It will cost more for New Jersey students to attend college this year. Tuition is up three-percent for full-time undergrads.

On average, it will cost $12,000 in tuition and fees to attend a state public college this fall, or about $400 more than last year.

“It’s the challenge between the issue of catching up with state underfunding and making sure you don’t raise tuition so much that you drive away students” said Paul Shelly, New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.

“Each school will be different, some went up two-percent like William Patterson, others went up more.”

Even with a downturn in the economy, it still is an increase, when both parents and students are having a tough time paying for higher education.

“It is hundreds of dollars more, and something that our board members pay very close attention to, and the good news is that its the smallest increase we’ve seen in a decade.”

Last year, the tuition increase was closer to four-percent.

Shelly says public colleges still tend to cost far less than private universities. “Students will save some money if they go to a public college in the state.”

But he cautions about the concern of New Jersey students leaving the state for cheaper out-of-state alternatives.

“Competition is always something we keep an eye on, and there are some places out of state that may charge less for tuition but more for room and board, so we need to be aware that students are looking elsewhere. We still have high demand here, but we can’t get overconfident.”