The True Costs of College

For many families, the actual costs of postsecondary education can be a bit confusing. Tuition and fees. Part-time or full-time student. In state or out. Commuter or residential student. Public or private institution. Despite ongoing efforts to provide clear databases for families and students to understand the actual costs – particularly before factoring in loans and family share – it can be a challenging math problem to wrestle.

Last month, CNN reported on the “sticker costs” for college, or what it will cost a student for tuition, fees, room, and board. On average, CNN researchers calculated the following costs for one average year of college:

  • Two-year community college                                    $11,580
  • For-profit college (excluding room and board)    $16,000
  • In-state public college                                                $20,090
  • Out-of-state public college                                        $35,370
  • Private college                                                             $45,370


Via, CNN also offers a calculator to help students see how the student loans they need to take out to pursue postsecondary education will ultimately affect their budgets.

We often hear that college is the most important investment an individual can make in his or her lifetime. Such a decision should be an informed one– informed by student interests and passions, job opportunities, and costs. The information offered by CNN and others on cost is an important tool in both the application and decision making process.

Please send comments and feedback here.