Statistical Snapshot

March 15, 2005

Public four-year colleges and for-profit two-year colleges increased their annual tuition and fees at higher rates than any other institutions between 1998-99 and 2003-4, according to an Education Department report released Monday.

The report, Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2003 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2002-03, is among the studies that the department's National Center for Education Statistics releases each year that, taken together, provide a statistical portrait of higher education. This study focuses on how many institutions there are (and what kind), what they charge, and how many degrees and certificates they award.

On tuitions, the report compares the average tuition and required fees charged to undergraduates by different sectors of degree-granting institutions in 1998-99 and 2003-4. It finds that in-state students at four-year public institutions paid 41 percent more, and out-of-state students 35 percent more, in 2003-4 than they did five years earlier. Tuition and fees at two-year public institutions rose by 26 percent for in-state students and 22 percent for out-of-state students.

Four-year private nonprofit institutions increased their tuition and fees by 30 percent over that period, while two-year private institutions raised their prices by 25 percent.

Undergraduate tuition and fees rose 37 percent at four-year for-profit institutions
rose and 43 percent at two-year for-profit colleges.

The dollar amounts of the increases at private nonprofit colleges, however, outpaced those at public institutions. The average increase at private four-year institutions was $3,539, compared to $2,946 for out-of-state students at public four-year institutions, $1,328 for students at two-year public institutions, and $3,250 for students at four-year for-profit colleges.

The report also compares the cost of attendance, which includes living costs, at different sectors of institutions, and finds that private institutions, both for-profit and nonprofit, significantly outpace public institutions. The average cost of attendance to live on a campus in 2003-4 was $26,626 at a for-profit four-year university, $25,029 at a nonprofit four-year university, $20,328 at a four-year public college for an out-of-state student, and $13,455 at a four-year public college for an in-state student.

Among the report's other findings:

  • Of the 4,236 degree-granting institutions that qualified to award federal financial aid to their students in 2003-4, 634 were public four-year institutions, 1,086 were public two-year colleges, 1,546 were four-year private nonprofit institutions, 350 were four-year for-profit institutions, and 502 were for-profit two-year institutions.
  • Institutions in the United States awarded 2.6 million degrees in the 2002-3 academic year, of which about 633,000 were associate degrees,1.35 million were bachelor's degrees, 513,000 were master's degrees, and 46,000 were doctorates.
  • Women earned 60 percent of all associate degrees and 57.5 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded in the United States in 2002-3.
  • Sixty-six percent of associate degree recipients and 70 percent of bachelor's degree recipients at American institutions in 2002-3 were white. For other racial groups, the numbers were as follows: African-Americans, 11.4 percent of associate degrees and 8.7 percent of bachelor's degrees; Hispanics, 10 percent of associate degrees and 6.3 percent of bachelor's degrees; Asian/Pacific Islanders, 4.9 percent of associate degrees and 6.2 percent of bachelor's degrees, and  American Indian/Alaska Natives, 1.1 percent of associate degrees and 0.7 percent of bachelor's degrees. The rest either did not identify their race or were nonresident aliens.

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