Data Check: Ontario tuition fee increases outstrip the United States

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It’s often assumed that Ontario’s tuition fees are a bargain compared to those in the United States. But tuition fees are rising faster in Ontario, and the percentage of university revenue made up of student fees is higher in the province than in American public institutions.
 
Data from the United States indicate that inflation-adjusted tuition and required fees for “in-state” undergraduate students at public four-year universities rose by almost seven per cent between 2010 and 2012. In Ontario, the comparable increase was nine per cent. Since 2005, when Ontario tuition was last frozen, tuition for full-time domestic students in Ontario rose by 29 per cent – five percentage points more than in the US.
 
During that time, of course, US states reduced the amount of support they provided to postsecondary institutions not just on a relative per-student basis, but in absolute terms as well. It is therefore no surprise that the latest Condition of Education publication from the US National Center for Education Statistics should report that student tuition and fees represent a larger share of universities’ income than previously.
 
No reduction in total provincial support for universities has occurred in Ontario. But if we compare the relative share of public universities’ total revenue (including research funding, and excluding additions to endowments and income from ancillary enterprises) coming from students (net of scholarships), we find that the student share in the US rose from 18 to 22 per cent between 2005-06 and 2008-09. It has since fallen to 19 per cent for 2010-11. In Ontario, it continues steadily upward, from 25 per cent in 2005-06 to 28 per cent in 2010-11 to 29 per cent in 2011-12.
 
Sources:
Council of Finance Officers, Universities of Ontario, Financial Report of Ontario Universities
National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education; Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2005 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2004-05; Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in 2012-13; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2011-12; and 12-Month Enrollment: 2011-12: First Look (Preliminary Data)
Statistics Canada, University tuition fees, 2012/2013

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