The Washington Post

The price of college is rising faster for public schools than private ones


President Obama speaks at Henninger High School in Syracuse, N.Y. about his plan to make college more affordable. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Over the last decade, the price of a four-year college education has risen faster for public schools than private ones in every region of the country.

The disparity is strongest in the West where the cost of public schools is rising at a rate more than six times faster than the cost of private schools, according to data from the nonprofit College Board. Break it down by state and Arizona was home to the largest hikes in public-school tuition and fees, which have skyrocketed 70 percent in just five years.

Tuition and fees for public four-year colleges rose the most in the West

Despite being in the middle of the pack today, the West saw tuition and fees for a four-year public-school education rise by 86 percent over the past decade—more than in any other region. At the same time, the price of private nonprofit colleges there rose just 14 percent, less than any other region. The cost, including room and board, of a public, four-year education in the West is now just over $20,000, a roughly $4,000 hike from five years ago.

Arizona saw the largest public-college price hikes among the states

In Arizona, the cost of a four-year education at a public school rose 70 percent over the past five years, more than seven times the rate of inflation over the same period. This school year, Arizona appropriated $3,424 per full-time student, less than all but two other states.

Alaska spends the most per public-college student

Alaska spends $17,253 per public-college student, more than any other state. New Hampshire spends the least—$2,482.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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