NH Higher Education Grants

What you'll pay to go to college in your home state may differ significantly from the national average

Students walk the grounds of the University of Connecticut on Oct. 23, 2013, in Storrs, Conn. Public colleges in Connecticut tended to have higher-than-average per student funding over the last year.

Most students remain in their home states to take advantage of lower tuition at public colleges and universities, but those costs vary drastically from state to state.

A new report from the Urban Institute provides a snapshot of the higher education ecosystem, and shows that because public higher education is managed and partially funded by states, national averages hide considerable differences in what students actually pay across the country.

"As policymakers and others consider these issues from a national perspective, they should review state-level patterns in tuition, funding, and enrollment rather than just national averages, which obscure important differences across states, " wrote the primary authors of the report, Sandy Baum, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and Martha Johnson, a research assistant at the institute.

Students walk the grounds of University of Connecticut on Oct. 23, 2013, in Storrs, Conn.[READ: 2014 Graduates Had Highest Student Loan Debt Ever]

The report found that in the 2014-2015 academic year, tuition and fees for in-state students averaged $9, 139 at public four-year colleges and universities, but there was significant variation between states. In 12 states, for example, the published price for state residents was less than $7, 000, while it was above $11, 000 in eight states.

In Wyoming, where median income closely hews to the national average, public four-year colleges and universities charged $4, 646. But in New Hampshire, where median income for families is upward of $90, 000, they charged $14, 712.

Some potential reasons for the variations in pricing include differences in things like state funding per student, state costs of living and available public resources.

In the 2014-2015 school year, for example, state funding per student averaged $7, 730, but ranged anywhere from $3, 660 in New Hampshire to $18, 550 in Alaska.

In wealthy states like Connecticut and New Jersey, lower-than-average funding relative to personal income tended to yield higher-than-average per-student funding in the 2014-2015 school year.

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