Home > Resources > Campus Life > College Costs

College Costs

When you’re conducting your college search, you will notice the outrageous numbers associated with higher education. The cost of attending college is huge, and goes beyond tuition. With the average cost of public colleges at $20,000 a year and the average cost of private colleges at $50,000 a year, families are left wondering what they’re paying for, and how to pay for it.

ADVERTISEMENT

We’ve broken down what to expect when it comes to college costs. Use our college calculators to help plan for these expenses.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition will be the largest college expense, and it will increase each year. Student fees, such as technology fees, athletic fees, and student services fees are included in your tuition statement. These fees are mandatory, even if a student does not use these services. Tuition and fees have been rising at an average of 6% per year. While private colleges have higher tuition rates, their rates increase less quickly than state colleges, which are at the mercy of state budgets.

Room and Board

The cost of room and board varies based on the school you attend, and housing options. Single rooms and on-campus apartmentsare more expensive than triple rooms in older dorms. Colleges often place restrictions on where freshmen students live. However, if you lobby for health reasons such as allergies, there is often flexibility in campus housing.

Books and Supplies

With individual book prices well over $100, textbook costs add up quickly. Depending on your major you could be paying upwards of $500 per book. It’s important then to know there are other options available, such as buying used books or renting books. Also check if the textbook is available in your school library. Explore all alternatives before paying full price for any book.

College Living Expenses

A teenager living at home and using an after-school job for fun money does not realize how much it costs to maintain the standard of living they are accustomed to. Even parents footing the bills can be surprised at how quickly college costs add up. Many of these miscellaneous expenses can be covered with a campus job, but 10-12 hours a week will not be enough to cover surprise situations. Therefore, establish an emergency fund for extra security.

ADVERTISEMENT

Latest College & Financial Aid News

More Schools Adopting Test-Optional Merit Aid

March 2, 2021

by Izzy Hall

Back in September, a few colleges who had already adopted a test-optional policy for the current admissions cycle announced that they would be awarding merit scholarships without the need for applicants to submit test scores. Since then, more and more colleges and universities have quietly adopted test-optional merit aid policies to complement their currently test-optional admissions. [...]

Avoid Student Debt at Colleges with No Student Loans

February 25, 2021

by Izzy Hall

Here at Scholarships.com, we connect students with scholarships that can help alleviate the amount of student loans they need to take out to pay for college. But there are colleges out there that offer students such generous financial aid packages that they need to take out very little in loans if at all. These “no student loans” colleges replace student loans in financial aid packages with additional scholarships and grants to help fund a student’s tuition. Students accepted into these schools will pay much less than the cost of tuition and thus will not be as burdened with student debt. [...]

Test-Optional Policies Drive Increase in College Applications

February 23, 2021

by Izzy Hall

Well-known and selective colleges such as the University of Virginia, Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley are seeing a spike in college applications due to their adoption of test-optional admissions for the 2021 admissions cycle. These record increases have led some schools to announce an extension of test-optional admissions into future years. [...]

Last Reviewed: March 2021