This summer, a number of states and colleges have slashed grant funding and raised tuition prices, giving students and their families little time to prepare for the hikes that will go into effect soon. According to Smart Money, Texas and New Hampshire announced tuition increases from 6 – 10% at some public universities. California just proposed to continue to drive tuition up, from an 8% increase just a few months ago to 12%. New Hampshire, Illinois and Georgia have all scaled down their state grant programs to students.
In an interview with Smart Money, Katharine Gricevich, director of government relations at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, stated that while the Illinois grant cuts are unlikely to affect students in their first semester at school this year, they will likely see a difference second semester.
So what does this mean for students? You might just be paying more for school than you originally thought.
Before you start to panic, realize that rapidly rising education costs have been a long-term trend that could not be sustained. Now, with state and federal government funding cuts due in part to our crippling recession, bloated college budgets may be forced to shrink. That’s probably good for the long term, but there is no doubt it is causing disruption and pain to current college plans.
At this point, there’s little parents and students can do to cushion the shortfall. They can contact the college to find out if they’re raising tuition further, or ask the college’s financial aid office to provide more free aid if the state lowers their grant money, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, which tracks financial aid issues. For more radical results, a student could take classes at a local community college for a year or a semester. Those courses are typically much cheaper and can often be transferred for college credit. Meanwhile, for students and families who are starting the process of shopping for colleges or saving for tuition, the cautionary tale seems clear: for the foreseeable future, public college tuition prices and financial aid promises may be unreliable.