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The costs of colleges and trade or technical schools vary widely. It can cost as little as $200 or as much as $30,000 or more per year.  Based on the College Board data a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the academic year (including room and board) is roughly $19,000 for in-state students at public schools and $33,000 for out-of state residents. A moderate budget at a private college is around $42,500.

College costs:

According to the College Board, here is a breakdown of college costs based on national averages for 2020-2021:
  • Basic tuition and fees: the amount of money that a college charges a student each year to enroll and receive instruction, plus other amounts a college requires a student to pay (such as athletic fees, social-activities fees, and health-care costs). 
    • Four-year public college was $10,560 for in-state (resident) students
    • Four-year public college was $27,020 for out-of-state (non-resident) students
    • Four-year private college was $37,650
  • Room and Board:  food and housing.  
    • Room and board at four-year public colleges was $11,620
    • The average at private colleges was $13,120
  • Books and Supplies:  course materials and fees.  

    • Books and supplies at four-year public colleges was $1,240
    • The average at private colleges was $1,240
  • Personal Expenses - consider transportation to and from home and college, laundry, clothing, cell phone and entertainment costs, which range from $2,870 to $3,400

While these figures may sound alarming, keep in mind that these are 'sticker prices' and your actual costs may be less when you factor in grants and other forms of student aid.  Most full-time students receive some type of financial aid, whether that's in the form of grants and scholarships, federal student loans, or tax credits, deductions and work study programs. 

According to the College Board, the average "net price" families are paying for the 2020-2021 academic year is approximately:

  • $19,490 at public colleges*
  • $33,200 at private colleges*

*After subtracting financial aid and education tax benefits. 

Most student aid pays for all education-related expenses, including books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses in addition to tuition plus room and board?  It's important to note, however, that federal tax credits and deductions are limited to the amount you pay in tuition and fees.

How much a college costs depends partly on whether it's a public college or a private college. If you go to a state or public college in the state where you live, you'll be charged less than a student from out of state. Some neighboring states have reciprocity agreements so that students pay less than the standard out-of-state tuition charged.  Private colleges tend to be more expensive than public colleges since they charge the same amount for in-state and out-of-state students.

It's hard to know what college costs will be by the time you're ready to go to college, but remember:

  • Some colleges cost less than other colleges.

  • Lots of financial aid is available - more aid exists now than ever before.

  • Start saving for college now.

To get an idea of how much college costs, visit https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costsYou can also look at college guidebooks in your local libraries or bookstores.  

To find the right college for you, check out https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search where you'll find breakdowns of costs at about 3,800 colleges and universities.