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Stealth fees driving up the cost of college

UCLA students hold up tuition hike protest signs in 2011.
UCLA students hold up tuition hike protest signs in 2011.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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To get a higher education, you don't need an accounting degree. But having one might be helpful to find out what you're actually getting charged.

A new report by ProPublica shows that several schools around the country say they're keeping down tuition costs. But at the same time, more and more fees are popping up on bills --- and those might not be part of the official price tag that prospective students look at.

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship of the UMass system, mandatory fees are more than six times the cost of in-state tuition.

For California students, that cost can also add up.

Within the 23-campus California State University system, six schools have adopted some form of what's called a "student success fee" since the beginning of 2011. The annual fees, which different campuses have been using to cover a broad array of things from technology to mentoring programs to athletics, range from as little as $162 to as much as $430 a year depending on the school.

ProPublica reporter Marian Wang authored the piece, "Course Load: the growing burden of college fees," and she explains how these stealth costs are driving up the price of higher education.