According to a report by the College Board, the tuition for US colleges and universities has increased by 4.8%, exceeding the rate of inflation. While this is the smallest percentage increase seen in the last 12 years, the nation-wide average of $8,655 in tuition demonstrates that while the rate of increase may be slowing, it is, as College Board analyst Sandy Baum says, an “improvement in a bad story.”

While this is fifth year in a row in which the average tuition for public institutions has been greater than that of private, nonprofit colleges and universities, which raised their tution an average of 4.2% for the 2012-2013 school year. However, this is still an improvement over the 2011-2012 school year, which saw public institutions raising tuition at twice the amount of their public, nonprofit competitors.

The lackluster economy coupled with slashes in state funding have left many public schools scrambling for ways to raise revenue. To further the problem, federal loans and grants have not increaased significantly in recent years, thus leading to a greater burden placed on the students to cover the costs of attendance and rely solely on private student loans with higher interest rates than those seen in grant programs.

“We are seeing a shift in the cost of college to students and families, which they have to make up with student borrowing,” said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of The Institute for College Access & Success, in an interview with Bloomberg Magazine.

It’s an issue that has dogged the campaign trail as well, with President Obama emphasizing the need for increased student financial aid and more lenient payment options in order to boost college attendance. Governor Mitt Romney, however, has been wary to support an increase in federal loan programs.

As we reported earlier this month, this increase in tuition is widely blamed by analysts as the cause of the record drop in college enrollment seen in the 2011-2012 school, which was the first time in 15 years that enrollment had decreased rather than increased.

In the 2011-2012 school year, 57% of students from public higher education institutions graduated in debt, which averaged at $23,800, while public, nonprofit schools saw over two-thirds of their graduates leaving in debt, averaging at $29,900.