Huffpost College

As Tuition Increases, So Does Financial Aid: Report

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College may actually be comparatively cheaper now than before the recession, the Washington Post reports.

According to a new survey by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, college financial aid spending has increased by 6 percent for the 2010-2011 school year. Meanwhile, tuition has increased an average of 4.5 percent. Before the recession, tuition was rising about 6 percent per year.

Of course, the relationship between aid and tuition is not so simple. The Post breaks down the complexities:

The interaction of published tuition and student aid is complicated. At many well-endowed, highly selective public and private schools, aid is awarded solely on need. Dozens of schools have published formulas that families can use to predict what a child from their household will actually pay, based on family wealth.

Less well-endowed schools beneath the top tier of selectivity typically use some combination of need and merit aid. Merit aid is generally meted out according to how badly the college wants the student and how dearly the student wants to attend the school. Such colleges effectively offer discounted tuition to coveted students. Discount rates are running higher than ever as colleges struggle to find the right price point to fill their class.

What's your take? How has financial aid affected your college costs? Weigh in below.