College tuition at public universities costs students less, reports USA Today.
What students pay on average for tuition at public universities has fallen by nearly one-third since 1998, thanks to new federal tax breaks and a massive increase in state and federal grants to most students and their families.
Financial aid increased by 80 percent, with most of the benefits reaching middle-class families earning $40,000 to $100,000 a year.
While public university tuition increased by 18 percent since 1998, few students pay the listed tuition price, USA Today points out.
In 2003, students paid an average of just 27% of the official tuition price at four-year public universities when grants and tax breaks are counted. Students at private universities paid an average of 57%.
About three quarters of college students attend public universities.
Colleges play a “shell game” with tuition prices, says King Alexander, president of Murray State University in Kentucky.
1. The university raises its official tuition price.
2. The higher tuition qualifies many students for bigger federal and state grants, which are passed on to the school.
3. The university writes a “scholarship” to cover the rest of the tuition hike, so many students don’t actually pay more.
Legislators earn more brownie points with middle-class voters by subsidizing college students directly, rather than increasing funding to public universities.