees rose 5.9 percent to $25,142, $1,398 higher than in 2007–08. And total charges rose 5.6 percent to $34,132 from the year earlier.
The College Board also noted that more financial aid is available for students than ever before, however, the number of private loans for higher education began to shrink even before the current credit crisis. In-state students at public, four-year schools received on average $3,700 in financial aid in 2008–09 while students at private, four-year schools received on average $10,200. Learn more about the College Board's report.
Meanwhile, financial planning experts noted that College Board's report underscores the need for families to plan and save for college costs and not leave such planning or saving to chance or to last-minute efforts that reduce or eliminate options and opportunities.
Experts suggest, for instance, that families learn about 529 college savings plans, prepaid tuition plans, Coverdell ESA, tuition payment plans, as well as how to apply for financial aid and student loans. SallieMae, the nation's leading provider of student loans and an FPA partner, has information about these tools and techniques.
To be sure, the cost of college might appear daunting, but the return on investment is significant, according to the College Board. "For members of all demographic groups, average earnings increase measurably with higher levels of education," the Board said in a report. "During their working lives, typical college graduates earn over 60 percent more than typical high school graduates, and those with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much as high school graduates."
According to College Board, the median salary of full-time workers with a bachelor's degree was $50,900 per year in 2005 vs. $31,500 for full-time workers with a high school degree. ( Read Report).
"The College Board data continues to illustrate the value of higher education," said Martha Holler, vice president of corporate communications at SallieMae. "No doubt, the more you learn, the more you earn."