Average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for the 2004-05 year climbed 10.5 percent from last year's levels, to $5,132, while fees at four-year private schools rose 6 percent, to $20,082, the College Board reported.

The trend marked the third year in a row that private colleges posted smaller percentage increases in their tuition and fees than public colleges. At two-year public schools, average tuition and fees jumped 8.7 percent over last year's level, to $2,076. And while the College Board said that the tuition increases are smaller than last year's increases, it noted that they are still high by historical standards.

When total charges, including room and board, are considered, the percentage increases over time have been somewhat smaller, especially among public schools. At four-year public institutions, total charges rose 7.8 percent to an average of $11,354, while total charges at private institutions increased 5.6 percent to an average of $27,516.

Over the last decade, average tuition and fees in constant 2004 dollars rose 51 percent at public four-year colleges and universities, 36 percent at private four-year colleges, and 26 percent at two-year public colleges. When total charges, including room and board, tuition, and fees, are considered, the percentage increases were somewhat smaller. In the public four-year sector, the real increase over the decade was 36 percent, while total charges at private four-year colleges and universities were 32 percent higher in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2004-05 than they were a decade earlier.

The College Board said that while all forms of student aid are rapidly increasing, students are relying more heavily on private loans, which outpaced grant aid for the second year in a row. The College Board said that the volume of federal education loans rose by 13 percent, while borrowing through alternative private loan programs increased by about 43 percent between 2002-03 and 2003-04, after adjusting for inflation. Over the past decade, the board said that education loan volume has increased by 137 percent.

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