Higher Education:

Tuition Increasing Faster Than Household Income and Public Colleges' Costs

HEHS-96-154: Published: Aug 15, 1996. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1996.

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to congressional requests, GAO provided information on: (1) changes in college tuition levels relative to increases in consumer prices and families' ability to pay; (2) the extent that increased expenditures for instruction, administration, research, and other services have contributed to the increase in colleges' overall expenditures; (3) how tuition levels at public colleges and universities vary among the states and the factors that account for the differences; and (4) what actions states and institutions have taken to deal with affordability issues.

GAO found that: (1) between 1980 and 1995, average tuition at 4-year public colleges for in-state, full-time students increased 234 percent, while median household income increased 82 percent and the Consumer Price Index increased 74 percent; (2) the increase in colleges' expenditures and a greater dependency on tuition as a revenue source were the two factors most responsible for the tuition increase; (3) tuition revenues increased from 16 percent to 23 percent during this period, mainly because the revenue share provided by states decreased 14 percent; (4) student grant aid has not kept pace with tuition levels, so students and their families are relying more heavily on loans and personal finances; (5) increases in instruction, administrative, and research costs accounted for more than two-thirds of the 121 percent increase in total college expenditures; (6) expenditures for scholarships and fellowships, student services, and plant operations and maintenance, which also rose faster than inflation, accounted for about one-fourth of the increase; (7) for school year 1995-96, in-state student tuition at 4-year public colleges ranged from $1,524 to $5,521, with a nationwide average of $2,865; (8) states' level of financial support to colleges accounted for most of the variation in tuition levels, but there was a strong correlation between state and local tax rates, median household income, and colleges' expenditures per student and state tuition levels; and (9) states and colleges are taking actions to address college affordability issues, such as limiting tuition increases, providing payment alternatives, and speeding academic progress.

Mar 12, 2014

Feb 27, 2014

Feb 18, 2014

Feb 7, 2014

Feb 5, 2014

Jan 31, 2014

Dec 5, 2013

Nov 15, 2013

Sep 24, 2013

Looking for more? Browse all our products here