A new government website makes it easy for students and parents to compare tuition and the net cost of attending American colleges and universities.

Collegecost.ed.gov/ is provided by the U.S. Education Department and the website's sleek comparison tools allow users to create lists of the most expensive and least expensive colleges and universities in America and visit pages about each school.

"The site highlights institutions with high and low tuition and fees as well as high and low net prices (the price of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid)," according to the site. "It also shows institutions where tuition and fees and net prices are increasing at the highest rates."

Several Utah schools appeared on the government's rankings: Brigham Young University, Western Governors University, Dixie State College and LDS Business College.

BYU was listed as offering the 17th-lowest tuition among four-year, not-for-profit private colleges. Its sister schools, BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii, were listed 12th and 14th respectively.

BYU was the only school on the list that was also ranked in the U.S. News and World Report's 2011 top 100 national universities.

"Because of the generous support of our sponsor — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … BYU can offer its students a superb education at a very reasonable cost," university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. "For many of our students this means they will not have to incur any debt — or at least only a minimal amount — throughout their undergraduate years. This is especially helpful to our students, given that BYU also ranks in the top 10 in graduates who go on to earn their doctoral degrees."

BYU's 2009-10 tuition was listed at $4,290, far below the national average for private schools, which is $21,324. BYU-Idaho cost $3,580 and BYU-Hawaii $3,800.

Western Governors University, a Utah-based online university, also appeared with the BYU schools on the list, at $5,870. "We haven't raised tuition for four years and for now we don't plan on doing it this year either," said Joan Mitchell, WGU's public relations director. "The university offers bachelor's and master's degrees in teaching, business, information technology and health — we are a great value in education."

Dixie appeared on the list of four-year, not-for-profit public colleges with the lowest tuition.

"Dixie State College is one of the most affordable four-year colleges in the state of Utah," the school's website boasts. "(It's also) the second most affordable four-year college in the Western United States (U.S. News & Report 2010)."

On the list of private, two-year, not-for-profit colleges with the lowest tuition, LDS Business College was listed as having the second-lowest tuition in the country.

Utah Valley University was 21st on the list of public schools with the fastest rising net cost, which included tuition, fees, books, supplies and a weighted average for room and board and other expenses. The net price also subtracted the average amount of federal, state, local and institutional grants or scholarships. UVU's net price rose from $7,424 in 2006-07 to $10,508 in 2008-09, according to the website.

BYU-Idaho made the list of private schools with the lowest net price, again including all expenses minuses grants, at $9,571.

These rankings come amidst "the dismal job prospects for new college graduates (which) have revived debates about whether college is 'worth it,'" according to a recent New York Times blog post titled, "Once Again: Is College Worth It?" Yet, these Utah-based schools and others are striving to keep costs low, much to the satisfaction of money-strapped college students.

"I feel very blessed that I have such quality education at a low cost," BYU student Megan Conrad said. "It puts me in an advantageous position when I graduate because I will not have a substantial amount of debt like some of my peers at other schools."

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