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The Cost of College

It doesn’t take a college degree to know that college is expensive! Here’s how to get a ballpark estimate of the total cost.

According to recent studies, the average cost of a 4-year degree at a public university is approximately $100,000! This estimate includes tuition, books, room and board, insurance, transportation and other fees. The “sticker shock” that comes with this price tag is free of charge.

Here is some good news. While colleges provide the full “sticker price” to attend their school, the true cost of college will vary from student to student and may be offset by grants or scholarships.

The Breakdown of College Costs

Here is an estimate of annual college expenses for a public 4-year university. These estimates are provided by

  • Tuition & fees: $11,000

    Tuition: Generally higher for private colleges, or if you attend a public university as an out-of-state student.
    Fees: For labs, technology, and activities.

  • Room and board: $12,000

    The cost of campus-based housing and meal plans.

  • Books & supplies: $1,500

    Books: Textbooks and other required reading materials.
    Supplies: Technology devices (computer, printer, peripherals), paper and related supplies.

  • Personal expenses: $2,200

    Cell phone, internet, clothes, laundry, entertainment, spending money and other costs of daily life.

  • Transportation: $1,200

    The cost to travel to and from college. If you will take a vehicle, include parking, fuel, and maintenance costs.

  • Insurance: varies

    Insurance: A renters insurance policy will protect a student’s property from theft or destruction and auto insurance is required for a student to drive any vehicle, even if they don’t bring one to school. Check with your insurer for details and state requirements.
    Health Insurance: Many schools provide student coverage, but ask your own health insurer about how your current policy covers students. Military kids enrolled full-time in college can stay on a parent’s TRICARE plan until their 23rd birthday or graduation – whichever comes first.

  • Memberships: varies

    Fraternity, sorority or other club dues, membership fees, and related activity expenses.

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College costs by school

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