NAICU Statement on the College Board's Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid Reports

October 29, 2008

CONTACT:     Tony Pals, 
office: 202-739-0474     cell: 202-288-9333

Statement by David L. Warren, President, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, on the 2008 College Board Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid Reports


Every private college and university president understands the financial challenges facing students and families, and their concerns about growing college tuition.  In these tough economic times, job one of every private college and university will be keeping their student aid budgets in line with growing financial need, and working creatively to keep student out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.  

In the coming months, we will see independent institutions digging deep to find the financial resources necessary to remain an affordable option for students from all backgrounds.  Spending in other areas of campus budgets will be curtailed at many institutions, as endowment returns fall and fund raising slows.  Some institutions will implement hiring freezes, and some will put campus construction and renovation projects on hold.

Despite a significant jump in inflation, private colleges kept their average tuition increase for 2008-09 to 5.9 percent.  When adjusted for inflation, this translates into a 0.3 percent increase.  Institutionally-provided student aid, which historically rises at a faster rate than tuition, further tempers the impact of this increase on student out-of-pocket costs.  If current economic patterns continue, it is possible that some tuition increases next year will be higher than the usual 5 to 6 percent at our institutions.  However, the volatile nature of the stock market, and the unknown impact of the election outcome on the nation’s economic path, makes forecasting college pricing decisions difficult.  Most private colleges set tuition for the coming year during the winter or spring. 

No student should rule out a private college and university without first checking with the institution about financial aid options.  Over the past 10 years, independent institutions have increased student aid by 250 percent, more than three times the rate of tuition (72 percent).  Students at private colleges receive six times as much in grant aid from their institutions as from all federal sources.  Eighty-one percent of full-time, dependent students at private colleges receive institutional grant aid, averaging $10,011.  As a result, our institutions enroll the same percentage of low-income and minority students as public four-year universities. 

Private colleges will think and act creatively to enhance their affordability while maintaining quality, within their financial means.  Already, Augustana College has announced that its 2009-10 tuition increase will be its lowest in 25 years, Benedictine University is freezing its tuition rate for the next two years, and Vanderbilt University will replace need-based loans with grants beginning next year.

More information about private college tuition and student aid trends, new campus affordability initiatives, and college cost-cutting efforts is available on the NAICU Web site at


NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education.  With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States.  NAICU members enroll 85 percent of all students attending private institutions.  They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions. 


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