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College tuition costs shot up again this fall, and students and their families are leaning more on the federal government to make higher education more affordable in tough economic times, according to two reports issued Thursday.
At public four-year schools, many of them ravaged by state budget cuts, average in-state tuition and fees this fall rose 7.9 percent, or $555, to $7,605, according to the College Board's "Trends in College Pricing." The average sticker price at private nonprofit colleges increased 4.5 percent, or $1,164, to $27,293.
Massive government subsidies and aid from schools helped keep in check the actual price many students pay. But experts caution that federal aid can only do so much and that even higher tuition is likely unless state appropriations rebound or colleges drastically cut costs.
"Just when Americans need college the most, many are finding it increasingly difficult to afford," said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.
When adjusted for inflation, the tuition increases this fall amount to 6.6 percent at public four-year colleges and 3.2 percent at private ones, according to the College Board.
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