Late-Breaking Tuition Hikes

By this time of year, pretty much everyone who’s going to college in the fall knows where. They’ve made their college decisions, sent in their deposits, and even started getting information about classes and roommates.

They’ve also, of course, received information about financial aid. It was that information that helped them decide where to go to school. But that financial aid stuff turns out to be a little bit of a moving target. Because tuition costs continue to go up, even during the year.

According to an article by Annamaria Andriotis at SmartMoney:

Many college students and their parents are about to get a surprise that could derail years of careful financial planning: last-minute tuition increases and cuts to financial aid packages promised just a few short months ago.

As states have finalized their budgets in recent weeks and months, cuts to public college funding have started to trickle down to parents and students. Since March, at least 19 states have cut money for public colleges. Some states, including Illinois and Georgia, are also slashing grants awarded to students just a few months ago. Still more families won’t find out about changes to tuition and financial aid packages until the end of the summer or even after the semester begins — what experts say is the longest delay ever.

And there’s not much parents can do about these developments. If public universities get less money from their states, they just have less money, and they’re going to pass that problem on to students and families.

Students can request new financial aid packages but the schools are under no obligation to honor the predictions they made about financial aid back when students were admitted. According to the article, the “financial aid letters students received listed an estimated grant amount.” It wasn’t a promise.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer