Recently Stanford’s announced tuition hike made headlines: a 7% increase in tuition would bring 2023-2024 costs to over $82,000 for tuition, fees, room and board. This follows a 4% rise in the previous academic year and an average annual increase of 3.5% over the past 10 years.

Less attention is being paid to Nacubo’s announcement that, headline tuition rates aside, net tuition and fee revenue– what students and their families actually pay– decreased at private colleges by over 5% last year. In fact, the average tuition discount rate– the rate at which colleges reduce tuition from list price, on average– for first-time, first-year students was over 56% last year. That means that for every $1,000 of tuition included in list price, less than $440 actually got paid. And despite headline news about college costs climbing, the amount of money families pay for college is actually declining.

What does this mean for you? It means that you can find colleges that will discount your tuition through scholarships and grants. What does this not mean? It does not mean that every college will reduce its tuition by 56% for every student.

According to the study, over 90% of first-time first-year students received institutional scholarship or grant aid, covering an average of 62.1% of tuition and fees. Among all undergraduates, 82% received institutional scholarships or grants, covering 57.6% of list price tuition and fees.

The study also showed that more selective colleges had lower discount rates, with the median institutional discount for first-time students at selective or highly selective school at just 46.8%, compared with 58.7% overall.

The Nacubo study collects data from 341 private nonprofit colleges and universities.