Since 1981, the cost of a college education has increased more than inflation, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor statistics. This means that it can be difficult determining how much a college education will cost. In addition to the increasing prices of a college education, the price can vary greatly depending on the college you or your child will be attending. Thankfully, there are many tools that can help you calculate the amount of money you need to save for a college education.
A college education, even if you attend a community college, can be expensive, especially if you have not saved for your education. According to The College Board, during the 2014-2015 academic year, the average cost of an undergraduate at an in-state, public college was $9,139. This amount includes tuition and the fees associated with a college education. This was an increase of 2.9 percent. If you will be paying for room and board, the price goes up to $18.943, which is an increase of 3 percent from the 2013-2014 academic year. Finally, if the college is a private, non-profit college the tuition costs increase to $31,231. With room and board, this amount increases to $42,419. Finally, attending an out of state four-year college costs $22,958 for tuition with room and board increasing this amount to $32,762. The cheapest option is a two-year public community college. The tuition costs for 2014-2015 academic year for a community college was $3,347.
Determining Financial Aid
The tuition costs can seem staggering to most people; however, most students do not pay the sticker price due to financial aid. One of the best ways to determine the amount of financial aid you or your child will receive is the Caster located on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website. There are numerous types of financial aid available. Federal student aid includes student loans, federal work-study programs and the federal Pell grant. In addition to these federal programs, there are many other scholarships available to a student. In fact, The College Board reports that approximately two-thirds of all college students receive some type of financial aid. Finally, you should not rely solely on student loans to pay for your education as it means you will be faced with a lot of debt upon graduation.
Comparing the Price of Colleges
Each college or university is required to have a Net Price Calculator on its website to help you determine how much it will cost for you to attend the college or university. Rather than just listing all of the college expenses you will be responsible for, the calculator tells you the average amount that a student pays out of pocket for their education. The Net Price Calculator does this by determining the approximate amount of financial aid and scholarships you are likely to receive. This financial aid helps reduce tuition, room and board, books, supplies, fees and other common expenses of a college education at the college or university.
Understanding College Costs
The amount of money you will spend on your education will depend on your current lifestyle. If you will be commuting, you can save money on room and board; however, you will miss out on the on-campus experience that most college students enjoy. Additionally, many colleges require students to live on campus and purchase meal plans as part of the college experience. Although all schools are required to give the average cost of attendance, the actual cost of attendance can be more or less. In addition to the cost of attending college, there are other miscellaneous expenses that you should consider, including clothing, cell phone bills and travel expenses for returning home on school breaks. A part-time job is a great way to give you spending money and reduce the amount of money you need to save for college.