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U.S. College Tuition Rises 4.6%, Beating Inflation

Tuition and fees at private, nonprofit U.S. colleges and universities for the 2011-2012 academic year will rise an average of 4.6 percent, exceeding inflation, according to a survey of 429 institutions.

Tuition hikes have hovered in the mid-four percent range over the last three years, according to the Washington-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. U.S. consumer prices rose at an annual 3.6 percent in May.

An increase in financial need, employee health care, information technology and utilities contributed to rising tuition, the association said in a statement. During the decade prior to the global financial crisis that began in 2008, the average tuition increase was 6 percent.

Student aid will grow an average of 7 percent, up from a 6.8 percent increase last year, the association said. In light of the economic downturn, private colleges have aimed to increase student aid while slowing tuition increases, David L. Warren, the association’s president, said in the statement.

Published tuition and fees for the 2010-2011 academic year averaged $27,293, according to the College Board, a nonprofit research and advocacy group based in New York. After grant aid and federal tax benefits are considered, average net tuition and fees for full-time students was $11,320.

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