College Costs Rising. Well, Mostly

College costs, we all know, just keep increasing. The average private college now costs $27,293 a year in tuition alone. College prices increase at about double the rate of inflation.

Oddly, however, it seems that college costs might actually be falling for America’s rich people. According to an article by Sara Murray in the Wall Street Journal:

Overall, families spent less on college for the 2010-2011 school year and grants and scholarships accounted for an increased share of the costs…. The proportion of families using grants also rose, jumping to 46 percent in 2011 from 30 percent in 2010. That’s partly because of an expansion of the Pell Grant program. Most of the rise came from middle-income families earning between $35,000 and $100,000. Grant usage increased 19 percentage points to 49 percent. Among those families earning $100,000 or more, the share using grants more than doubled to 26 percent from 12 percent a year earlier. The share of low-income households (earning less than $35,000) using grants was mostly flat.

Families, on average, paid less for college this year. Costs fell 9 percent to $21,889. The biggest shift came from high-income families, which paid 18 percent less for college this year. Middle-class families also cut their spending, whereas low-income families paid more. The average cost of college for low-income households rose more than 14 percent to $19,888.

A lot of this change in college pricing for the rich comes from where they send their children to college. While they were receiving more in grants this year, they were also simply attending cheaper schools. The report noted a shift in college choices among American families. Many now look to begin postsecondary education in community colleges.

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