- According to a recent analysis of Department of Education data on college costs across the country, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Indiana are the most expensive states for public higher education, with an average of more than $380 per credit hour.
- New Mexico, California, Wyoming, North Carolina and Florida ranked as the best in the country charging between $112 and $160 per credit hour.
- The rankings, compiled by StudentLoanHero.com, underscore recent federal data, which reveals that college costs increased by an average of 5% between 2013 and 2014.
College affordability has as much to do with the brand and mission of the institution, the amount of public funding it receives and the kinds of amenities provided on each campus, as it does the actual cost of providing an education. And despite a correlation between negative enrollment trends and negative affordability marks, it is difficult to draw a causal relationship between the two. However, colleges can use the data to make their case to federal and state lawmakers about the increasing need for investment in the academic enterprise.
As the demand for increased access to higher education grows, college leaders should be able to detail to state and federal lawmakers how investments in student tuition support can help ease the burden of current obligations to public pension and retirement systems, which have greatly disrupted public higher education funding. As manufacturing and other industries return to form in states across the nation, skilled workers with transferable skills will be necessary to stabilize economy, and this begins with thriving higher educational systems in the public sector.