Where is College Tuition Increasing Most?

Posted By Eliana Osborn on August 17, 2015 at 11:37 am
Where is College Tuition Increasing Most?

No matter where you look, college costs seem to be increasing across the board.  States are cutting funding, investments in technology and campus improvements are becoming more expensive, and alongside it all, students are going into more and more debt to earn their degrees.

The US Department of Education has a tool, the College Affordability and Transparency Center, where users can find out data about tuition and cost increases across a range of school types. And each year, the DOE releases a report of the worst offenders -institutions with the most dramatic changes to student costs.  While critics contend that the report is simply a publicity stunt without any real value, the numbers at the very least provide a starting point for students to ask questions about where their tuition dollars are going – and how their school’s tuition rates compare to others in the same category. Below are the top 20 public schools for increases to tuition and net cost:

Tuition Increases, 2011-2014

Institution State 2011-12 Tuition 2013-14 Tuition % Increase
East Georgia State College GA $2,678 $4,206 57
Northern New Mexico College NM $2,822 $4,060 44
Nicholls State University LA $4,737 $6,468 37
The University of West Florida FL $4,701 $6,357 35
Texas Woman’s University TX $5,429 $7,339 35
Western State Colorado University CO $5,473 $7,343 34
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville TN $8,396 $11,194 33
Adams State University CO $5,627 $7,449 32
Southern University and A & M College LA $5,074 $6,630 31
McNeese State University LA $4,383 $5,701 30
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma OK $3,744 $4,866 30
University of Louisiana at Lafayette LA $4,864 $6,192 27
University of New Orleans LA $5,214 $6,578 26
Virginia Commonwealth University VA $9,517 $12,002 26
Southern University at New Orleans LA $3,906 $4,911 26
Jackson State University MS $5,050 $6,348 26


Net Price Increases, 2010-2013

Institution State 2010-11 2012-13 % Increase
University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon PR $220 $2,804 1,175
University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla PR $474 $2,304 386
Texas A & M University-Texarkana TX $1,923 $9,288 383
Colorado Mountain College CO $2,740 $9,946 263
Texas A & M International University TX $2,279 $6,344 178
South Texas College TX $587 $1,483 153
The University of Texas at El Paso TX $2,543 $6,089 139
Elizabeth City State University NC $909 $1,993 119
Oklahoma Panhandle State University OK $5,830 $11,456 97
Navajo Technical University NM $2,314 $4,418 91
College of Coastal Georgia GA $6,338 $10,585 67
Alabama A & M University AL $7,792 $12,887 65
Fayetteville State University NC $3,673 $5,914 61
California State University-Fullerton CA $4,294 $6,885 60
South Florida State College FL $3,458 $5,536 60
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona CA $6,789 $10,693 58


Schools in Puerto Rico seem to have been hit especially hard, as well as several public colleges in Texas.  One Puerto Rican university has experienced a tuition increase over 1000%, going from $220 to $2804 between 2011 and 2014.

Private universities, particularly small ones, appear to be vulnerable to dramatic price fluctuations.  Low endowments mean that any changes to campus must be funded more directly, rather than spread out over a long-term investment.  Religiously-oriented schools are also prominent on the list.

The winner of this dubious accolade? Family of Faith College in Oklahoma, where tuition went from $663 to over $16,000 between 2011 and 2014, an increase of 2317%.

The data does come with some disclaimers: in some cases, the original tuition rate of schools was exceptionally low, possibly misrepresenting the change.  And other schools who don’t make the list may have added tens of thousands of dollars to already high prices.  No matter the situation, however, higher education funding is a significant cost that has to be paid for by someone – and increasingly, that someone is the student.

The message for students remains the same: be an informed consumer.  Before agreeing to attend an institution, even if it’s your dream school, it’s smart to research past prices and compare them to current ones.  It may take some digging, but it’s important to know what you are signing on for.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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