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October 23, 2013—Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson released the following statement in response to the release of the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid reports.
“As always, we are grateful for the College Board’s hard work in putting together these important reports on college cost. Public universities continue to provide the greatest value to students and their families in terms of cost and quality. The data from the College Board demonstrates a commitment by public institutions to keep costs in check. Despite seeing a sharp reduction in state appropriations of 19 percent and an increase in full time enrollment of 11 percent over the past five years, public institutions have worked very hard to constrain costs so as to limit the impact that reduced state funding has on tuition prices. After adjusting for inflation, the published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges rose 0.9 percent in the past year—the lowest increase in 13 years.
“Public institutions continue to identify ways to streamline costs, but nothing can fully make up for lost government funding. A decade ago, state funding covered two-thirds of the cost to educate a student with tuition making up the other third. That dynamic has now flipped with students and their families being forced to cover two-thirds of the cost because states have dramatically cut their level of support. And it’s not just states that need to keep investing in higher education. Unless Congress acts, the federal sequester is poised to hit Pell grants and other student aid programs this coming year. Such cuts to student aid would have devastating financial consequences for students and their families.
“Despite moderating tuition increases, public universities are aware there are still barriers for lower income students and are further committing to enroll and graduate students from a range of backgrounds. Public institutions are fully focused on educating more students from low-income households and disadvantaged backgrounds to help provide them with all of the opportunities a college degree has to offer. It’s deeply troubling that only 8 percent of students from families in the lowest quartile of wealth in this country have a college degree while 83 percent of students from the top quartile have one. Too many young people who want to learn are denied their dreams and limitless opportunities because they can’t afford a college degree. Our institutions continue to identify ways to help reach these students and make a degree affordable, but they can’t do it alone. States and the federal government must recommit to providing the resources needed to make that happen. Doing so will have a profoundly positive impact on all Americans as our entire population becomes more educated.”
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