Higher-education costs jump

American colleges and universities will see a 5 percent increase in inflation in 2006, says a study of costs affecting higher education.

A 27 percent spike in utilities prices this year is the primary driver of the increase, says the “2005 Higher Education Price Index,” compiled by the Commonfund Institute in Wilton, Conn.

The index, similar to the Consumer Price Index, is built based on the prices of a fixed set goods and services purchased by colleges and universities in the U.S.

The 5 percent increase in inflation this year compares to 3.5 percent rise in 2005 and average annual increases of 3.8 percent from 2002 to 2005.

Utility costs in 2006 are almost triple the average for the previous four years, the index says, while prices for materials and supplies rose 8.2 in 2006, compared to 4.8 percent last year.

The index also includes prices for faculty and administrative salaries, clerical costs, service employees, fringe benefits and miscellaneous services.

The Commonfund Institute assumed management of the Higher Education Price Index from Research Associates.

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