Tuition fees rise at U.S. colleges

While in-state undergraduates at the University of California have not seen a tuition increase in the last eight years, the College Board said last week that students attending four-year public institutions in the United States are paying nearly 10 percent more in tuition and fees than they did a year ago.

Drawing upon the nonprofit group’s own Annual Survey of Colleges, the College Board found that an average increase in tuition and fees of over 5 percent was levied onto all undergraduates at four- and two-year institutions. The study examined over 2,400 public and private colleges.

The College Board stated that last year’s economic recession resulted in a decline in state tax revenues and endowment gifts, forcing students to make up the losses with their own money.

“”The states did not do very well financially last year,”” said Jennifer Topiel, a spokesperson for College Board. “”Because public colleges rely so heavily on state budgets, the expenses that couldn’t be covered were passed down to the students.””

This year’s tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities increased by an average of $356, or 9.6 percent, from the 2001-02 school year. Four-year private institutions saw an increase of $1,001, or 5.8 percent. Tuition and fees at public and private two-year colleges rose 7.9 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.

Despite widespread tuition increases around the nation, in-state UC students have not seen an increase in education registration fees for eight consecutive years. While campus-specific fees have increased gradually via student referendums, in-state UC students will pay $3,429 this school year in tuition fees and about another $430 in campus-related fees, according to UC officials.

Nonresidents were subjected to a 10-percent increase in tuition fees in fall 2002 to compensate the cuts made to the UC budget by Gov. Gray Davis and the state legislature. Over $20 billion was slashed from the 2002-03 state budget, forcing the University of California to find an alternate way to fund outreach programs such as the K-12 School-University Partnership and Central Valley Outreach.

UC spokesperson Hanan Eisnenman said that California has still made affordable education a priority, even in light of an economic downturn.

“”Affordability is really a cornerstone of the University of California,”” he said. “”One thing UC is known for is keeping campuses accessible for students of all economic backgrounds.””

A.S. Council Vice President External Steve Klass, who is also a chair of the UC Student Association, said that while in-state tuition fees have not increased, the UC Board of Regents has been raising fees that the state has bought out time and again. Klass said he is skeptical of the state covering the increasing costs in what appears to be another year of economic uncertainty.

“”I recognize that in these difficult times, tough choices must be made,”” Klass said. “”However, to raise student fees and cut the UC budget is extremely myopic.””

Despite the rising costs of a postsecondary education, College Board officials were still quick to point out the benefits of a college degree. According to the College Board, 1.1 million jobs requiring a college degree were created last year while 2 million non-degree jobs were eliminated in that time.

“”Despite this year’s increases, public colleges and universities are still a remarkable value,”” College Board President Gaston Caperton said. “”It is more important than ever that we encourage our students to pursue a college degree.””