By ARLENE LEVINSON
Outstripping inflation, the annual cost of a college education has risen to more than $8,400 at four-year public schools and more than $22,500 at private institutions.
The trend is also evident in Washington state.
The College Board reported Monday that in-state tuition and fees at public schools this fall average $3,510 per year, an increase of 4.4 percent, or $148, from last year. Room and board average $4,960, up 5.1 percent.
Western Washington University’s costs rose 7.9 percent, while the University of Washington was up 4.1 percent and Washington State University 3.9 percent.
At private four-year colleges, tuition and fees average $16,332, up 5.2 percent. Room and board is $6,209, an increase of 4.2 percent.
Costs at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, for example, rose 4.1 percent.
Experts said college cost increases around the country have been exceeding inflation for most of the past several years.
"Colleges and universities have a very difficult time controlling their costs," said Joni Finney, a policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in San Jose, Calif. "These institutions were underfunded in the early part of the ’90s. But they’ve more than made up for lost ground."
In 1999, college tuition and fees rose less than 5 percent, while the Consumer Price Index rose 2.7 percent. Through the first eight months of this year, consumer prices have risen 3.5 percent.
Only public two-year schools, chiefly community colleges, stayed below the current inflation rate. Tuition rose this year to $1,705, up 3.4 percent. Private two-year schools boosted tuition and fees to $7,458, a 7 percent rise. Costs at Edmonds Community College rose 2.5 percent, and at Everett Community College they rose 6 percent.
The College Board’s figures reflect the costs for 6.4 million full-time undergraduates — 54 percent attending four-year public institutions, 27 percent at four-year private schools, 17 percent at two-year community colleges and 1 percent at private two-year schools.
A majority of students need grants or loans or both. In the past school year, loans made up 59 percent of a record $68 billion in financial aid. A decade ago, loans made up just over 41 percent of student financial help.
The College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers the SATs, surveyed more than 3,000 schools to find out undergraduate charges for 2000-01. The survey on financial aid was based on federal, state and school statistics from 1999-2000.
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