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Federal education leaders urge families to compare college costs

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011.U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday urged parents and students to explore the federal government’s national online tool for college costs.

The tuition figures listed in the newly revised College Affordability and Transparency Center http://collegecost.ed.gov/ are for the 2010-11 school year and the data for net costs after financial aid are for 2009-10, the most current numbers available, officials said. Duncan said families should use the website for indications about trends and financial aid averages and then go on to explore current prices, which in most cases are higher now. 

“We want families to be looking at multiple universities, not just one,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. “Please be sure you and your children are doing comparison shopping.”

The College Affordability website, in its second year, shows that many of the four-year state universities with the highest tuition last year were in Pennsylvania. State budget cuts in education funding have led to higher prices at state colleges around the country, averaging a 15% rise in tuition between 2008 and 2010 at four-year schools, the government reported. UC Berkeley and UCLA tied for 19th with Georgia College and State University in the size of percentage increases over that time, showing a 43% hike.

The private four-year school with the highest tuition was Connecticut College, $43,990, followed by Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, Vassar College and George Washington University in a range down to $42,905, according to the government data.

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-- Larry Gordon

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press

 
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