How’s Billy’s 529-plan coming? More gloomy news for parents is good news for financial advisors: Tuition continues to rise at an inflation-topping rate, according to the annual survey by the non-profit organization College Board.

Released yesterday, the survey of college costs found that tuition and fees at 4-year public universities (for in-state students) rose 6.6 percent to $6,185 per year in 2007. The full cost of one year at one of these schools is $13,589, a 5.9 percent increase from last year. Note: The cheapest four-year public university is Northern New Mexico College ($1,030 for in-state tuition, $2,206 for out of state).

At four-year private colleges, tuition and fees rose 6.3 percent to $23,712. However, that number hardly reflects reality for a lot of parents whose children are bound for small liberal arts colleges—where the total bill for one year rings in at over $40,000. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, there are 121 schools with tuition and fee costs above $30,000 per year, including the nation’s elite: Harvard ($34,998 tuition and fees), Princeton ($33,000 tuition and fees) and Yale ($34,530).

But there’s always financial aid and grants from the federal government to soften the blow, right? According to College Board, 75 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of financial aid. A total of $97 billion in aid was provided this year, the two largest sources were federal loans (40 percent), and grants from the institutions themselves (21 percent). However, for the fourth year in a row, the average Pell Grant—the Federal government’s needs-based loan program—failed to match inflation, doling out an average of $2,494 this year, according to the survey. Many say it’s probably best to assume (and plan) that your clients will foot most of the bill on their own. (Click here to read more on this issue.)