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POOR ECONOMY HITS COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: Tuition and Fees Continue to Increase

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"Median annual income for bachelor's degree recipients is 80 percent higher than median income for those with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, the gap in earnings between those with a high school diploma and a B.A. (or higher) exceeds $1,000,000."

Two new reports from the College Board indicate that the recent economic downturn and tightening state budgets have forced many colleges to raise revenue though increases in tuition and fees. In the 2002-2003 school year, average tuition and fees at public four year colleges and universities is $4,081, an increase of 9.6 percent; four-year private institutions charge an average of $18,273, an increase of 5.8 percent.

Despite increases in costs, approximately 38 percent of undergraduate students attend four-year colleges and universities that charge less than $4,000 in tuition and fees, according to Trends in College Pricing. Almost 70 percent face tuition charges of less than $8,000 while only 7 percent are enrolled in institutions charging tuition of $24,000 or more per year. Because over half of all students receive some form of student aid, the report says, these numbers significantly overestimate the actual amount students pay for tuition and fees.

There is some good news for college students: Student aid reached more than $90 billion in 2001-2002, an increase of 11.5 percent, according to Trends in Student Aid. However, the maximum federal Pell Grant covers only 42 percent of average public four-year institutions’ fixed costs (tuition and fees, room and board), compared to 84 percent 20 years ago.

Both reports stress the importance of going to college versus settling for a high school diploma, despite the increasing costs: “Median annual income for bachelor’s degree recipients is 80 percent higher than median income for those with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, the gap in earnings between those with a high school diploma and a B.A. (or higher) exceeds $1,000,000.”

The College Board issues Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid together in order to provide a complete picture of the financing of postsecondary educational opportunity in America. One provides the latest information on college charges and expenses. The other tracks the amount of financial assistance available to help pay these bills.

Community Colleges: An Untapped Source for Developing High-Quality Teachers

According to a new report by Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. the nation’s 1,100 community colleges could help to fill more than 25 percent of teacher vacancies over the next decade, but continue to be overlooked as a resource. The report also found that community colleges currently train more than one in five educators.

Because community colleges enroll a more diverse student body than traditional four year colleges and universities, teachers educated at community colleges help to fill hard-to-staff vacancies in some of the country’s most challenging schools. Not only do they live in the urban communities in which they teach, they often stay longer and perform better than graduates from four-year institutions.

Despite their potential, the report did list several challenges that community colleges across the country are facing. Because community college students typically balance jobs and family with schooling, they do not finish their bachelor’s degrees and enter the workforce as quickly as their counterparts. In addition, growing enrollment and shrinking state budgets are forcing community colleges to raise tuition and fees. In some cases, these increases make enrollment too expensive for prospective students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In Iowa, for example, almost all of the state’s 15 community colleges had to cut budgets and raise tuition this fall. At the same time, enrollment grew by seven percent, increasing class sizes and causing waiting lists for more popular programs.

More Information on the Report

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