NEW YORK -- It's crunch time for high school students looking to go to college next year, with many applications due in the coming weeks.
While the cost of college continues to rise, there is at least one positive thing to consider.
CBS New York's John Dias has some tips when applying for scholarships.
You don't need a college degree to know it's expensive, and it's only going up in price.
"Salaries and costs and inflation have risen, so the universities are charging more," said business analyst Carl Gould, president of Seven Stage Advisors.
Gould told Dias demand from foreign students is also driving up the cost of American colleges.
The nonprofit The College Board says college tuition increased less than inflation this academic school year. While inflation rose 4.5% for the first eight months, average costs of colleges rose from 2.5 to 4%.
Average increase in college prices were:
- 2.5% at public four-year colleges (in-state students)
- 3.0% at public four-year colleges (out-of-state students)
- 4.0% at private nonprofit four-year colleges
"It's more that inflation was really high, then colleges found a way to curve cost," Gould said.
He said cost of living is why Tri-State Area colleges are so expensive.
According to the finance company GoBankingRates, Connecticut has the highest average yearly cost of public colleges in the region at more than $28,000, and New Jersey is not far behind. In New York, public college averages around $24,000 a year.
- Average yearly cost of public college: $28,425
- Most expensive public college: University of Connecticut $30,484
- Most expensive private college: Wesleyan University $76,070
- Average yearly cost of public college: $28,335
- Most expensive public college: New Jersey Institute of Technology $31,574
- Most expensive private college: Stevens Institute of Technology $72,196
- Average yearly cost of public college: $24,231
- Most expensive public college: University at Buffalo and Stony Brook are tied at $26,860
- Most expensive private college: Columbia University $76,920
Across the three states, in-state students get to pay less, and Gould says the rates are actually reasonable.
"Proportionally, our Tri-State universities are not as high as they could be," he said.
The U.S. Department of Education reports more than $6 billion in scholarships are awarded to college students each year. The CEO of Bold.org told Dias it's important to know which scholarships to apply to.
"The mistake that a lot of students and families tend to make is they'll go maybe for the highest dollar amount, or the broadest scholarship, or the easiest set of applications," said Dror Liebenthal.
His website is free for students and is the country's largest independent scholarship provider, with plans to award more than $5 million in aid next year. He says students should look for specific scholarships based on factors like their state or major.
"We put a lot of effort into helping students that are on our platform get matched to scholarships where they have the highest likelihood of winning," he said.
He insists one of the best things students can do is apply early to scholarships.
Experts say another way to cut down on college costs is to go to a community or state college for the first two years, which is typically cheaper, then transfer to another school.
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