The Average Cost of College
It’s no secret — the average cost of college stateside has skyrocketed in recent years. In the good old days, baby boomers were able to support themselves through higher education with just part-time summer jobs. Nowadays, millennials are struggling through their adult lives to repay the huge student loans they took amid the current rising cost of college. Although more expensive, college is not out of reach for most people, and, with some careful planning, it can even turn out to be a bargain. Read through for our full analysis.
Stats and Facts on the Average Cost of College
- In-state college students pay about $103,456 to attend a four-year college.
- Out-of-state students pay $174,884 on average for higher education.
- In the last 20 years, the cost of college has grown at a rate of 6.8% per year.
- The average college class costs approximately $1,677.
- The average cost of attending college online varies between $38,496 and $60,593.
- A student will spend about $1,200 per year on textbooks.
Average Cost of 4 year College
Alumni of an in-state institution should expect to pay around $103,456 in total for the cost of state college, with $38,320 going toward tuition fees and $65,136 on additional expenses such as housing, food, and other necessities. This compares to a bill of $174,884 at the end of the four years for out-of-state students. They pay an estimate of $109,748 on tuition and $65,136 on other expenses.
For graduates of a private non-profit university, the total cost of college amounts to a whopping $215,796. Their tuition amounts to approximately $148,800 while they spend about $66,996 on adjacent goods and services. On the other hand, for the attendees of a for-profit institution, the average total cost of 4-year college is $138,192. They spend $53,900 in fees and $84,292 on other necessary purchases. The cost of college education for students attending an in-state school for two years is $32,074 in total. They pay just $6,744 for fees and $25,330 for other expenses. Those that go to a two-year private non-profit institution go home with an average total bill of $69,112. They pay about $34,588 on tuition and their adjacent costs are $34,524. For-profit colleges charge, on average, $31,948 for two years of tuition fees and students attending those spend around $27,968 on the rest of their necessities, amounting to a total cost of $59,916.
Private vs. Public College
The average cost of private college is around $50,900 in total, out of which $34,740 is spent on tuition and the rest of $16,160 covers additional costs. As such, students of private universities pay about $12,210 for room and board, $1,220 on books and supplies, $1,030 on transportation, and $1,700 on miscellaneous expenses.
Public colleges have the reputation of being cheaper than the cost of a private college, but how much can students really save? Out-of-state public institutions cost around $40,940 in total for a four-year program. The tuition’s price tag is $25,620, with other expenses on top of that. Students who pick the in-state route meanwhile will pay $25,290 on average to cover the full costs of attending a four-year program.Unsurprisingly, the average cost of community college is lower than the cost of 4-year college. However, the amount students in America spend on higher education is still very high, even compared to their earnings. For the past 20 years, the cost of college has tripled, with the annual growth rate being 6.8%. Student loan stats show that borrowers spend approximately 20 years paying off their debt. Taking into account the interest and income loss they face, the ultimate cost for a bachelor’s graduate may even go above $400,000.
Average Cost of College Per Year
In the United States, the average yearly college cost for in-state university students is $25,864. As such, the median price of in-state tuition is $9,580 per year, and the additional expenses a student should expect to have to support himself are around $16,284. Out-of-state tuition averages $27,437, with estimated $16,284 additional expenses needed, totaling $43,721.Nonprofit university students spend 53,949 as their average yearly cost of college, $37,200 of which goes to tuition and other fees, and $16,749 in adjacent costs. For-profit attendees pay an average of $34,548 per year in total, out of which $13,475 goes to fees and $21,073 on the rest.
Average Cost College Class Cost
In general, the cost of a college credit hour is around $559. As most college courses are worth three credit hours, this means that the average cost of a college class is $1,677.
Cheaper Ways to Attend College
Since attending college has become less of a comfortable process, many aspiring young people are ditching the idea of going at all. This might not be the best path for everyone, so a lot of them are also looking for alternate ways. To help them out, we sorted the best ways to bring the average cost of a four-year college down, to levels where most Americans should at least get by, if not even attend comfortably.
Financial aid consists of grants and scholarship programs designed to help students with good results in school and sports. Students with disadvantaged personal situations who show extraordinarily academic results may also be favored. College admission consultants will always advise families to apply for financial aid as soon as possible since that is how they can maximize their chances of getting it. As such, the average cost of college tuition can be reduced drastically.
On average, a student borrower pays $1,898 in interest each year to cover their student loans. Those who score a GPA of 4.0 or higher get the chance of getting a scholarship and dodge most of these costs, but other students may also benefit from them in special circumstances. Each school may have different rules on them. But how much does it really help? Well, besides covering the tuition costs, the aid may also be spent on other necessities, within reason. Students that have the opportunity for one should, as the average cost of college after scholarships are significantly lower, if not even zero.
Dual Enrollment Courses
These programs allow high-school students to participate in classes at institutions such as community colleges. Also referred to as early college, this type of program is a great way to earn some extra credits for free or very cheap. These will then count to the requirements for the future college curriculum while at the same time also allow high schoolers to finish their current education. It can be challenging to study in this rhythm, however, it’s a great way to reduce the average cost of a semester of college, since you won’t be paying for as many classes.
One often-overlooked way of getting a higher education is through a 2-year program in a community college, maybe even in your hometown. Many students falsely believe their careers will suffer if they do not complete the full four years. The truth, however, is that employers rarely care and the money saved due to the lower cost of community college is not something to pass up on easily. College students can rake valuable credits for a fraction of what they would have spent otherwise.The average cost of college tuition per year is way lower than university fees if you attend community college. Besides, in general, students also don’t have to spend as much (or anything at all even) on necessities such as housing and food.
Over the past few decades, since the internet has gone mainstream, online college classes have also been growing in popularity. It doesn’t just offer a cheaper alternative to traditional higher education, but it’s also more flexible, and convenient. The average cost of online college tuition ranges from $38,496 to $60,593.Besides the cost of online college tuition being lower, a ton of other expenses can also be avoided. Some students may even choose to keep living with their parents and have basically zero costs. Another huge advantage of online college is that due to the flexibility, students may have an easier time working while also completing their student duties.
Average Cost of Books for College
The cost of college textbooks can add up, and they are infamous for burdening down students, not only literally, but also in cost. Unfortunately, many have also complained that besides being pricey, they didn’t even use some of them at all. Still, a study done by US PIRG found that 94% of students who didn’t have the textbook required for a class felt their academic progress was impacted negatively. The average cost of college textbooks is estimated to be around $1,200 per year. Fortunately, there are some ways to save money on them too.
Buying Used Books
While this might not always be an option since some classes require supplemental materials that will only come with a new book, most of the time it is a viable alternative. Besides, your chances of finding a book that still is in good shape are fairly high. If some notes and scribbles here and there are not distracting, this option can be a significant cost saver. To top it all off, at the end of the semester, you can then resell it yourself, and recoup some of your money, lowering your average cost of college books significantly.
It’s no shame in getting a book temporarily and paying just a fraction of the price on it. While you would have to time studying for finals and returning them, the savings are worth it.
Sharing With Someone Else
If you have a friend taking the same classes as you, splitting the cost of a book in two is a good alternative. If you can manage it, you could even split it with multiple people.
Textbook companies do offer, most of the time, a digital alternative as well. This is great news for students since the cost of physical books is always higher. For example, a new copy of the 1st edition of Campbell Biology costs over $200, while its digital counterpart can be obtained for $75. It’s no wonder that so many students are choosing books in digital format to bring their average cost of college textbooks per semester lower.
Other Major Student Expenses
In addition to tuition and textbooks, there’s a lot else that goes into a college/university education, further inflating costs.
Most students don’t want to hear a word about health insurance. Colleges, however, typically require enrollment in a student health insurance plan if they are not already insured elsewhere. However, 8.7% of students in 2016 still lacked covering, exposing them to enormous potential financial hardship due to the exorbitant costs of healthcare in the US. As such, the average cost of college student health insurance is estimated to be somewhere in the $1,500-$2,500 range per year.
Room and Board
One cost that students can hardly avoid is housing since most are not attending college in their hometown or even home state. Food is another significant daily expense. Attendees of a 4-year institution pay anywhere ranging from $10,216 to $11,945 to cover these expenses each year. Students who live on campus spend around $11,451 annually while the average cost of college room and board for those who stay off-campus is $10,781.This doesn’t tell us the full story though, as, depending on where you attend, these costs may go up or down drastically. For example, students at the University of California, Berkeley, pay approximately $19,620 yearly, which is almost double the national average. On the other hand, Northwestern Oklahoma State University attendees have to pay significantly lower, $4,950 per year to be more exact. This is 50% less than the average cost of room and board for college in America.
Cost of College in the Past
As we have already mentioned, the price for higher education has grown exponentially over the last half-century. But how much, really? Well, statistics show an incredible 3,009% increase in price over the last 50 years.
While inflation naturally accounts for part of this surge, data shows that since 1970, the total inflation has been only 591.38%, meaning that the truth still stands: the cost of college over time is skyrocketing.
The actual numbers tell the full story of the growth of the cost of college tuition over time. As such, the average cost of college in 1970 was $405 per year for four-year public institutions and $1,792 to attend a private establishment. Over the next decade, it grew to $800 and $3,620 respectively. In 1990, students paid $1,910 on average per year to attend public universities and $9,340 for private ones. By 2000, the costs had gotten up to $3,510 and $16,070. Over the following decade, the prices grew to $7,630 and $26,770.Today, the situation is no different, as the average cost of college continues to grow, with private institutions taking the lead as the most expensive. The rising cost of academic tuition has created, so far, more than $1.46 trillion in millennial student loan debt, according to the New York Federal Reserve. Nowadays, the average American youngster must earn $22,000 more than the current median income to afford to go to college.
Average Cost of College in the US by State
Since the United States is such a vast territory, not only geographically but also economically and socially, it’s important to always note the differences when analyzing the cost of college, which also accounts for major differences when observing student loan debt by state.
Like most other things, college costs more on the East and West Coast, but attending university in some landlocked states can also be expensive. Next, we’ll provide glimpses of the price of obtaining higher schooling in different parts of the country.
Average Cost of College in California
For the 2019-2020 academic year, statistics place the average fees for colleges in California at $3,736 for in-state and $19,272 for out-of-state. Unsurprisingly, the cost in California is higher than the national average. Glendale Career College has been dubbed as the most expensive, requiring a total of $71,838 for fees. At the other end of the spectrum, the ABC Adult School costs only $700.
Average Cost of College in New York
Infamous for its high costs of living, New York City also requires a hefty price for college. NYU estimates the total costs of attendance for alumni of 2020 at $76,614, out of which $53,310 were spent on tuition and fees, $18,684 for room and board, $752 on books, $1,110 for transit, $2,758 for personal expenses, and $4,620 on miscellaneous purchases.
Average Cost of College in Texas
The median in-state yearly cost of college in Texas for tuition was about $16,319 for the 2019-2020 academic year. Midwestern State University Wichita Falls has been dubbed as the most affordable college in the state.
Average Cost of College in Florida
College tuition on average in 2020 was $6,179 for state residents and $23,861 for students from a different state. The most expensive is the University of Miami ($51,930) and the cheapest is the University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee ($16,502), when we consider the average total cost of college.
Average Cost of College in Michigan
To attend the Ann Arbor University of Michigan, the estimated fees for students in 2020 were $15,558 for in-state freshmen and sophomores and $17,522 for juniors and seniors. Also, out-of-state students paid about $51,200 and $54,794, respectively.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend College Abroad?
Although not all degrees acquired abroad are recognized in the US, the high average cost of college in America may push some to consider studying in a different country. Looking at the data, we can easily see how this might be a good option.
Cost of College in Canada
As a multicultural and diverse country like the US, Canada is highly attractive for students from all around the globe. Not only that, but the cost of tuition here is usually lower than in the US, UK, or Australia. Canadian citizens pay an average of C$6,463 on undergraduate degrees per year. International students should expect a yearly bill of C$29714 (~$22,500).
Cost of College in Germany
It might be shocking for someone from the US, but the average cost of a college education for most of the Universities in Germany is actually zero. You read that right. Since 2016, the majority of German universities have abolished fees for higher learning. Besides some small administrative spending and living expenses, the cost of free college stands, and not only for German students but also for international, including non-EU students. Since 2016, however, some establishments reintroduced fees for internationals, although only a small minority of them. For example, non-EU attendees of Baden-Württemberg must now pay €3,000 (~$3,500) per year in tuition fees, which is still a bargain compared to the average cost of college in the States.
Cost of College in France
As a member of the EU and the European Economic Area, France offers the option to attend college for free to students that come from other members of these political and economic unions. However, if you are an international student, you must pay tuition fees. International students in France will have to fork out €2,770 ($3.356) per year in tuition fees.
Cost of College in Japan
Japan is known to offer some of the highest standards of education in the world. Compared to their American counterparts, Japanese students have it easy, having to pay ¥535,800 (or $6,500) per year.
Cost of College in Australia
As one of the most popular study destinations in the world with over 624,000 international students and counting, Australia has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, the costs of attending a university Down Under are quite high, with estimates suggesting that a student must pay about A$20,290 (~$14,600) per year on living costs and AU$30,840 (~$22,170) on tuition. This would put the average cost of a college degree obtained in Australia at a minimum of $169,840.
Cost of College in Ireland
Students looking for a better deal on the cost of college tuition than in the US may want to look somewhere different than Ireland. While a little cheaper, the prices are still higher than most places in Europe. As such, it costs approximately between $9,915 and $13,145 to study for a year at Trinity College Dublin. The University College Cork charges around $7,320-$28,550, depending on the area for those studying abroad.
The Bottom Line
The average cost of college and university is on the rise, which puts a lot of pressure on students and their families. That said, there are ways to reduce those costs with careful planning and possibly, exploring some overseas studying options.
References: EducationData, ValuePenguin, EducationData, Federal Student Aid, US News, DaveRamsey, US NEWS, Cappex, U.S. PIRG, USNews, BestColleges, The Scholarship System, InflationTool, Yahoo, College Tuition Compare, CNBC, CollegeCalc, Affordable Schools, College Tuition Compare, CNBC, TopUniversities, TopUniversities, InternationalStudentInsurance, StudyEU, TopUniversities, MasterPortal