The cost of attending college is often a big hurdle for some people and financial concerns coupled with stress relating to SAT scores make people tend to panic. People always talk about working full-time, long hours at the job, or double shifts while attending college to be able to pay it off. How much does it really cost though?
Most colleges have a tuition of under $10,000, which is affordable for a good amount of people. Consider that this $10,000 a year tuition is actually an investment into your education as well as your career and it may not seem as bad. This is more on the average costs of college. Of course there more expensive, private school options. There are always private school options if you are willing to shell out the big bucks for them. They are usually at least three times the cost of the average, coming in at over $32,000 annually.
It also means that more financial aid is available to attend these schools. If you are looking at a degree that is only two years, then there are schools that are much cheaper than the previous options. Lastly, a very small number of schools offer free tuition as well.
Money is just one part of the equation. More importantly you need to decide what you want from a top college, and if it can give you the best education and experience you are looking for. Sometimes what may sway you is the weather, the culture, special clubs, or programs. Assuming your grades and test scores make the cut, you can finally have a chat with the family to discuss how much college is going to cost.
Finding Other Solutions
During the last 49 years, the rate of rise in tuition rates has outstripped the general inflation rate for 43 of those years. Because of the steep rises, the costs have become much more than many families can afford. But, there are a number of alternate solutions for students to lower the cost of college.
One way to graduate for a lot cheaper is to attend a junior college instead of a four year school. Junior colleges cost about $2,000 in tuition per year. Their programs last only two years, so an entire associates degree will cost less than one year of a state college. Some students also choose to attend a junior college for the first year or two before transferring to a more expensive four year college. This lowers the rate during the time the student spends in the junior college, and allows the student to take core curriculum classes at the cheaper rate and then transferring those credits.
There are also an increasing number of colleges that offer online courses or even entire online degrees. These are sometimes offered in lieu of regular classes, and are charged at the same credit hour rate as classes taught in a classroom. But, some colleges are making their online courses less expensive in order to cut their own costs for classroom space and resources that the college would otherwise have provided, such as computer use. Online classes also lower transportation costs for students who would have otherwise traveled to campus for the classes.
Filling in the Gap
Financial aid is now the norm at most schools, both public and private. Most private schools have a high percentage of students who are receiving some type of student aid. This can be awarded by the school, funded by the school’s endowment or by the tuition paid by other students. It can also be from private grants or fellowships, and/or from government-sponsored Pell grants. In the 2002-03 year, about $105 billion was pumped into the nations colleges by various financial aid sources.
Students also must borrow money to meet their tuition and living costs. Receiving student aid isn’t always a grant or scholarship. During the 2003-04 year, more than 65 percent of college students took out some type of loan to finance their education. The average student graduating that year did so $17,000 in debt. To get a student loan, the student is considered dependent on the income of the parent or guardian until the student reaches the age of 24. Even if a student is financing the tuition without the help of a parent, the financial aid rules still apply. If the income of the parents is within the range determined by their loan applications, dependent on income, assets, and debt, the student is eligible for loans as well as Pell grants. Using federal student loans in conjunction with grants and scholarships has gone a long way to bridge the gap between the amount many families can afford to pay and the real cost of college.