Statement from American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) President Muriel Howard on the College Board's Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2009 Report

The numbers in the Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid report demonstrate that an affordable, quality higher education is attainable -- especially at AASCU institutions.

The recession has been hard on higher education, especially on public colleges and universities. And yet, almost half of the nation’s full-time students were enrolled at four-year public schools that raised tuition and fees less than $400. About 33 percent of full-time public four-year college students attend institutions with published prices of less than $6,000 per year, and nearly 75 percent attend institutions with tuition and fees under $9,000 per year.

Trends in Student Pricing finds a 5.7 percent decrease in per-student appropriations for higher education in 2008-09. That translates to an average cut of $482, but public institutions raised their tuition and fees by an average of only $429. Meanwhile, private colleges and universities' endowment assets per full-time equivalent student ranged from $1,744 to $455,057 but raised their tuition and fees by an average $1,096.

Public institutions also educate the neediest students, who are facing steep cuts in financial support, such as federal campus-based aid programs. The College Board’s Trends in Student Aid shows that Federal College Work-Study funds decreased by 5 percent from 1998-99 to 2008-09, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) decreased by 8 percent.

As our country faces increasing challenges in the global marketplace, it is imperative that we invest in preparing all our students to compete. AASCU members are deeply committed to providing students access to higher education. That mission is reflected in the historically lower tuition and fee increases they impose compared to all other public four-year colleges and universities.

Public funds spent on higher education—even in a recession—are investments in both state economies and national priorities. In order to facilitate greater access to public postsecondary education and the achievement of American educational goals laid out by the Obama Administration, AASCU will continue advocating for the elevation of public support for higher education as a public policy priority.

The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid reports provide the higher education community and consumers with valuable and timely information on the subject of college costs, access and affordability of postsecondary education in the United States.