Local News

Students Digging Deeper Into Pockets As College Tuition Increases

Posted September 28, 2006 5:25 a.m. EDT

— A yearlong study on higher education has made one thing very clear -- rising tuition costs are making it tough to get a college education.

According to national studies, North Carolina's schools are some of the most affordable in the country. But in just five years, college costs have jumped 40 percent. In North Carolina, in-state tuition and fees range from just over $2,400 to over $32,000 a year.

Just over 2,000 students attend Meredith College, and they're shelling out roughly $20,000 a year to go there.

"It's definitely been a damper on our family and our income, how we buy certain things now," said Amber Bertrand, a junior at Meredith. "We have to watch what we buy and what we can't buy."

Tuition has been on a steady climb at Meredith. College administrators said it's costing more to attend there, but not as much as some schools.

"We would expect this next year a 4 to 6 percent increases. Our colleagues out there are doing 10 to 12 percent," said Danny Green, Meredith College's associate vice-president of enrollment.

Over the past four years, average tuition for the 16 schools in the University of North Carolina system have gone up 48 percent. While the cost of tuition continues to skyrocket three or four times the rate of inflation, college administrators call it the cost of doing business. Getting the best professors, researchers, and updated facilities all cost money.

"You have to have a wireless campus now, the nature of your laboratories costs that much more to deliver the services," said Duke University Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs John Burness.

One year of tuition and fees at UNC cost about $4,600, while a year at St. Augustine's is more than $11,000. Wake Forest's tuition and fees cost about $30,000, and Duke is the most expensive at just over $32,000 a year.

According to Duke officials, roughly 40 percent of Duke students are on some type of financial aid. More than 75 percent are at Meredith, said officials. Administrators said the number of students on financial aid has increased as the tuition has, although not as quickly.