NAICU Washington Update

Annual Report Looks at Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid

October 30, 2020

According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2020 report, private, nonprofit colleges and universities showed a 2% increase in average published tuition and fees between 2019-20 and 2020-21.  However, the findings also show an 81% increase (between 2006-07 and 2017-18, and adjusting for inflation) in the average institutional grant aid provided by private, nonprofit colleges and universities per first-time, full-time undergraduate student.  The data also show that among all higher education sectors, federal student loan default rates were lowest for students attending private, nonprofit colleges and universities.
Key findings for private, nonprofit four-year colleges and universities:
  • Average published tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates increased by 2.1 percent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to $37,650.
  • Average net tuition and fees increased by $410 to $15,990. This is only $160 more than the average in 2007-08.
  • The average subsidy (difference between expenditures and net tuition revenue) per full-time equivalent (FTE) student increased at all types of institutions between 2012-13 and 2017-18, after declining during the previous five years. At doctoral universities, the average subsidy was $18,490; at master’s institutions, it was $3,040; at bachelor’s colleges, it was $12,410.
  • Federal student loan default rates for the FY 2017 cohort were the lowest among all higher education sectors – 5.7%.
  • Average cumulative debt among borrowers increased slightly to $33,700 in 2018-19, compared to $32,600 in 2013-14.
  • Between 2006-07 and 2017-18, average institutional grant aid per first-time full-time undergraduate student increased by 81% after adjusting for inflation from $9,550 to $17,250. During the same period the percentage of students receiving institutional grant aid increased from 73% to 82%.
These trends provide a glimpse into the responses to the challenges facing higher education during the pandemic. Institutions are extending institutional aid budgets even as enrollment and corresponding net tuition revenues decline in many cases. Students from lower income families are having particular difficulties, as shown in NAICU’s recent enrollment study, which found nearly an 8% decline in Pell Grant recipients this fall compared to last fall. But, the full impact of the pandemic on colleges and universities is unlikely to be felt for years to come.

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