Hot Topics in Higher Education: Tuition Policy

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National Conference for States Legislatures


Tuition at public four-year institutions has increased faster than inflation every year since 1980. Over time, these consistent increases have compounded, causing concern among students, families and legislators about college affordability. Tuition, along with general appropriations and financial aid, represent the three primary policy levers legislatures may wish to use to craft a strong higher education finance policy. It is wise to consider the three levers together, since pulling one is likely to cause ripple effects in the other two. This report is part of a series focusing on appropriations, financial aid and tuition policy. It highlights recent trends in tuition prices, some causes of tuition increases, and policy options states have considered.



Postsecondary institutions, student financial aid, higher education costs, tuition