Note: NEBHE’s 2013 Public Tuition and Fees in New England Report was revised in April 2014, and some figures have changed. Please see the report for the most recent data, and contact Gretchen Syverud at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Students and families now need 18% of the median household income in New England to pay average in-state published tuition and fees at a public 4-year institution, according to NEBHE’s recently released report on tuition and mandatory fees (not including room and board) at public postsecondary institutions in New England.
Analyzing trends in average in- and out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees rates at public 2- and 4-year institutions in New England from academic year 2008-09 to 2013-14, the report finds that tuition increases have slowed in recent years, but continue to outpace modest growth in median household income.
- Average in-state published tuition and mandatory fees at public 2-year institutions rose 2.6% ($116) in the last year and 22% ($842) in the past five years.
- In 2008, average in-state published tuition and fees at a public 2-year institution represented 6.7% of the region’s median household income. In 2013, that share has increased to 7.9%.
- Average in-state published tuition and fees at public 4-year institutions rose 2% ($191) in the last year and 30% ($2,375) in the past five years.
- In 2008, average in-state published tuition and fees at a public 4-year institution represented 14% of the region’s median household income. In 2013, that share has increased to 18%.
Published tuition and mandatory fees rates signify the “sticker price” that, while certainly influential in some students’ decision to enroll in institutions of higher education, do not tell the whole story of affordability. Federal, state, institutional and private sources of student aid are available to reduce the actual cost students pay from the published tuition rate. In recognition of college affordability efforts across the region, the report provides an overview of state strategies and financial aid policies and programs.
Unfortunately, relatively stable levels of state funding for need-based grant programs have not been enough to offset a combination of rising tuition and mandatory fees and rising numbers of financially needy students. States and institutions across the region have turned to other strategies such as:
- Freezing tuition or fees (as Maine and Rhode Island have done);
- Creating incentives for college savings accounts (such as grants to new 529 college savings accounts created for babies born in Maine and Rhode Island);
- Redesigning state financial aid programs (such as the creation of a comprehensive grant program called the Governor’s Scholarship in Connecticut); and
- Studying the feasibility of implementing more innovative college-financing schemes (like Oregon’s Pay It Forward model, currently being examined in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont).
However, as the fiscal year develops, some state institutions and systems, such as the University of Maine and the University of Connecticut systems, are facing budget shortfalls, which will likely affect college affordability for residents. Increasing tuition and fees and cutting financial aid have been suggested as solutions to these fiscal problems, which might threaten the progress states have made in the past few years.
Gretchen Syverud is a NEBHE policy research analyst.