Average tuition at public four-year colleges rose 73 percent from 1999 to 2009, even as median family income fell about 7 percent. Tuition at private colleges outpaced income, too. Here’s why.

Piggy_Bank_on_Books_SmallAaron Marks graduates this spring with a business degree from a good college, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and, unlike many of his classmates, a good job. He also has $191,000 in student loan debt. Today, two-thirds of students graduate with debt, to the tune of $25,000, on average.

Keeping interest rates low on federally subsidized student loans – a challenge that has lately occupied Washington – would make only a dent in what student borrowers owe. Hence, the conversation is beginning to shift to the other side of the equation: the rising cost of college.

Among the contributing factors: state budget cuts, which prompted many public colleges to raise tuition and fees; a gradual shift of responsibility for payment from government to students and their families; and a “seller’s market” in which colleges can raise tuition without repercussions.

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Source: Amanda Paulson | The Christian Science Monitor