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Are Out-of-Control Tuition Increases Slowing Down?

In-state tuition at four-year public colleges and universities increased by only 2.9 percent for this year, on average, according to the College Board. That's the smallest increase since 1975, and a departure from the recent trend of skyrocketing tuition fees.

college money 

(Photo Credit: Tax Credits/Flickr)

The change is due to increased state funding for public universities, according to Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for the American Public and Land-grant Universities. Lieberson tells Yahoo Finance that tuition increases in the past decade-plus were due to state governments cutting tax-supported funding for education.

"It's not back to where it was before, but at least it's not going in the wrong direction," he said. "And hopefully, this trend will continue."

Real wages have decreased by 6.7 since 2006, as college tuition and fees continue to climb. In 2010, student loan debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time in our nation's history.

As a result, students are increasingly focused on picking schools that will give them a good return on their investment.

"In the last few years, there's been a fairly strong push to have colleges report to students when they pick a major what the labor market performance has been," says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, in an interview with The New York Times. "Do graduates get a job in their field, earn enough money to pay their loans?"

However, even if prospective students choose schools and degree programs with their future earnings in mind, lower fees are good news.

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