Thursday, March 5, 2015

FYI: The Price

We know that tuition is a sensitive issue currently at UC, given the conflict with the governor and legislature over the Regents' tuition/budget plan.  We also know that UC emphasizes regularly that something like half of students (undergrads) pay nothing because of various aid they receive. The "nothing," however, refers to strictly-defined tuition and not to other costs of attending the university.

Yours truly happened across a report today in Inside Higher Ed dealing with online ed which in turn referred to a study of that subject based on data from "IPEDS" (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), an official federal government source. The IPEDS online database allows a visitor to select an institution and obtain data on enrollments, costs, SAT scores, etc. Among the variables is one called "net price" defined as follows:

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 defines institutional net price as "the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid." In IPEDS, average institutional net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state for public institutions), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses. Cost of attendance data are collected in the Institutional Characteristics (IC) component of IPEDS, and financial aid data are collected in the Student Financial Aid (SFA) component of IPEDS.

In short, the net price is the sticker price of tuition plus other costs of attending college minus aid received.  So what was the net price for UCLA?  The latest IPEDS data are for 2012-13 and can be seen below.  [Click on the image to enlarge.]

The average cost for the three years shown was around $14,000/year, a figure that rises with income.  IPEDS gives the total unsubsidized cost (sticker tuition plus other costs of attendance) for an in-state student for 2013-14 (the year after the data on the chart above) as around $32,000.

By way of contrast, if you do the same search for USC, the sticker tuition plus other costs of attendance comes out to be around $62,000.  The net price is around $30,000.

You can look up institutions in the IPEDS database at

No comments: