On campus beat: Rise slows in sticker prices for colleges

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 24, 2012 - 6:43 PM

College prices are still rising in Minnesota -- but at slower rate.

In-state tuition and fees at the state's public four-year universities grew an average of 2 percent, to $10,388, according to a new report by the College Board.

At public two-year colleges, the sticker price rose 3 percent, to an average of $5,380.

That compares with national averages of 4.8 percent at four-year universities and 5.8 percent at two-year colleges.

But Minnesota's public colleges and universities still rank among the most expensive, the report shows.

The state's public community and technical colleges have the third-highest sticker price in the country. Those colleges account for a lot of students -- 44 percent of those enrolled in the state's public institutions. That's the 12th-largest percentage in the nation.

"Many times our policymakers tend to talk as if everybody went to four-year colleges," said Tricia Grimes, policy analyst at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. "In reality, a big chunk of our students attend two-year schools."

Of the nation's flagship universities, the University of Minnesota had the sixth-highest rise in resident tuition and fees over the past five years, after adjusting for inflation. The report points out that falling state funding is one big reason behind such increases.

So far, we've been talking sticker prices.

But about two-thirds of students pay less than the published price, Sandy Baum, a co-author of the report, said in a phone call Tuesday with reporters. The price students actually pay after grants and scholarships -- known as the "net price" -- had in recent years leveled off and even dropped, thanks to a bump in federal grants and tax credits.

This year, that average net price rose more than 4 percent, the biggest increase since 2003. (The report does not break down net price averages by state.)

"The net tuition is rising," Baum said, "so the burden on students is rising."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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