I read an article today listing the 5 states with the greatest increases in college tuition. It stated that the average cost of tuition (plus the assorted battery of fees) for in-state students was $9,428 dollars last year (2011-2012). If you were an out-of-state student your bill would have topped $22,000. Note that this is simply the tuition cost - room and board will increase that figure even more.
Tuition wasn't always that bad though. The 2011-2012 figures are an increase of 16.8% from the year prior, and a whopping 101.7% increase from 5 years ago.
I won't go into why this is happening, as no one really knows for sure, but the implications are staggering. For parents who are hoping to help their students with the tuition cost, it puts an excessive burden on them. They will need to start saving far earlier than they may have originally anticipated, and there is a definite possibility they won't be able to help out as much as anticipated.
For students without that type of parental support, there will be increased competition for scholarships, but the likely outcome is bigger student loans being taken out. The student debt situation has been discussed quite frequently, but with these tuition increases it seems unlikely to resolve itself in the near future.
So where does that leave students? Many are choosing to start their post-secondary education at a 2-year, or community college in an attempt to offset some tuition costs, and then transferring to a 4-year institution to complete their degrees. Additionally, more students are maintaining at least a part time job throughout their studies in order to reduce their debt load.
College has always been a big investment, but now it's a huge one. So if you're in high school and thinking about college, make sure you know where you want to go, and what you would like to study. Make it count!