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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 2016-17:
  • 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 $9,650 for in-state (resident) students
    • Four-year public college was $24,930 for out-of-state (non-resident) students
    • Four-year private college was $33,480
  • Room and Board:  food and housing.  
    • Room and board at four-year public colleges was $10,440
    • The average at private colleges was $11,890
  • Books and Supplies:  course materials and fees.  

    • Books and supplies at four-year public colleges was $1,250
    • The average at private colleges was $1,230
  • Transportation - include travel in the budget for you and your student to travel to and from home and college.
    • Transportation at four-year colleges was $1,160
    • The average at private colleges was $1,070
  • Personal Expenses - consider laundry, telephone or cell phone bills, which range from $1,650 to $2,110

While these figures may sound alarming, it's important to note that grants and other forms of student aid have a significant impact on your net costs of college.  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. 

Did you know that 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-costs or 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.