More than half of the students attending public colleges and universities in the U.S. have paid more than $50,000 in tuition, according to a report released Wednesday by the Higher Education Research Institute.
That’s the highest figure for a single year since the institute began collecting the data in 2001.
The figures represent the average tuition at all four-year public colleges in the country, and include financial aid and loan assistance, scholarships and other forms of aid.
Some public colleges have not released their tuition data, which the institute says is due to financial restrictions.
The report also found that about half of students who attended public colleges during the 2017-18 school year had debt of at least $50.
The remaining students were mostly enrolled in community college.
“The trend is clear: Tuition-for-income has increased by at least a quarter since the 2008-09 recession, as tuition has grown,” said the report’s co-author, Elizabeth Hartley, an associate professor of economics at the University of Washington.
The median annual tuition at public colleges is $23,700 for men and $27,900 for women.
It is expected to climb to $29,700 in 2019-20.
The data comes as President Donald Trump has tried to curb the federal student loan program by scaling back the amount borrowers can borrow and limiting repayment plans.
He also is expected in coming months to take steps to cut off federal aid for some of the most academically-struggling students, including by cutting Pell Grants and Pell grants for the most vulnerable students.
The institute has been tracking student debt for nearly 40 years.
“If you have a $50 billion student loan, you could probably write a book on how much money is left over,” Hartley said.
In the study, students who were enrolled in four- or five-year colleges paid $1,947 per year on average in tuition and fees.
That includes an average $1.26 per dollar in federal aid per year for each student.
Students who attended community colleges and colleges in rural areas also paid more.
Students attending public universities paid about $1 per year more on average than students attending private institutions.
The total amount of federal aid and other aid for students attending all public institutions was about $18,000 per student, or about $14,400 per year.
The average cost of a bachelor’s degree in the United States was $27.65, according a report published in September from the Higher Learning Commission.