BOSTON, OCT. 10 -- The cost of attending college in New England increased this year by more than twice the national inflation rate, according to a survey released today by the New England Board of Higher Education.

The survey, published in the board's quarterly magazine, found that 1987-88 tuition at New England schools more than doubled the 3.7 percent national inflation rate recorded between spring 1986 and spring 1987.

But some schools outpaced the inflation rate by increasing tuition by as much as 30 percent over the last two years.

The greatest rate of increase was at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, which recorded a tuition rise of 27.3 percent between 1985 and 1987. Bates College in Maine was second with a more than 22 percent tuition rise during the same period.

Also high on the list was Connecticut's Yale and Wesleyan universities, each recording a 17.5 percent tuition increase in two years.

Tuition in the region was paced by Vermont's Bennington College, the most expensive secondary education institution in the nation. It now costs almost $15,000 a year to attend.

John Hoy, president of the Higher Education Board, blamed the sharp tuition rises on colleges trying to catch up with the rest of the economy.

"During the double-digit inflationary period of the 1970s, New England colleges and universities were extremely conscientious in controlling institutional costs," he wrote recently.

The sharp tuition hikes were needed to raise faculty salaries to national standards and to revamp aging equipment and buildings to meet the demands of a knowledge-hungry economy, he said.

But Hoy said unchecked rises in tuition may put New England schools beyond the threshold of affordability.