College Costs Rise, Student Debt Now at $1 Trillion

The price of 30 semester hours of tuition and a year’s worth of fees at four-year institutions went up from between 3.6 percent to 10.7 percent (depending on the institution) across the state of Texas, writes Greg Kendall-Ball at the Reporter News.

According to a report by The Associated Press, the national average for in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public university rose by just over 8 percent, compared to last year.

Nationally, a full credit load has passed $8,000 per year, an all-time high, and year, total outstanding student loan debt passed $1 trillion, more than Americans owe in credit card debt.

At Abilene’s three private universities, tuition and fees rose by an average of 7.9 percent, just 0.4 percent below the national average.

Kevin Campbell, chief enrollment officer at Abilene Christian University, said the gross increase in costs to students may have been more than $2,400, but due to increases in grants and scholarships, students paid an average of $708 more per year. So in real terms, students are paying just 3.1 percent more than last year.

The increase affects about 600 incoming freshman, said Hardin-Simmons University spokeswoman Janlyn Thaxton. For the past two decades, HSU has offered a tuition freeze program, where a student pays the same price for tuition all four years.

“It is a cost that will never go up as long as they remain full-time students. Generally, for other institutions, when tuition is raised, it affects the entire student body,” she said.

At the two-year community Cisco College, there was no increase this year for district residents, and a 6.5 percent increase for out-of-district residents.

“We had a small increase in property tax rates, from 11.1 cents to 11.5 cents per $100 of valuation, that allowed us to keep our tuition the same for in-district students,” said Amy Evans, Cisco College spokeswoman.

Out-of-district residents’ cost is now $3,240, up $210 from last year.

Although the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M in College Station saw increases, a year of tuition and fees costs half that of a local private school.

UT-Austin reported a 4 percent increase, up to $9,792 for a year’s tuition and fees. Texas A&M bumped its rates $7, or 0.01 percent, over last year. A new Aggie will pay $8,659 in tuition and fees this year.