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.

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.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Colleges Aggressively Fighting Binge Drinking by Banning Fraternities, Sororities

November 14, 2017

by Susan Dutca

Colleges nationwide have stepped-up and implemented indefinite bans on fraternity and sorority activities in hopes of "battling a culture of alcohol abuse." Some student's parents, however, stated that such restrictions "ruined my so-and-so's cultural life." [...]

Thanksgiving College Scholarships for Community Service

November 13, 2017

by Susan Dutca

'Tis the season to be thankful, and Scholarships.com is thankful for its wonderful community of hardworking and dedicated students. As a token of thanks, we've put together a list of scholarships for the most giving, charitable students. Whether you give back through community service or are a part of a social action project, these scholarships award your time and effort by helping you pay for college. For even more giving scholarships, click here. [...]

"OK to Be White" Signs a "Sign of the Times"?

November 7, 2017

by Susan Dutca

"It's okay to be white" signs were scattered on college campuses across the country, as well as in Canada over the past week. Reportedly, the signs were first suggested on an online chat forum called 4chan, calling on people to place posters in their area on Halloween night. At Harvard Law School, at least 20 handmade stickers with the message "It's ok to be white" were posted on light poles and electrical boxes. Harvard Law's Dean of Students Marcia Sells condemned the posters, stating the posters and stickers are "intended to divide us from one another" and that "HLS will not let that happen here." The Department of Public Works removed the stickers shortly thereafter. Even after they had been removed, the message continued to circulate via social media through hashtags and videos, gaining both condemnation and support. [...]

Last Reviewed: November 2017