Kris Alingod

Students and parents found out the most expensive and most affordable universities across the nation on Thursday when the Education Department for the first time released data on the costs of a college education. Universities that have hiked their tuition the most must justify the increases in a report to the agency.

Topping the list of public four-year colleges with the highest tuition is Pennsylvania State University, which charged a tuition of $14, 416. The University of Pittsburgh is in second place, followed by the University of Vermont and St. Mary's College of Maryland.

New Jersey Institute of Technology rounds out the top five, followed by four branches of Pennsylvania State University, each requiring $12,750 per student. In the list as the 10th most expensive school is the University of New Hampshire.

Public four-year institutions with the lowest tuition were Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, Dine College in Arizona, College of Southern Nevada, Broward College in Florida, Oklahoma State University, Seattle Community College and the University of the District of Columbia.

Among private for-profit institutions, Sanford-Brown College in Virginia is the most expensive with a tuition of $45,628. Two Arizona colleges, Le Cordon Bleu and Collins, are in second and third places, respectively, followed by Platt College in two locations in California.

The Art Institute of California has the sixth highest tuition, at $32,342. Other institutions in the list include the Art Institute of Michigan, Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire, the Art Institute of Dallas, the School of Visual Arts in New York and Research College of Nursing in Missouri.

The most affordable private for-profits include the American Public University System in West Virginia, the University of Phoenix in its Arizona locations as well as in Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma campuses.

On the list of private not-for-profit colleges with the highest tuition, Bates College in Maine holds the first spot with $51,300, followed by Connecticut College, Middlebury College in Vermont, Union College in New York and Colby College, also in Maine. Expectedly, Sarah Lawrence and Vassar qualify in the top 10.

Also in the list are George Washington University in D.C., Tulane University in Louisiana, Tufts in Massachusetts, Oberlin in Ohio, and Franklin and Marshall in Pennsylvania.

Institutions that have the largest tuition hikes beginning 2007 will have to submit a report to the Education Department by identifying areas in their budget with higher costs and measures they are taking to reduce such costs.

Those in the top 5 percent of the lists for two successive years must provide the agency with another report detailing progress on the cost-cutting initiatives.

On the list of public four-year institutions with the largest tuition increases is Georgia State University, which raised tuition by 46 percent to $7,498.

Three campuses of the California State University increased tuition as much as 46 percent. Alabama State University, Arizona State University and Florida State University also made it to the list.

The data includes information on tuition paid by students receiving grant and scholarship aid. The University of Texas Health Science at San Antonio topped the list on the highest net prices, which is tuition minus aid, at $24,192.

Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Ohio State University likewise had high net prices.

The lists are part of a two-year initiative by the Education Department to increase college access and graduation rates. The Obama administration has set an ambitious goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 to spur innovation and to compete with the labor force of other nations.

About 70 percent of high school graduates continue into postsecondary studies but less than half complete their course to get a degree or certification within six years.

The tuition lists, which will be released annually beginning this year, was generated by the National Center for Education Statistics through a system in which colleges and universities receiving federal grants are required to participate. Universities had the chance to review the lists, which cover costs for 2007-2008 and 2009-2010, during the 2010-2011 data collection.


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