From High School to College

How Much Will College Cost?

The College Board ( estimates that the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. But what does into these costs?

Tuition and fees do vary by major. For example science courses will include additional lab fees. Some other common fees are library, student government, health insurance and athletics. And then there are meal plans which can add a significant cost to each semester’s bill. In addition there are out of pocket costs for books, clothes, transportation and other personal expenses. The other cost, which is often overlooked, is the income that you will forego while enrolled in college for four years. A job paying $13.00 an hour equates to $108,160 of gross income over four years excluding any benefits that may be included as part of your compensation. Understanding the full cost that will be incurred over a four year period should be part of you decision making process.

This means that the cost of college will be between $200,000 to $400,000 in today’s dollars depending on the school and program you choose. How do you get the best return on your investment?

First, you want to lower the cost up front through scholarships and grants. You should estimate how much you can earn each summer or if necessary through work study programs. Loans may help you afford the college of your choice, but keep in mind that you need to pay to repay these including any interest that has accrued. Add up the costs and subtract potential earnings, scholarships and grants and then you will have a good idea of the investment you will be making.

Next you should consider post graduate employment opportunities for your major and the income you can expect to earn. A recent study from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce notes that a major in early childhood education pays $3.4 million less over a career than a major in petroleum engineering (Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers). That is not to say we do not need early childhood teachers, because we do! Rather, if you are considering majoring in early childhood education you need to identify a college that will provide the required education at a cost commensurate with your future earnings. Finally you want to think about your career path which given the speed of technological changes you need to continually assess. What are the leading employers for graduates who hold the degree you aspire to hold? What career paths are open to employees in these companies?

A college degree will mean higher income. The more education you have the more you will earn. Making the right decisions on how much to pay for your education will ensure that you have the income you need for the things you want to do after college.

Choosing the Right College

There are many websites that can help you through the college application process.  The College Board’s website is easy to navigate and can be found here:

Paying for College

Don’t get fooled by the “sticker price”.  The reported college “cost of attendance” is rarely the cost students pay.   Please visit our Paying for College page for more information.

Are you making the transition to college now?

Visit our College Transition page for helpful tips and resources.