Choosing a College: Weigh the Costs

Choosing a College: Weigh the Costs
Choosing a College: Weigh the Costs

It's no secret that the cost of college keeps going in one direction…up. We put the numbers together to show what you might be facing when that tuition bill comes due. 

Public vs. private

You already know that a private college or university will cost more than a public, four-year in-state institution. But do you know how much more? About 2.2 times more, with tuition, fees, room and board for four years at a private college costing on average $158,072.

A 2012-2013 study by the College Board, a national non-profit association of schools, colleges, and educational organizations, found the average cost for tuition, fees, room and board to attend a four-year private college or university is $39,518 per year, while a four-year public institution averaged $17,860 per year for an in-state resident.

In state vs. out of state

Costs to attend public colleges or universities in other states are also usually higher than for comparable institutions located in your state. At four-year institutions, the College Board found that going out of state costs an average of $12,501 more per year.

It's important to note that published charges do not reflect the prices most students pay. About two-thirds of full-time students pay without the assistance of grant aid, and some of these students receive federal tax credits and deductions to help cover expenses.

Tuition is just the tip of the iceberg

But that's not all! Tuition, fees, room and board are just part of the costs that will be incurred. As you begin looking for schools and weighing costs, also remember to look at:

  • Computer and related supplies
  • Books and related supplies
  • Dorm room furnishings
  • Travel expenses to and from home
  • Entertainment, laundry and other spending money needs

Source: The College Board's “College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid”

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