College costs on Long Island rising faster than nationally

The campus of Stony Brook University University. As The campus of Stony Brook University University. As for public four-year colleges, Stony Brook University saw the steepest rise in tuition and fees at 6.4 percent -- from $7,514 in 2012-13 to $7,994 in 2013-14. (Oct. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Tuition at most of Long Island's public and private colleges rose higher in the last year than the national averages for comparable institutions in a pricing survey released Wednesday by the College Board.

Nationally, between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, private, nonprofit four-year colleges saw a 3.8 percent rise; public four-year colleges saw a 2.9 percent rise and public two-year colleges saw a 3.5 percent rise, according to the College Board's 30th annual "Trends in College Pricing" report. The Manhattan-based nonprofit also sponsors the SAT, the widely used college admissions test, and other higher-education assessments.

The increases were based on the published tuition and mandatory fees for the academic years, sometimes called a college's "sticker price," as opposed to the "net price," the discounted cost after financial aid and scholarships are considered.

The increases at five Long Island private colleges exceeded the national average for private four-year institutions: Adelphi University in Garden City, Hofstra University in Hempstead, Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury and Dowling College in Oakdale.

"There is very careful attention paid to financial aid," said Lauren Mounty, vice president of enrollment management and student success at Adelphi. Mounty said 99.7 percent of Adelphi students receive some form of financial aid.

The average aid package in 2012-13 was more than $19,000 to offset the $29,320 in published tuition and mandatory fees. This year's aid figures were not yet available. "Where students and families are seeing that gap, we are offering more institutional aid," she added.

Two private colleges, LIU Post in Brookville and St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, had tuition and fee increases that were below the national average, with 3.7 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

As for the public four-year colleges, Stony Brook University saw the steepest rise in tuition and fees at 6.4 percent -- from $7,514 in 2012-13 to $7,994 in 2013-14. Tuition and fees at Farmingdale State College and the College at Old Westbury rose 4.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.

Reductions in state funding have made public schools much more reliant on tuition and fees, said Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State University. For example, state funding to Farmingdale in 2007-08 was $3,766 per full-time student. In 2012-13, it was $2,102 per full-time student, Keen said.

Yet Farmingdale's enrollment is up 4.8 percent in the past year to 8,271 students, due to the school's affordability and degree programs tied directly to the job market, Keen said.

In July 2011, New York lawmakers passed legislation that caps tuition increases at SUNY and CUNY schools at $300 yearly. The plan, called SUNY 2020, ends in 2016.

The sticker price at Nassau Community College rose 6.2 percent, from $4,150 in 2012-13 to $4,408 in 2013-14 -- well above the 3.5 national average increase for public two-year colleges. Suffolk County Community College saw a 3.2 percent increase, from $4,700 to $4,850.

NCC has yet to recover from state and county cuts, officials said. Before this year, they said, the tuition was flat.

About 40 percent of NCC's students receive some form of state or federal financial aid, said Sandra Friedman, associate vice president for student financial affairs.

The federal Pell grants, for students in the lowest income bracket, have increased. The maximum Pell benefit received was $5,555 last year, compared with $5,645 this year.

The college saw an enrollment decline of less than 1 percent, she said.

"The only area for revenue growth is an increase in enrollment or an increase in tuition," Friedman said.

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