In these turbulent times, it's good to know that some things don't change. In this case, we're talking about college tuition: It just keeps going higher.

Last year, tuition rose as much as 25% at some schools. For the upcoming academic year, some schools plan to hike prices as much as 40%.

As reported in a recent Washington Post article, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges found that all 37 states responding to a survey plan to raise tuition. Only Montana, New Mexico, and Hawaii will raise tuition by less than 5%.

Blame it on the economy, which has put a major strain on states, which have in turn cut funding for higher education. In a statement announcing tuition increases, Paul N. Courant, the University of Michigan's provost, said, "The fiscal challenge faced by the University in 2003-04 is the most difficult that we have seen in over 20 years."

Take a look at how much more expensive tuition has become over the past two years at a sampling of schools:

  School              2001-02  2003-04 Incr.Arizona State Univ  $2,508   $3,508  40%Univ. Cal.(Berkeley)$4,200   $5,668  35%Univ. of Maryland   $5,341   $6,759  27%Stanford Univ.      $24,441 $28,563  17%Univ. of Michigan    $6,935  $7,975  15%Tulane Univ.        $26,885 $29,810  11%Yale Univ.          $26,100 $28,400   9%

However, it's not all bad news. The rates on student loans are at all-time lows. And in Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a new law that guarantees students will pay the same tuition from freshman year until graduation at a state school.

What's a parent to do? If your kid is a few years from the ivory tower, save big and save often. If your student is just a year or so away from college -- or enrolled now -- understand the financial aid process and feel free to contact schools directly if tuition hikes will preclude your Einstein from attending. They might be able to find other ways to keep your business.

To learn more, visit our College Savings Center , or check out our latest book, The Motley Fool's Guide to Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs from K to Ph.D.