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October 24, 2006
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College Board Confirms Need for Sharper Focus on Accountability for Spikes in College Costs

With Student Aid Reaching Record Levels, House Republicans Have Taken

Steps to Address Underlying Causes for Cost Crisis, While Democrats Play Politics


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The College Board today released its annual analysis on the cost of college and student financial aid, underscoring the need for colleges and universities to take a more active stance to address the explosion in the price of a college education.  While tuition and fees at four-year public and private schools, as well as two-year public schools, continues on a steady pace upward, student financial aid continues to reach unprecedented levels as well – nearly doubling over the past decade and reaching almost $135 billion this year.  Such trends, House Education Committee leaders said, indicate the need for more accountability among institutions themselves for annual spikes in college costs.


“Once again, we are finding that no matter how much student aid rises from one year to the next, an equally dramatic spike in college costs follows,” said House Education Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA).  “Neither low- and middle-income families nor American taxpayers can afford to see this trend continue without demanding some answers.  This year, House Republicans took critical steps toward demanding those answers, and our message was clear.  We’re committed to providing students the resources they need to get a college education, but at the same time, we’re aiming a spotlight at these increases in college costs so we can get to the bottom of why they’re occurring – and how we can slow them.”


McKeon noted that low- and middle-income families struggling to keep pace with this intensifying trend do not have access to a standard measurement to compare tuition increases with other factors, leaving many without a means to compare college cost increases with other financial factors in their lives.  House Republicans moved earlier this year to establish a way to better track these spikes in college costs, through the creation of a College Affordability Index.


The index – which was included in the House-passed College Access & Opportunity Act (H.R. 609) and opposed by House Democrats – would publicly identify federally-funded institutions that repeatedly engage in excessive tuition hikes, giving consumers an index they can use to track tuition increases and make more informed decisions in their college spending.  Institutions with the largest spike in costs would be asked to provide information to the public about the causes of tuition increases, as well as strategies that would be used to help hold down tuition in the future.


According to the College Board, for the current academic year:

  • Average total tuition and fees increased by 6.3 percent at four-year public colleges; 4.1 percent at two-year public colleges; and 5.9 percent at four-year private colleges;

  • Total student aid for undergraduate and graduate students jumped to $134.8 billion, an increase of eight percent; and

  • Total student aid in inflation-adjusted dollars nearly doubled over the past decade, with Pell Grant aid increasing by 80 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars during the same time period.


“House Republicans have paid down the troubling shortfall in the Pell Grant program and provided consistently strong funding for Pell Grants,” said Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL), Chairman of the 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommittee.  “Moreover, the reforms we’ve pursued will make a difference for even more students seeking to attend college by taking on the greatest barrier to college access: consistent spikes in college costs.”


Just this year alone, Keller noted, Congress and the President have enacted legislation to:


  • Reduce excessive federal subsidies for the student loan industry;

  • Maintain current law written by Republicans and Democrats in 2002 and 2003 to establish a low, fixed-rate for student loans, which will provide millions of students greater financial certainty in the years to come;

  • Increase loan limits for students so they can borrow more during their initial – and most critical – years in college;

  • Provide additional grant money so more high-achieving, low- and middle-income high school students can attend college; and

  • Establish a new scholarship program for high-achieving college students studying math, science, and critical foreign languages. 


“Unfortunately, Democrats continue to play politics on this vital issue and refuse to join us in our efforts to empower parents and students with information about college costs,” concluded McKeon.  “The College Board analysis is just the latest proof that simply throwing more money at the college cost crisis is not a viable solution – for students or for taxpayers.  Addressing the underlying causes that drive up college tuition while continuing our commitment to student aid is the right approach and one I hope our Democrat colleagues will join us in taking.”


For more information on Republican efforts to expand college access for low- and middle-income families, visit the Education & the Workforce Committee website at


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