Yalies are not the only ones who had to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for college this year.

The average college tuition and fees at four-year American institutions grew faster than the rate of inflation over the last year, according to data released by the College Board earlier this week. Yale’s tuition and fees grew less than the average four-year institution’s — five percent versus 5.6 and 5.7 percent for public and private institutions, respectively — while the Consumer Price Index grew by about 2 percent.

Although Yale’s total cost grew at a slower rate, the $43,050 it charges this year for tuition and fees are almost twice the $22,218 paid by the average student at a four-year private school. The median American household income was $46,326 in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

University officials said Yale’s costs are in line with its Ivy League peers’ and financial aid makes the school affordable to those who are unable to pay. No student pays the full cost of his or her education, because the University’s endowment covers many expenses, Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said.

“We look at similar institutions, like the other Ivies, and we’re seeing the same kind of increase year to year,” he said. “The real cost is higher than the tuition charged to a student.”

But some students said Yale’s financial aid packages do not fully meet students’ needs.

“I think they could be improved,” David DeAngelis ’08 said.

DeAngelis said he thinks the University should not count outside scholarships as earned income, a practice that can lead to decreases in financial aid packages.

The Undergraduate Organizing Committee has made financial aid reform a key issue in recent years, pushing for better financial aid packages and the elimination of the required student contribution.

University President Richard Levin said tuitions must rise faster than inflation because costs associated with education rise faster than inflation, he said.

“In most industries, you can get more output for the amount of labor input over time,” he said. “In education, that would mean more students per faculty member. We would have to change the character of education in order to get the kind of productivity changes that other industries can get.”

Some of the costs that increase faster than inflation are faculty and staff salaries as well as books and lab supplies, Deputy Provost Charles Long said. Salaries and benefits make up 57 percent of the University’s budget.

Those costs are not passed on to those with financial need, since the University matches tuition and fee increases with increases in financial aid packages, administrators said. Despite rising tuition, Yale’s competitiveness is not suffering, Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said.

“Yale has one of the very best financial aid programs in the country, and we’ve experienced increasing numbers of applications and increasing yield for the last several years running,” he said.

In spring 2005, Yale removed the parent contribution for students from families earning under $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.

Levin said even though Yale is more expensive than the average school, a Yale education conveys more benefits in the long run, financial or otherwise. Yale graduates will earn more over the course of their careers, he said.

Yale’s tuition lies in between those of its two chief rivals in the Ivy League. Tuition and fees totaled $42,200 at Princeton University and $43,655 at Harvard University this year.