updated 10/31/2003 4:55:03 PM ET 2003-10-31T21:55:03

The average cost of tuition and fees at the nation’s four-year colleges and universities is more than 40 percent higher now than it was 10 years ago, a new study says.

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The college board, which owns the SAT, released its annual Trends in College Pricing report Tuesday, documenting cost increases that have been particularly steep in recent years because of big cuts in state funding.

“Higher education is often the first area to be cut,” said William Troutt, the chairman of the American Council on Education and president of Rhodes College in Memphis. He was unsurprised by the findings.

Using inflation-adjusted dollars, the average cost of tuition and fees at state-supported four-years schools is now 47 percent higher than it was a decade ago, the study said. The average cost of tuition and fees at private colleges and universities, also adjusted for inflation, has grown by 42 percent over the same period.

The said tuition for in-state students at four-year public campuses jumped 14.1 percent to $4,694 this fall. However, a dip in the price of room and board — assessed separately from tuition and fees — means that students living in residence halls are actually paying $10,636, only 9.8 percent more than they did in 2002-03.

The price hikes weren’t limited to four-year state schools.

The study found that the average tuition and fees assessed by public two-year colleges went up by 13.8 percent to $1,905.

And it now costs $26,854 to attend a four-year, private school, including tuition, fees, room and board: that’s up 5.7 percent from last year.

The report said that 60 percent of undergraduates are using financial aid packages to help pay for college. While student loans comprise a large portion of the aid, over $40 billion in state and federal grants that do not have to be repaid were distributed in 2002-03.

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