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Tuition at state operated colleges and universities in Utah climbed significantly during the last two decades.
The tuition increases outpaced inflation, family income and financial aid growth from 1983 to 2000, indicates the latest research report released by the Utah Foundation.
Tuition at Utah's four-year universities jumped 188 percent, while inflation measured by the consumer price index rose 73 percent during the designated period.
A second measure of inflation, the higher education price index, rose 97 percent in the last two decades.
The price index measures cost increases specific to higher education.
Tuition at Utah's two-year colleges climbed at slower rate, rising 137 percent within the 17 years examined in the foundation report.
Financial aid to students kept pace with tuition increases through the 1980s, but dropped dramatically after 1992.
Costs of attending Utah's universities remain low compared to schools in other regions of the United States.
Among the state's higher educational institutions, only the University of Utah at $12,680 a year exceeds the national average of $11,329 in total costs of attendance.
However, tuition at the U of U registers lower than the national average.
According to the foundation report, the expenditures for books, supplies and school related items resulted in the total cost of attendance at the U of U to exceed the national average.
Utah's two-year colleges cost about the same as the national average, registering at approximately $2,300 per year for tuition, books and supplies.
Although tuition has risen rapidly, so has the state's funding of higher education from tax revenues. State support has grown nearly as fast as the tuition rate, rising 165 percent since 1983 to a level of $425 million in 2000.
The high rates of growth in tuition costs and state government support are due to Utah's unique demographics. Utah has a large and rapidly growing population of college-age individuals.
In Utah, 18- to 24-year-olds comprise 24 percent of the state's working age population.
Nationally, the 18- to 24-year-old age group makes up 16 percent of the working age population in the U.S.
Utah not only has a higher proportion of students needing education services, but a smaller proportion of people in the full-time labor force to pay taxes to support these services, points out the foundation's analysis.
Entitled "Setting the Price of Higher Education in Utah," the report evaluated several factors and trends in higher education finance for Utah's state colleges and universities.
The factors analyzed in the nonprofit, non-advocacy research organization report included:
How tuition, fees, living costs and higher eduction expenses compare for students in Utah and other regions of the U.S.
How tuition rates have grown in comparison to inflation, Utah family incomes and financial aid.
Reasons why tuition has increased and the rising costs faced by the state's higher education system.
State financial contributions to higher education over time.
Challenges and constraints faced by Utah policy makers as well as the fact that the state has a large college-age population compared to other states.