New York (CNNMoney) - From paying for a designer dress to renting a fancy limo, teens (and their parents) are shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars this prom season.
On average, families expect to spend $1,139 on prom this year - up roughly 40% from 2011's $807 average and a slight increase from last year, according to a Visa survey.
Families in the Northeast expect to pay the most, an average of $1,528, while Midwestern families were the most frugal, at an average of $722, according to the survey of more than 1,000 parents of prom-aged teens.
With traditions like debutante balls falling out of fashion and young people getting married later in life, prom has grown in importance and people are willing to spend more on the big night, said Kit Yarrow, a consumer research psychologist.
"Prom is the new wedding," Yarrow said. "I think that every society has to have a rite of passage into adulthood for young people, and prom has become that."
The increase in prom spending is also being driven by the popularity of photo-oriented sites like Facebook and Instagram, she said. Prom is "a post-able moment" which has heightened the pressure around appearances.
While parents still foot a majority of the bill, teens pay for about 41% of the costs, Visa's survey found.
By Melanie Hicken, CNNMoney
New York (CNNMoney) - Tuition at public colleges and universities spiked to record levels last year, according to a new report.
Average tuition costs - the amount students paid in tuition and fees after state and institutional aid was taken into account - rose by 8.3% to an average of $5,189 in the 2011-12 school year, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association reported. In the previous academic year, students paid an average of $4,793.
At the same time, state and local funding for operating expenses, research and student aid fell by 9% to $5,896, the lowest level in 25 years, said association president Paul Lingenfelter.
"State support hasn't been able to keep pace with enrollment growth," he said.
Public enrollment has exploded in the past decade, increasing by more than 30%, Lingenfelter said. Today, public college students represent more than 70% of all post-secondary students.