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How Much Does College Cost (A Realistic Estimate)

How Much Does College Cost (A Realistic Estimate) Infographic  

If you’ve got a high school senior who will don a cap and gown come spring, you might be wondering how much college costs over the course of four years. We took a look at tuition trends across the nation to give you a better picture.

Keep in mind that the cost of tuition and living expenses vary significantly depending on the type of school and/or the area.

Factoring in student aid

When analyzing actual student expense, we must look at net price, which is the cost after aid. The average full-time four-year college student attending a public in-state university, for example, receives approximately $5,500 in grant aid, federal tax credits and deductions. That covers about half of the published tuition fees for attending higher education. Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, the increase in average financial aid covered only about $300 (15%) of the $2,000 increase in published tuition and fees for full-time in-state students at public four-year colleges/universities.

The vast majority of students have financial need that is not met by their aid awards.

Net tuition, fees, room and board

Now let’s take a look at average out-of-pocket expenses and aid across various sectors. The following figures represent average prices for the 2019-20 school year.

Students attending a two-year college paid an average of $8,600 out of pocket in addition to books, supplies, and extra living expenses.

Students attending and living at a public four-year institution paid an average of $15,400 out of pocket in addition to books, supplies, and other living expenses.

Students attending and living at a private nonprofit four-year institution paid an average of $27,400 out of pocket in addition to books, supplies, and other living expenses.

How much will tuition, fees, room and board increase over time?

Trends show that the average published cost (before aid) of tuition, fees, and room and board remains rather steady, with a less than 2 percent increase per year across all sectors, after adjusting for inflation. Unfortunately, the amount of grant aid and tax benefits is decreasing, so students will pay more out of pocket each year. Plan yearly for a possible 2.8 percent increase in net price at a public two-year college, a 3.2 percent increase at a public four-year institution and a 2.4 percent increase at a private nonprofit four-year college or university.  

What much do college books and supplies actually cost?

The supplies and books a student will need depend on choice of major and many other factors. However, students should budget $1,200 to $1,500 per year. Buying used if possible can save $20 to $30 per textbook, and online textbooks or textbook shares offer other potential cost-saving opportunities for students.

 

In the long term, the costs of higher education do pay off; workers with a college degree make about $20,000 more per year (on average) than those who have no college education. Ultimately, a college education is an investment in the future of your child and your community. If you’re wondering how to cover this investment, talk with a Farm Bureau financial advisor about your options. 

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