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College Cost

How Much Does College Cost?

low costCommunity Colleges: $4,000-$30,000+ average costState Colleges for Residents: $4,000-$16,000+high costPrivate Colleges: $25,000-$40,000+
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Tuition is just one of many college expenses. In order to award financial aid and scholarships, each school predicts its "cost of attendance[1] " for a typical student attending for a full academic year. The COA is generally based on estimates of tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses.

Typical costs:

  • For public community colleges with two-year programs, tuition and fees can cost $1,000-$12,000 or more a year for state residents and $4,000-$30,000 or more for out-of-state students.
  • Full-time annual undergraduate tuition and fees at a four-year public college or university can cost $4,000-$16,000 or more for state residents and $10,000-$35,000 or more for out-of-state students, depending on the school, the location and the program of study. For example, 2013-2014 tuition and fees at public universities in Texas[2] are $4,446-$11,806 for residents and $9,714-$33,128 for non-residents, with an average of $7,625 for residents and $18,251 for non-residents. For the Oregon University System[3] 2013-2014 tuition for state residents is $6,856-$9,310 and for out-of-state students it is $15,720-$23,670. At the University of Cincinnati[4] , full-time annual undergraduate tuition is $5,890-$10,784 for Ohio residents and $14,516-$25,816 for out-of-state students.
  • The estimated COA for public colleges and universities can be $10,000-$30,000 or more for state residents and $15,000-$55,000 or more for out-of-state students, depending on the school, living arrangements and the local cost of living. For example, at Edison State College[5] in southwest Florida, the COA is $16,245 for residents and $28,864 for out-of-state students. In Oklahoma public colleges and universities[6] the average COA is $11,163-$16,588 for residents and $17,916-$28,414 for non-residents. The average undergraduate student budget in the Oregon University System[7] is $21,766 for residents and $35,888 for out-of-state students.
  • At private four-year colleges and universities, annual undergraduate tuition and fees can cost $25,000-$45,000 or more. For example, undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year are $27,890 at Wilmington College[8] in Ohio; $38,891 Harvard[9] ; $44,000 at Yale[10] ; and $42,690 at Stanford[11] .
  • The estimated COA for private colleges and universities can be $50,000-$70,000 or more. For example, the total estimated COA for undergraduate students for the 2013-2014 school year is $60,460 at Brown University[12] in Rhode Island; $59,950-$65,150 at Harvard[13] ; $60,900 at Yale[14] ; and $60,749 at Stanford[15] .
  • Many schools provide an online net price[16] calculator, allowing students and their parents to enter basic information and get a rough estimate of the total amount they might be responsible for paying (through loans or savings) after typical grant and scholarship aid. For example, net price calculators are available for the City University of New York[17] , the University of Michigan[18] and Harvard[19] .
Related articles: Community College, SAT, SAT Prep, ACT Test, ACT Prep, AP Test

Additional costs:
  • For students attending a college or university far from home, travel can add a few hundred to several thousand dollars to the total annual cost, depending on distance, mode of transportation and the number of trips made.
  • A free application for federal student aid[20] is available online, and the US Department of Education provides an overview of federal financial aid programs[21] .
  • Students with top test scores and grades may be eligible for extensive financial assistance at top colleges, according to the New York Times[22] . Each school's financial aid office will have detailed information about available state, local and private assistance, including loans, grants and scholarships.
  • A less-prestigious school might offer a top student merit-based grants and scholarships that provide a much more extensive financial assistance package than an elite campus, making the less-prestigious school a better choice, according to the New York Times[23] .
  • Although college students traditionally graduate after four years, many find it can take five years to complete certain programs or if it budget cuts make it difficult to sign up for classes required by a specific major.
Shopping for college:
  • Narrow down the possibilities by making a list of requirements. Follow up with an on-campus visit. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation lists factors to consider when choosing a college[24] .
  • The National Center for Education Statistics provides an online college navigator[25] to locate potential schools by types of degrees offered, campus setting, size of enrollment and other factors.
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