(Reuters) - The average tuition and fees charged by public four-year universities in the United States rose 2.9 percent for the 2013-14 school year, the smallest annual increase in more than three decades, according to a study published on Wednesday.
But recent declines in grant aid mean many students face larger increases in what they must pay for their higher education, the non-profit College Board said in its 30th annual Trends in College Pricing report.
Tuition for in-state students at public four-year schools averaged $8,893 in 2013-14, up from $8,646 in 2012-13, the report said. Those attending private colleges saw average tuition and fees rise by 3.8 percent to $30,094 from $28,989.
"This does not mean that college is suddenly more affordable, but it does mean that the rapid growth of recent years did not represent a 'new normal' for annual price increases," the report said.
The report found that federal and state grant aid for students was no longer growing fast enough to keep net prices from increasing.
The average net price - what students actually pay at public four-year schools - rose to about $3,120 from $1,940 between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the report said.
Public tuitions varied widely across states. New Hampshire and Vermont had the highest published in-state four-year tuition and fees for the current school year, while Wyoming and Alaska had the lowest.
Tuition and fees at a four-year college in New Hampshire averaged $14,665 compared to $4,404 in Wyoming, the report said.
Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Meredith Mazzilli