(McClatchy Newspapers) The cost of a college education continues to increase faster than inflation; a phenomenon that’s roiling family budgets and spurring calls for action on Capitol Hill. But with a little digging, parents and students can find cost-cutting deals and programs that make the paper chase a lot more affordable.

While public colleges and universities are hiking tuition to make up for dramatic reductions to state higher-education funding, private colleges – which usually receive no state funding – have greater latitude to cut costs. That’s one reason that average annual tuition increases at public colleges have been more than twice as large as those at private colleges over the last decade, according to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.

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