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EDUCATION REPORT – College Costs in U.S. - 2003-11-05

Broadcast: November 6, 2003

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

A new report says the cost of studies at public colleges in the United States increased fourteen percent this year. This is the biggest increase in tuition in thirty years. But the study also found that the average student pays a lot less than the published costs of a college education, because of grants. And it points out that American students received a record amount of financial aid last year.

Students do not have to repay grants, unlike financial aid in the form of loans. About half of American college students receive grants. This means that education costs differ from student to student.

The report is from the College Board. This is a non-profit membership group of schools and other educational organizations. One of its best-known jobs is to administer college entrance tests.

The College Board says tuition at two-year public colleges rose at the same rate as four-year schools.

The College Board says the increases were mainly caused by cuts in state spending on education. But a congressman says colleges have increased their prices in both good and bad economic times. John Boehner [pronounced bay-ner] of Ohio is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. He says colleges do not want to talk about their decisions to spend money to build things like rock-climbing walls.

The College Board collected information from four-thousand colleges and universities. It says the average total charge for students who live at a public college in their state is ten-thousand-six-hundred dollars. While tuition rose fourteen percent this year, housing and other costs increased at a lower rate.

At a private college, total charges are almost twenty-seven-thousand dollars. That is an increase of about six percent over last year.

David Ward is president of the American Council on Education. His group represents colleges and universities. Mister Ward called the College Board findings bad news. But he says percentage increases in tuition do not tell the whole story. He says there was good news about grants and other student aid.

The College Board says financial aid for the last school year reached one-hundred-five-thousand-million dollars. That amount was up sharply from the year before.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is Steve Ember.