3 Key Stats From ED’s New Tuition Prices Study

By Katy Hopkins, Communications Staff

What is the Price of College?” a new report from the Department of Education’s (ED) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is the latest proof that college sticker prices do not equal the bills most students will ultimately receive. Here are a few important figures from the study: 

  • 84.4 percent: The percentage of full-time undergraduates enrolled in any institution type who received any financial aid (federal or otherwise) for the 2011-12 award year. For the purposes of the NCES report, financial aid may include “grants, loans, work-study, job training benefits, Veterans’ benefits, and Direct PLUS Loans to parents of dependent undergraduates.” These students received an average total of $15,500 in aid.
  • 72.4 percent: The percentage of students above who received any grant aid, which may have included “grants, scholarships, or tuition waivers from federal, state, institutional, or private sources, including employers.” The average grant aid totaled $9,200 for recipients.
  • 56.4 percent: The percentage of full-time undergraduates, at any institution type, who borrowed a loan to help pay for college. (This excludes Parent PLUS loans, among other forms of financing.) On average, students borrowed $8,600. 

Though the predominant forms of financial aid received varied by institution type and household income, students across the higher education and income sectors paid, on average, significantly less in total (for costs including tuition and fees, textbooks, room and board, and transportation) than the published prices. For example, the average total price at public two-year institutions for the 2011-12 school year was $15,000. After grants, the average net price dropped to $11,700, and after all aid, including Parent PLUS, was accounted for, average out-of-pocket costs totaled $9,900. 

Four-year institutions had similar drops in prices. At public four-year colleges, the average total price for full-time undergraduates was $23,200, which went down to $18,000 after grants and $11,800 after all aid was considered. Private four-year institutions posted even steeper decreases, going from an average of $43,500 in total costs to $27,900 after grants and $18,100 after all aid. At for-profit institutions, the average total price of $29,300 dipped to $25,200 after grants and $15,000 after all aid. 

For the lowest-income, dependent undergraduates, the decreases from published prices were even more pronounced. These full-time students, from families that made less than $31,224, paid an average total out-of-pocket net price of $7,500 at public two-year colleges, $7,100 at public four-year institutions, $11,000 at private four-year institutions, and $15,000 at for-profit schools. 


Publication Date: 3/27/2015

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