After a bruising tuition increase of almost 30 percent over the past three years for the University of Maryland system, spokesperson Paul Stackpole said this year's average increase will be less than 6 percent.
Tuition at public colleges and universities is directly affected by how much money the state government puts toward education.
At Frostburg State University, a public institution, in-state tuition and fees for the 2005-06 academic year will be around $12,700, said Angela Hovatter, director of financial aid. Out-of-state students pay more than double. With tuition, room and board an in-state student can expect to pay an average of $19,000 with no financial aid.
She said out of the total 4,840 students at Frostburg, about 75 percent receive some form of financial aid.
At the University System of Maryland in Hagerstown, the price of tuition depends on the program. The University of Maryland-Baltimore nursing school, University of Maryland-University College and Frostburg offer classes at the downtown location.
Each student is expected to pay the same amount of tuition as those taking classes at the home campus of the schools. Full-time, in-state tuition for the UMB nursing program is $3,253 per semester. Tuition at UMUC for the fall 2005 semester is $230 per credit hour for in-state, undergraduate students and $353 for in-state, graduate students.
Financial aid packages help students pay for their education but differ according to need. Aid can take the form of state and federal grants, federal loans, academic scholarships or work- study programs.
At Hagerstown Community College, funding for the Pell Grant, a federal grant for the neediest students, increased by $300,000 last year, said Carolyn Cox, director of financial aid. She said that with an increase in student enrollment, more financial aid is being awarded.
Cox said there was about a 3 percent increase in tuition at HCC last year. In-county tuition per credit hour is $89. A full-time, in-county student usually pays around $3,000 per year for tuition and fees, a small price when compared to some of the area's other schools.
At Hood College, tuition, fees, room and board total $28,800 per year. Shunk said when financial aid is calculated, the average family ends up paying $11,500. He said endowments allow private institutions to give more aid.
At Wilson College for Women, a private institution in Chambersburg, Pa., tuition for the coming academic year is $19,570. With room and board, the total annual cost is $27,660, according to a fact sheet from the college.
In Pennsylvania, state-funded grants have been increased to accommodate the rising costs of college.
At Shippensburg (Pa.) University, Peter D'Annibale, director of financial aid, was awaiting a decision from the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education on how much tuition would be for the coming year.
He said he thinks a 2 percent increase will be decided on by the board, which D'Annibale said would be remarkably low.
Last year's tuition at Shippensburg, a public university, was $2,405 per semester for an in-state student and $6,013 per semester for an out-of-state student.
"As the costs of education increase due to costs-of-living expenses, books and supplies and tuition, the grants aren't really keeping pace," said D'Annibale. Last year's estimated total cost for an in-state student, including room and board, was $11,260. An out-of-state student could expect to pay $18,526.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency approved an additional $35 million for the state grant this summer and $7.5 million annually over the next three years. The newly funded grant will take effect during the 2006-07 academic year.
Shepherd University, a West Virginia public institution, saw its tuition jump more than 9 percent from the last academic year, from $3,654 to $4,026 per semester for in-state students. Last year, the university awarded more than $18 million in financial aid to nearly 75 percent percent of its student population. Full-time, in-state students can expect to pay a total of $13,968 if living in a residence hall. The total for an out-of-state student will be $19,204.