SPRINGFIELD — The cost of attending a four-year university is rising faster for public institutions than private ones, say private college representatives.
Despite rising prices for both public and private universities, the gap separating them is shrinking, according to a report issued Thursday by the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.
The report says that the average net price of tuition and fees for a public, four-year university rose to $14,771 in fiscal year 2012, up from $12,180 in fiscal year 2008. During the same time, the cost of attending a private university increased to $23,222, up from $22,001 four years earlier.
While the average price for public universities has increased by 21 percent, the report said that, thanks to increased grant aid and federal tax benefits, private institutions have raised prices for their 231,000 students by 5 percent.
"Through both need-based aid and institutional aid, they're able to essentially lower that net cost of attendance where it's much more affordable," said the group's president, David Tretter. "We're all concerned about the reach of the average citizen."
But Tretter doesn't anticipate that the gap will turn over.
"It's hard to crystal ball it, but I think the only way that could happen is if the state got out of the business of funding higher education," he said.
He added that he didn't think the state should get out of higher education funding and that the state has a "legitimate role" in supporting education.
"It's a good situation for Illinois that we have this large set of institutions and universities," he said. "When you look at who's paying for what, it's a pretty good deal for Illinois."
The report was released the same week the University of Illinois announced it was looking to boost tuition by 1.7 percent.