Public colleges and universities have long been a boon to parents. By principally receiving their money from the state, these institutions have traditionally been able to subsidize their tuition, meaning a comparable education for a fraction of the cost of many private schools.
However, even these schools are not immune to the effects of the recession. As times become tougher and many states slash their education budgets, public universities have had to shift where they receive their funding from. A recent article in The New York Times reported,
“The burden on students is likely to keep growing. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 30 states face shortfalls of at least 10 percent of their budgets next year. And given the difficulties of cutting costs for Medicaid or K-12 schools, which get the biggest chunk of state budgets, appropriations for higher education are likely to shrivel further, leaving public universities ever more dependent on tuition money.”
Perhaps hardest hit is the state of California, which has raised public tuition 30% over the last two years and is proposing massive cuts in state aid. Out-of-state tuition of UC schools is already over $50,000, rivaling private colleges.
The key for students and parents applying to schools is not to assume that a public college will be cheaper, especially if you are applying out-of-state. Explore all funding possibilities like scholarships, grants, prizes and subsidized loans and with enough due diligence you might save yourself from an unexpectedly high bill.