Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Student Fees Have Risen Faster Than Tuition in Past Decade

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Student Fees Have Risen Faster Than Tuition in Past Decade

Article excerpt

A new study shows that the fees public colleges and universities charge students to use campus facilities and cover operation costs have actually risen faster than tuition. Using Department of Education data, Seton Hall University professor Robert Kelchen found that inflation-adjusted fees grew faster than tuition at state schools between the 1999-2000 and 2012-13 academic years. During that time, fees at community colleges soared 104 percent, while tuition climbed by 50 percent. Fees at four-year public colleges skyrocketed 95 percent over that period, eclipsing the 66 percent hike in tuition at the same time.

Public colleges and universities have ratcheted up tuition to offset a retreat in state higher education funding, especially after the 2008 economic recession placed pressure on state budgets. The downturn gave way to the highest increases in tuition and fees, with tuition climbing 5 percent above inflation and fees increasing 7 percent in the 2009-10 school year alone. As the economic recovery got under way, the pace of growth slowed to about 3 percent in 2012- 13, but by that time the average fees were $1,719 at four-year institutions and $467 at public community colleges.

Although tuition accounts for a hefty portion of the cost of college, fees add on over 20 percent to the price of tuition at the average four-year public university, Kelchen said. The median fee was nearly $1,300 for full-time students at those schools in 2012- 13. However, schools in five states, including Virginia, New Jersey and Connecticut, charged an average institutional fee of more than $2,500, with Massachusetts charging the highest average fee of $8,280. At the low end of the scale, public colleges in Hawaii, Kentucky and Michigan all charged less than $500 per year in fees, with Mississippi schools asking for the lowest average fee of $238. …

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