The College Board's report didn't analyze the costs faced by part-time students, who make up 39 percent of the nation's 19 million college students. There is typically less aid for part-time students.
[Check out this Paying for College guide.]
Finally, while all people have to pay basic living costs whether they attend college or not, colleges have been raising dorm and cafeteria prices at least 2 percent faster than inflation annually over the last decade, the College Board found. As a result, the total sticker price of tuition, fees, living on campus, eating at the cafeteria, buying books, and extras like travel at a public university averaged $20,339 this year, up $951 from last year. The sticker price for all the costs of a year at a private college averaged $40,476 this year, up $1,448 from 2009.
The outlook for both net and sticker college prices is worrisome, college officials say. Although President Obama has called for further improvements in federal financial aid and the continuation of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, approval of costly items is likely to run into political opposition. The AOTC is currently slated to sunset at the end of this year
[Read about how to take advantage of college tax credits.]
If financial aid starts to lag behind annual tuition increases, "next year's 'net' will probably have a bit of spring to it," worries James Boyle, president of the College Parents of America. In fact, he adds, it may be, "more like the 'trampoline' price."
Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of Best Colleges.