Most (and Least) Costly States to Go to College
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) It's that time of year. The non-profit College Board has published its annual Trends in College Pricing and, no surprise, the annual cost of a college education went up in the five years to 2013-2014, even after adjusting for inflation.
But it's not rising evenly across all states. So MainStreet crunched the numbers to bring you the sharpest increases, the steepest declines, the highest highs and the lowest lows in four-year higher education.
Here are this year's state higher education movers and shakers.
State with biggest in-state public tuition increase: Arizona
Arizona's in-state tuition and fees increased more than any other state, going up a whopping 70% over the past five years after adjusting for inflation. The jump has caused Arizona, which used to be among the cheaper places to go to school, to become one of only fifteen states where degrees now cost more than $10,000 a year.
Tuition in the state rose as the state slashed its subsidies to public universities. Appropriations for higher education fell 31.9% in the five years to 2012, more than every state except New Hampshire. In 2013, Arizona spent less on each student enrolled in a higher education institution than any state besides Colorado and New Hampshire.
Arizona's stinginess may not have indicated a lack of commitment to higher education, so much as a grim budgetary reality. In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, it had a larger budget deficit as a percent of its general fund than any other state, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In 2011, it still had the country's third largest budget deficit and in 2012 it remained in the top ten.
But if you're going to school in Arizona, remember, it could be worse. Tuition at four-year public universities in Washington, D.C. (a district, not a state) rose even more, jumping 81% over five years.
State with biggest private school tuition increase: Hawaii
If you want to spend your university years hitting the beach and drinking Mai Tais, it's going to cost you. Tuition at private non-profit universities in Hawaii rose 27% over five years, narrowly beating out Texas, where tuition rose 26%. Hawaii's one-year increase was also the steepest of any state at 4%. Still, overall tuition remains relatively low at an average of $14,694, cheaper than private schools in all but three other states.
"Part of this is simply a price correction, bringing it into line of what we've seen on the mainland," said Jason Lum, a Hawaii based private college counselor with ScholarEdge College Consulting. "The justifications for raising tuition have always been, 'Hey, we're charging you more...but it could be a lot worse."
Hawaii's private universities, and there are only three main ones, have a "captive market" of students who tend to stay in state, rather than travel to the mainland for school, Lum said. They compete mainly with the public University of Hawaii at Manoa, which raised rates 49% over the period, more than all but six other state flagship universities, giving them the wiggle room to raise rates. They also benefited from Hawaii's economy, which wasn't as hard hit by the recession as the mainland U.S., Lum said.