It’s not surprising that college these days can be fairly expensive. Educational costs are rising, particularly as universities strive to remain competitive. Fortunately, with scholarships, grants, and loan options, college is perhaps more affordable than ever. But what is the final cost of those four years? Though you may have a general idea of tuition amounts and the living expenses you’ll be responsible for, how much does college really cost?
The Basics: Tuition, Fees, Room & Board
In a recent College Board survey, reports showed that an average budget for an in-state public college was just over $23,000 per year. At a private college, a moderate budget amounted to approximately $46,000. These estimates include all of the basic, upfront items like tuition, fees, room & board, books, supplies, and other miscellaneous costs. Tuition and fees alone might be roughly ½ to ⅓ of that overall estimated budget and will vary greatly depending on your university and, at public colleges, your status as an in-state or out-of-state student. Fees are typically included within the tuition rate, and help offset the cost of student services such as library access, athletic facilities, and on-campus transportation.
Room & board comprises your housing and dining options. This is a cost which can change dramatically based on many factors. Will you live in an on-campus dorm? An off-campus apartment? Will you have a meal plan and eat entirely at your school’s dining hall? Or will you cook the majority of your meals in your residence? These elements will determine whether you need to consider extra costs up front (such as signing up for a meal plan).
Books & Supplies
First-year students and their parents are often shocked by the cost of books and supplies when they begin their college education. If you’re in a science or mathematics major, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars each semester for your books. Other majors, such as fine arts, may have fewer books, but have hefty costs for supplies. It’s important to prepare yourself for these costs when heading to college for the first time.
When estimating your cost of attendance, colleges typically include expenses that you won’t find on your bill, such as transportation, personal items, and clothing. Because these estimates will vary from student to student, it’s important to know your own budget for certain expenses. A student whose parents live far away from the university will probably incur larger transportation expenses when visiting home during breaks than a student whose parents live in the next town. Such miscellaneous expenses could amount to several thousand dollars per academic year.
Paying for College
Despite what may seem high costs, there are many ways of financing your college education. If you’re fortunate enough to receive scholarships or grants, this is money you do not have to repay. This will drop your costs significantly. Taking out federal or private loans is also an option, which a vast majority of parents and students choose to take advantage of. Remember, however, that all loans will need to be repaid, and these amounts gather interest. If you take out a substantial loan, you may end up paying a great deal more money than the original amount of the loan itself over the length of your repayment period.
No matter what, you should not let costs dissuade you from the incomparable benefit of receiving a university education. For more information on affording college, please contact us directly at College Planning ABC.