It’s what passes for good news on college costs these days: Private colleges and universities increased tuition 3.9 percent this fall, a rate well above overall inflation but the smallest increase in at least four decades, and substantially lower than prices have been rising at public universities.
The figures released Thursday by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities highlight some of the complexities within an overall trend of rising college costs.
The list price at private colleges remains substantially higher than at publics — $29,230 this fall compared to a bit over $8,000 last year at public institutions (neither figure includes room and board).
But private colleges, which enroll about a quarter of four-year college students, typically also award more financial aid. The latest NAICU survey of 445 private colleges calculates they disbursed 6.2 percent more aid this fall than a year ago, following increases at least as large each of the previous three years.