NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Regulations Help Push Up College Costs

February 10, 2000

College tuition has increased faster than inflation over the past 10 years and academics warn the trend will continue over the coming decade. The increases are reportedly forcing students to drop out or "max out" on student loans.

  • Tuition increased about 50 percent over the past decade -- 4.6 percent this scholastic year alone, compared to the current inflation rate of about 3 percent.
  • Tuition hikes are expected to exceed inflation by 1 or 2 percentage points annually in the next 10 years.
  • William Troutt, chairman of the National Committee on the Cost of Higher Education, says that an estimated 12.5 cents out of every $1 increase in tuition goes to pay for compliance with federal regulations.
  • Universities are also said to be engaged in an academic "arms race" to get better ratings by hiring more prestigious professors or funding new programs or better high-tech facilities.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) accused college administrators of taking advantage of the increased availability of government student loans to increase tuition. She said lawmakers are reconsidering federal student aid policies -- which might be having the effect of fueling tuition increases and discouraging poorer students from attending college.

With other costs for room, board and books, the price of an undergraduate degree now averages $10,909 at public colleges and $23,651 at private colleges.

Senate Government Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) drew attention, in hearings yesterday, to the fact that even well-endowed institutions are boosting tuition. "As the stock market goes up and endowments go up, tuition goes up, too," he noted. "Perhaps we are not looking at this correctly."

Source: Lance Gay, "Unchecked Growth Faulted as Tuition Rises Top Inflation," Washington Times, February 10, 2000.


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