Why Does College Cost So Much?

September 9, 2019
Posted in Student Tips
September 9, 2019 ACS

We tend to focus quite a bit on helping you get into the college of your dreams. But once you gain admission, that’s when you begin to confront the high cost of college. Because we don’t want those bills to come as a surprise, let’s review the typical costs associated with college so that you and your family can prepare for them.

Tuition. In most cases, tuition is your most significant expense. Currently, the average full-time tuition for an undergraduate student amounts to roughly $15,000 per year at a public university, or $50,900 at a private school. Of course, financial aid and scholarships are aimed at reducing this part of the cost (and can also be used for other items on this list).

Fees. If you’re simply expecting a tuition bill to arrive shortly before your first semester, you might be surprised to learn how fees can boost the cost of college. Your first statement might include items like an orientation fee, lab fees, recreation fees, and more.

Room and board. In most cases, college students live in an on-campus dorm, or an apartment very close to their school. A dorm room and meal plan at a public university will cost an average of $10,800. That figure climbs to $12,210 at a private university. The cost of an apartment, of course, dramatically differs depending upon geographic location. But keep in mind that a college town generally has a busy and competitive housing market.

Books. Books seem to be the bane of most college students’ existence. On average, you might expect to spend $1,200 to $1,400 on books each year. However, renting or buying used books can save you a chunk of change.

Finally, if you choose a school far from home, factor in the cost of travel. If your budget is tight, be prepared to stay on campus rather than coming home for each break. Another idea is to spend those times with a friend who happens to live nearby the school.

This might all seem overwhelming, but remember that millions of college students have found a way to successfully complete a higher education. Don’t let the cost of college scare you off; start planning now, and apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible, and gradually you will see your budget begin to take shape.


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