IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2012: Finances

Obtaining a higher education is expensive. Today's students are especially aware of this fact for a number of reasons. However, USAO believes the cost of a higher education provides value, is reasonable, and can still be within a student's reach.

In the above figure, changes in tuition and fees over time are shown. Two issues are evident: costs of attending USAO are about half of what it would cost to attend a similar university elsewhere. This is fairly consistent over time. The second issue is the rate of change over time. Over the four years shown in this report, USAO’s tuition and fees have increased by about 5%. This contrasts favorably to the comparison group’s more than 20% increase over the same time period.

This next chart compares the net price of attendance. This figure is considerably different than the tuition and fees figures from the previous graph. It includes other costs of attendance like room and board (rent and groceries for students living off campus). It also includes the projected costs of books, transportation and other expenses associated with attending university. In addition to these other costs, the net price calculation also includes the value of any grants and scholarships student might receive to make college more affordable. Once all the figures are taken into account (pluses and minuses), the estimate of what the typical student ends up paying (figure excludes student loans) can be determined.

In addition, this chart reveals an interesting perspective of USAO. While the net price of attendance at similar universities has increased about 11% over this three year period, the same figure for USAO has actually decreased by about the same percentage.

This final graph provides more detail about exactly what kinds of aid students receive to help them meet the costs of higher education. A quick glance reveals pretty big differences between USAO and the comparison group. Overall, it verifies:

  • A bigger fraction of USAO students receive some sort of grant aid
  • A smaller fraction of USAO students use loans to pay for classes
  • A larger fraction of USAO student receive institutional grants