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Inflation slows for U.S. colleges

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Driven by lower prices for utilities and supplies, inflation of goods and services used by colleges and universities in the U.S. fell by more than half in the year ended June 30, 2009, a new report estimates.

Overall inflation is estimated to be 2.3 percent for fiscal 2009, down from five percent in 2008, says the Higher Education Price Index, an inflation index developed by the Commonfund Institute.

The index, which is similar to the Consumer Price Index, measures the change in prices for a group of goods and services that have the greatest impact on costs for colleges and universities.

Utilities costs dropped 15 percent in 2009, and prices for supplies and materials increased by only 0.9 percent, results that helped dampen overall inflation.

Administrative salaries saw the largest price increase of 5.4 percent, and were the only segment of the index to have a larger price increase this year than last.

Faculty salaries, which represent the largest factor in university costs, grew 3.4 percent, down from growth of 4.1 percent in fiscal 2008.

Colleges and universities in New England saw overall inflation of 3.4 percent, higher than any other region in the U.S., while the East South Central and South Atlantic regions logged the lowest rate of two percent.

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