Recently President Obama received a lot of attention for effectively warning colleges to keep costs under control.Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about college costs. Many people confuse cost, posted tuition, and net tuition. . The cost is the full amount spent educating a student, regardless of who pays it. The posted tuition is what is listed on the college web page, but many students do not pay this amount. The net tution is what a student actually pays.
This graph is from the Delta Project it shows, for the Mid Atlantic region, the average full cost per full time equivalent student, what part is paid by the student, what part is paid by someone else, and how these have been changing. Clearly colleges have been containing costs; the total amount spent has increased very little. What has changed is the part that is paid for by the student.