How Much Does College Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

Where you attend college and what you will study are two of the biggest decision you will ever make.  These decisions could greatly impact your life and your future.  While there are many things that will impact this decision, the cost of college is most often at the forefront.  The cost of college needs to be a balance; since it is an investment in your future, spending $20,000 or $30,000 on a four-year degree is not that unreasonable.  You need a good education from a respectable school in order to launch your career in the field of your choice.  However, if you choose a career that will earn you less than$50,000 annually, choosing a school that costs $30,000 per year is probably not a good idea.  Get a general idea of what you want to do in life, and choose a college that is as well-known and respected as you can for the price you are willing to pay.

Cypress College by SodanieChea, on Flickr
Cypress College” (CC BY 2.0) by  SodanieChea

How much does college cost?

According to CollegeBoard.com, “Nearly half (47 percent) of all full-time undergraduate college students attend a four-year college that has published charges of less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees.”  Typical four-year in-state colleges will cost around $5,000 per semester for 12-16 credit hours.  This is a yearly cost of about $8,000-$10,000.  For example, the University of Toledo costs $3,650.49 per semester, a total of $7,300.98 per year.

If you are attending a state college and you’re not a resident of that state, expect to pay about $3,000-$7,000 more per year.

If you choose to attend a four-year private college, tuition will rise to between $20,000-$30,000 per year for a total four-year cost of $80,000-$120,000.  These colleges usually have much higher standards for acceptance into the college, but they also have such a high reputation that you will find it much easier to start your career.  Kiplinger has compiled a list of the best value in private colleges.

CNNMoney has a cost calculator to help you estimate the cost of four years of college.

Listed below are the average cost of college per year that students should expect to pay on an annual basis.  Your fees can greatly vary depending on the school you choose.

TypeTuition and FeesBooksRoom and BoardCommuteOtherTotal
Two-Year
Resident$2,400$1,000$0$0$0$3,400
Commuter$2,400$1,000$8,000$1,200$2,000$14,600
Four-Year Public
Resident$6,700$1,000$8,000$1,000$2,000$18,700
Commuter$6,700$1,000$8,000$1,500$2,000$19,200
Out-of-State$18,500$1,000$7,800$1,000$2,000$30,300
Four-Year Private
Resident$28,000$1,000$9,000$800$1,700$40,500
Commuter$28,000$1,000$8,000$1,300$2,000$40,300

The chart mentioned below are the fees you should expect to pay in your state on an annual basis.  This information was compiled by averaging various universities within the state.

StatePublic Two-YearPublic Four- YearPrivate Four-Year
Alabama
$2,800$4,900$13,500
Alaska
$3,500$4,300$17,000
Arizona
$1,800$4,800$22,000
Arkansas
$2,200$5,900$14,500
California
$900$5,100$29,500
Colorado
$2,600$4,900$29,000
Connecticut
$2,900$7,350$29,700
Delaware
$2,500$7,650$13,500
Florida
$2,200$3,500$23,100
Georgia
$2,450$4,100$21,700
Hawaii
$1,950$4,900$11,100
Idaho
$2,100$4,350$5,800
Illinois
$2,400$8,400$23,200
Indiana
$2,950$6,750$23,900
Iowa
$3,300$6,200$22,000
Kansas
$1,950$5,400$17,400
Kentucky
$3,450$5,900$17,600
Louisiana
1,950$3,900$23,000
Maine
$3,150$6,700$27,500
Maryland
$3,250$7,400$28,200
Massachusetts
$3,750$7,700$31,000
Michigan
$2,400$7,900$16,500
Minnesota
$4,500$7,700$25,000
Mississippi
$1,750$4,600$13,500
Missouri
$2,400$6,700$21,000
Montana
$2,800$5,400$18,000
Nebraska
$2,100$5,300$17,500
Nevada
$1,750$3,800$21,300
New Hampshire
$5,400$10,100$28,000
New Jersey
$3,300$9,400$26,400
New Mexico
$1,200$4,100$24,300
New York
$3,600$5,200$24,500
North Carolina
$1,100$4,200$21,500
North Dakota
$3,400$5,700$11,250
Ohio
$3,600$9,500$23,500
Oklahoma
$2,500$4,400$16,900
Oregon
$3,500$5,800$25,700
Pennsylvania
$4,400$9,700$26,500
Rhode Island
$2,800$7,100$27,100
South Carolina
$3,100$8,500$18,100
South Dakota
$3,700$5,200$18,100
Tennessee
$2,700$5,200$19,200
Texas
$1,800$6,200$19,600
Utah
$2,500$4,200$5,100
Vermont
$5,600$10,500$26,700
Virginia
$2,500$6,800$21,500
Washington
$2,900$5,900$24,500
West Virginia
$2,200$4,500$16,100
Wisconsin
$3,500$6,100$22,500
Wyoming$1,900$3,900$22,500

What are the extra costs?

All colleges have some type of fees to apply.  These fees range from $30 to $50, so if you choose to apply to multiple colleges, this will really add up.  Some schools will include your application fee in your tuition if you get accepted and enroll.

If you are planning to live on campus, the yearly fees for college will greatly increase.  According to Examiner, “when room and board is included, the average cost of college at a state school is $16,140 per year and $36,993 at a private university.”  Aside from living on campus, don’t forget to factor in transportation, food, laundry and entertainment.

The cost of books is an unavoidable cost.  For a full-time student (12-16 credit hours per semester), a year of books will cost between $1,000 and $1,500.  This cost will depend on the class and how many books are required.

Be sure to factor in the inflation rate.  Each and every year, there’s going to be a rather good chance that the rates are going to go up.  The average inflation rate varies from 5 to 8 percent.

How can I save money?

Websites such as FastWeb and Scholarship.com can help you find and apply for scholarships for which you are eligible.

Filling out the FAFSA, which every college applicant is required to do, will determine if you are eligible for financial aid.

College students can save a lot of money on textbooks by buying them used.  Sites such as Amazon and AbeBooks.com can help; however, make sure you shop by the ISBN and not by the title as there are many editions of each textbook and professors are usually specific about the one they use.

Consider taking the route of a community college first.  Community college credits can easily transfer over to a state college.  By going this route, you’ll be able to save during your first two years of school.


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