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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Tuition Hikes Squeezing College Students

Tuition at public colleges and universities rose by 4.8% while more than 37% of undergraduates are receiving Pell Grants.

Tuition at state-run universities increased by 4.8 percent this year, a lower increase then previous years, according to a report issued by the College Board Wednesday.

Average tuition during the 2012-13 school year rose to $8,655, up from $8,256 during the 2011-12 academic year, said the College Board's report. The report was released at the College Board's Forum 2012 by the organization's Advocacy and Policy Center.

Among the reasons for the rise in tuition is the decreasing contribution to state-run universities and colleges by state governments, said the report. Inflation-adjusted state spending per student fell by 10% for the 2011-2012 academic year, the fourth year of declining state contributions.

As tuition has risen, so has students' reliance on financial aid, said the report. In the 2011-12 academic year, nearly 9.4 million student - 37% of undergraduates - received Pell grants while 2.7 million students received Pell grants from 1980-81.

In response, schools like the University of California, Riverside, are trimminng costs to ensure tuition increases are as small as possible.

"UC Riverside is taking action to operate more efficiently," said Kris Lovekin, the director of media relations at the state-run university. Among the measures enacted by UC Riverside are cuts in hiring, faculty furlough days, and job cuts, said Lovekin, who also highlighted the university's commitment to financial aid.

"Each dollar that a student pays in tuition, one third of it goes back to financial aid programs," said Lovekin, who said that financial aid is available for students coming from households making less than $80,000 per year.

California public universities future tuitions will be significantly determined by Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to temporarily raise taxes in order to offset budget cuts for public K-12 and university education programs. Passage of Prop 30 could result in California State-system students receiving tuition reimbursements of up to $498, while Prop 30's failure could result in budget cuts of $250 million each for the California State and University of California systems.

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