Metro

College costs rise fastest for those least able to afford it

The average “net price” of college — what families pay per academic year after factoring in financial aid and grants — has risen across the board in recent years. And ironically, the sharpest increase has been for students who can least afford it.

Data from the US Department of Education shows that students tend to pay a lower net price the less money their families have.

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But the most recent five years of available data, ending with the 2013-14 school year, show that the poorest students — those whose families made $30,000 a year or less — have seen the largest percentage increase in net price.

The trend has been highlighted before, including in a report in 2014 by the The Dallas Morning News, The Hechinger Report and the Education Writers Association.

That report said that financial aid experts and some college administrators have worried the trend “will further widen the gap between the nation’s rich and poor” by putting college degrees “beyond the economic reach of growing numbers of students.”

Average 'net price' at US colleges has risen fastest for low-income students
Private 4-year colleges:
Income level 2009-10 2013-14 5-year change
$30,000 or less $15,532 $17,214 11%
$30,001 to $48,000 $16,600 $18,019 9%
$48,001 to $75,000 $19,221 $20,442 6%
$75,001 to $110,000 $22,216 $23,703 7%
$110,001 or more $25,439 $27,462 8%
Public 4-year colleges:
Income level 2009-10 2013-14 5-year change
$30,000 or less $7,895 $9,592 22%
$30,001 to $48,000 $9,362 $10,806 15%
$48,001 to $75,000 $12,498 $13,805 10%
$75,001 to $110,000 $14,779 $16,535 12%
$110,001 or more $15,377 $17,497 14%
Public 2-year colleges:
Income level 2009-10 2013-14 5-year change
$30,000 or less $5,685 $6,593 16%
$30,001 to $48,000 $6,614 $7,226 9%
$48,001 to $75,000 $8,405 $9,042 8%
$75,001 to $110,000 $9,809 $10,721 9%
$110,001 or more $10,375 $11,603 12%
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education

The figures above are for full-time, first-time undergraduates who received Title IV federal student aid, including federal grants or federal student loans. The figures shown for public schools are based on in-state rates.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele
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