How to Understand and Research College Cost of Attendance Prices in 2020

Facing a necessity to understand why college prices increase, it is crucial to realize that there is a complex mixture of financial, social, educational, and global factors involved. Together, they help to shape the tuition fees and various charges that may occur with a particular college or a payment approach. 

Turning to statistical information, the average cost to attend college per year (for in-state students that live on campus) has increased from $15,381 in the year 2000 to $36,880 in 2019.

According to College Board data, the average tuition and fee price has also increased by $670 for 2-year colleges and by $2,020 for public 4-year colleges in the last year.

As more students find themselves trapped in a student loan challenge, there is an evident college pricing increase and inequality that always take place. The goal of this college pricing research is to analyze the underlying forces that lead to changes in a college environment and the ever-increasing pricing schemes.

College Students Enrollment in 2008-2019 & Related Expenditures

When trying to understand how college prices are shaped in the United States, it is important to check the number of students enrolled in colleges over the last two decades. According to Statista reports, one can see that in a period ranging from 2018 to 2019, around 21.9 million students have enrolled to receive respective undergraduate degrees in the United States compared to 23.2 million in a 2008-2009 period. 
 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.2% of high-school graduates between 16 to 24 have been enrolled in American colleges or universities. The employment rate among 20 to 29-year-olds who were able to earn a bachelor's degree constitutes 76%. However, it is crucial to examine statistical data with a brief comparison between the years. 

For instance, in 2008-2009, the enrollment was 23.2 million, while the following period of 2009-2010 saw an increase of up to 24.7 million. Now, the 2010-2011 period has the highest rating of enrollment of 25.2 million a statistical scope between 2008 and 2019. In the Fall 2019-2020 Semester, there were approximately 18.2 million college students enrolled. 2019-2020 Fall Semester shows a -1,3% decrease compared to Fall 2018-2019 enrollment. 

As the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center confirms, there is a drop of 1.3% in the fall of 2019, which equals to more than 231,000 students, compared to 2018. Compared to the peak in 2011, one can see the decline of more than 2 million students.  

The following factors can explain enrollment sliding downward: 

Cost of college. States are putting less money into higher education, and it reflects on tuition rates and existing college pricing approaches.
 
Strong economy until recently. The more unemployment goes down, the less the level of college enrollment is.

Online education. Colleges are aiming to conduct online courses or virtual remote classes where they still provide high-quality education at a lower cost. Such an approach will reduce costs of business operations and the use of faculty time and facilities. Still, such practice has not taken American colleges by revolution as most students want to follow a classic education format where basic college expenses are expected. 
Although, it is hard to deny that this is a more affordable option for most Americans.

Demographic shift. Because of the lower birth rates about 20 years ago we have fewer students enrolling themselves into colleges.

Speaking of expenditures of college students, even with the decreased number of learners enrolled, the tuition prices continue to increase. It brings more students in debt at higher levels than ever before.

Number of Students Expected to Attend Public and Private Institutions

It is safe to assume that college enrollment in the United States is constantly transforming. Although we can see that the numbers of students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools remain mostly the same, the true changes happen in a way how the resources are distributed. 
 
We decided to compare the number of attendants in US schools by looking at the prognosis provided by The Digest of Education Statistics up to the year 2028. This projection will help to see the number of future college students. The indicators will include elementary, secondary, and degree-granting institutions in the public and private sectors. 
   
Now, let’s move to the enrollment prognosis. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the numbers are the following:

2020

Public Elementary and Secondary Schools - 50,857. Private schools - 5,827.
Grades 9 to 12 have 15,473 - private, - 1,505 -public.
Degree-granting postsecondary institutions: 16,896 students enrolled.
 2-year courses - 6,004, 4-year course students - 10,893.
 Public institutions - 13,213, private - 3,684. 
 Post-baccalaureate – 2,031 students enrolled.

2025

Public Elementary and Secondary Schools - 51,119 Private schools - 5,910. 
Grades 9 to 12 have 15,601 - private, - 1,518 -public.
Degree-granting postsecondary institutions: 17,108 students 
2-year courses - 6,098, 4-year students - 11,008.  
Public institutions - 13,385, private - 3,722.  
Post-baccalaureate – 2,071 students enrolled. 

2028

Public Elementary and Secondary Schools - 51,419. Private schools - 5,969.
Grades 9 to 12 have 15,346 - private, - 1,515 -public.  
Degree-granting postsecondary institutions: 17,215 students to be enrolled. 
2-year courses - 6,148, 4-year students - 11,066.  
Public institutions - 13,474, private - 3,740.  
Post-baccalaureate – 2,092 students enrolled. 

An average enrollment level mostly stays the same with the occasional increase. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the decline in college enrollment is not directly linked to the number of high school graduates. There are other factors like improper payment plans and student loans that do not work well with an average family's income. Besides, the use of technology and online education that became available changed the picture considerably. 

Not every high-school graduate in the US is planning to go to college or has a chance to become accepted. As an example of 2018, 42.8% of all young people between the age of 16 and 24 were not enrolled in any school.

College Costs & Household Income Relation  

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, we can see that the college costs exceed thirty percent of household income in six states in the range from 2008 to 2019 time period. As the latest CBPP research reveals, turning to a college loan often becomes inevitable. Placing a serious financial burden on a student, college costs constitute an individual's resources planning and psycho-emotional state.  

The statistics show an average annual net price of a public 4-year college, which includes tuition fees plus room and boarding. It does not include student aid or scholarships. 
It demonstrates the rising tuition costs by 37% ($2,708) for public four-year colleges since the 2008 school year to 2019 college fees. As the reports show, the cost increase in particular states confirms not only affecting the perspectives of individual students in particular states but influences the community as a whole. 

For example, we can see a 30% net worth increase in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont between the years 2008-2019, which are the communities with a larger number of African American and Hispanic populations with a lower income. 

The Governing confirms that per-student funding in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania has decreased by more than 30 percent, which is less than $1,220 per student. 

Skipping over statistics by state, the other side of the equation represents California, Washington, Utah, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii. Currently, Utah leads the nation with the 16,800 students enrollment increase, which is 4.9% more than in 2018. The other states where enrollment increase has been noticed include Arizona (1.8%), Delaware (0.3%), Georgia (1.5%), Kentucky (1.5%), Louisiana (0.6%), Mississippi (0.3%), Nebraska (0.4%), Nevada (0.3%), New Hampshire (3.4%), North Carolina (0.6%), Rhode Island (0.3%), South Carolina (0.1%), Tennessee (0.6%), and Texas (0.3%).

The situation is not so bright in Florida, which represents the largest enrollment decline and a drop of 52,328 students. The negative reports have been coming from New York (decrease of 19,386 students), California (- 19,272), Missouri (decrease of 14,869 students), and Pennsylvania, which had a drop of 14,799. 

The largest decline is seen in private 4-year institutions, which saw a decrease of 2.1%, while professional education saw a slight enrollment increase by 8% from 2018 to 2019 across most U.S. states. 

The Most Common Types of College Expenditures

The cost of education or the price of college success is a challenging issue both for parents and students in question. According to HSBC's global survey that represents the views of 10,478 parents and 1,507 university students, an average student spends approximately $99,417 over the degree course.  

The statistics also show that 85% of students work hard in a paid environment as full-time students. About 62% of parents were forced to stop or reduce their leisure activities to support their children's college or university education.

Now the cost of education bases itself around seven main points, which are: 

  • Tuition fees. These usually constitute up to 65% of the total cost. 
  • Academic materials and textbooks purchase. It constitutes 62% of expenditures. 
  • Insurance challenges. It stands for transportation, medical insurance, and possible health issues. While an average level remains close to 60%, there may be an increase if any serious health conditions are present. 
  • Food. This expense part takes up to 55% and will vary from college to college. 
  • Money you can spend. Even though this indication is never constant, some parents still take care of allowance or credit card issues, which brings up 49% of college expenditures. 
  • College Room Boarding.  Although most colleges offer several dormitory room options and boarding, there are exceptions to the rule. The charges for living on campus and the meals usually depend on what payment plan is chosen. Some students prefer living at home, which adds transportation (car, public transport) challenges or rent an apartment, which is something to consider if you can team up with a college friend. 
  • Transportation. Transportation costs are inevitable for all college students, whether living on campus or staying home with the family. It will vary depending on how often you travel, yet do not forget about student discounts for most travel-related expenditures. 

An Average Amount Charged for Tuition & Fees at Public Colleges in the United States in 2019/2020

Turning to Statista, one can see that an average amount charged for college (tuition fees and the boarding) in the case with public 4-year colleges varies depending on the part of the United States. The 2019/2020 academic year reveals that in the Midwest of the country, an average amount charged in tuition fees equals to $10,970, while students in the Southwest spend $9,940. In a more detailed report, it is seen that New England tops the list with $13,940, while the West of the United States equals $9,930 in college cost. 

In comparison, 2-year colleges in the United States have a different average cost from $5,700 in New England to 2,460 in the West of the country. On average, as HSBC reveals, college students spend $99,417, while parents spend $82,103 for related college expenditures. It puts a serious financial strain on students, which is why most of them rely upon extra-curricular jobs to cover at least a part of college expenses.

The Average College Education Cost: General Statistics

In the 2019-2020 academic year, the average yearly college tuition price, including fees, room, and boarding was $30,500 on the average, yet the numbers have varied depending on institution type and the in-state or out-of-state rates. As an example:  

The in-state rate for a 2-year public college has an average cost of $12,720, where $3,730 goes for tuition and fees, while $8,990 is spent for room and board. 

The in-state rate for a 4-year institution represents $21,950 with $10,440 for tuition fees, and the remaining $11,510 for room and board. 

Now the out-of-state price equals $38,330 for a 4-year institution with $26,820 for tuition and fees and $11,510 for room and board. 

For private colleges, the same price goes up to $49,879 for the 4-year studies where $36,880 goes for tuition and related expenses. It makes it possible to conclude that an average total price for a 4-year degree is approximately $122,000. 
It is assumed that an average statistical student graduates within four years but only 39% of college students actually cope with the task. Nearly 60% of undergraduate students in the United States take up to 6 years to complete an average 4-year degree course. 
 
As a rule, there are yearly tuition and fees increases. Taking the period between 2010 and 2020 as an example, we see that: 

The average cost increase in 2-year colleges was equal to $700.00.

4-year institutions had an average increase of $2,000 for public colleges and $6,200 for private institutions. 

A longer period of time between 1989 to 2016 shows that the costs to attend an average American college have increased almost eight times faster compared to the wages. For example, in 1989, the expenditures for a 4-year degree college were $52,892 on average, while in 2016, the same price was nearly $104,480 even by considering the inflation adjustment rate. 

Nevertheless, there are positive trends in college pricing as well, which can be seen in the recent developments in higher education. Since the tuition increases have slowed down across several sectors, the institutions tend to provide more financial aid than ever before. The key facts include: 

  1. The published college prices increase at a slower pace. The increase with an average rate of 2.2% per year for public 4-year colleges is a good point compared to an annual 3.9% growth in the period between 1989 and 1999.  
  2. The majority of students avoid paying the sticker college price. Turning to the academic year 2019-2020, the average tuition and relevant fees that have been published for 4-year colleges or universities appeared 43% above net costs. 
  3. Student borrowing is decreasing. The academic year 2018-2019 shows that students and parents have borrowed $106,2 billion for educational purposes which is a decrease compared to 2010-2011 with its $131,7. Current numbers show a decline of $18,470 per year for an average student compared to $19,750 amount in 2010-2011 for a person.  
  4. Financial aid increases. In the period of 2008-2009 and 2019-2020, financial aid has increased by 56% between the years. The Pell Grant awards, as an example, have increased by $7,3 billion or 35%. Similarly, veteran benefits have increased by $8,4 billion or 214 percent.

College Expenditures Statistics: What Students Actually Pay

Even though general statistics may not always reflect it, the practice shows that regardless of their college degree, students in the US tend to spend more on credit payments, personal loans, food, and the student debt expenses than on the academic books and tuition. As the HSBC reports confirm, some students spend up to $4,097 for restaurants or takeaways, while up to $5,026 may go up for bar visits, cinemas, or the nightclubs. Up to $3,435 on an average are spent on clothes and makeup. 

Now with an average college course cost of $99,417 in 2019/20, according to the same HSBC research, the tuition fees represent only $39,045 whereas the other part includes accommodation ($16,566), food and groceries ($8,993), various bills and utilities ($7,262), entertainment purposes ($5,026), credit card, loans, and the student debt ($4,321), eating out ($4,097), academic books and course materials ($3,497), clothes, makeup costs ($3,345), transportation ($2,806), sports clubs and gym ($653), holidays expenses ($609) and the other unidentified costs represent $3,109 on an average. 

In basic terms, most full-time students enrolled at public two-year colleges receive sufficient financial aid in 2019-2020 to cover tuition and related fees, yet the estimate $400 that they have available for other expenses represents a decline of almost $1000 figure in 2010-2011. Related out-of-pocket expenditures are $8,600 on average. 

In the 2019-2020 period, average published tuition and fees for public 4-year college have increased by $590 from $9,850 in 2014-2015 to almost $10,440 in 2019-2020. Likewise, the average net tuition and fees for full-time students at private 4-year colleges have increased from $13,400 in the 2011-2012 period to $14,400 in 2019-2020. 

Considering these changes, the average net price for low-income students in the private non-profit sector has decreased by 2% to $7,580 compared to $12,020 in the 2015-2016 period. 

Average Tuition and Fees and Room and Board in Current Dollars, 2018-19 & 2019-20

According to the College Board data for 2019-2020, there is an evident increase in published tuition and room boarding fees, which is the largest in the private non-profit sector, with an average price increase of 3.4%. 

It represents a $1,200 increase to already existing $36,880 expenditures. In comparison, in 2018-2019, the average tuition and fee price of $14,600 for the full-time students enrolled in commercial institutions was about four times as high as the same average price at public 2-year colleges.

The 4-year in-state college represents:

  • 2,3% increase in 2019-2020 for tuition and fees, summing up to $10,440. 
  • Room and board increased by 2,9% or $11,510. 
  • Overall fees have an increase by 2,6% or $550. 

The out-of-state statistics for 2019-2020:

  • 2,4% increase ($26,820) in for tuition and fees, 
  • 2,9% increase or $11,510 for room and board,
  • total increase - 2,5% or $38,300. 

Expected College Cost 2020-2021

While it’s hard to calculate the exact cost of attending a college in 2020-2021, the estimated cost for one academic year depends on both direct and indirect expenses like  tuition, books and travel trips.

As an example, the estimated cost for the famous Yale University in 2020-2021 will include a total of $78,725 where the numbers are made of:  

  • Tuition and Fees - $57,700
  • Room - $9,750
  • Board - $7,450
  • Books and Personal Expenditures - $3,700
  • Various Student Activities - $125

According to the U.S. News infographics, the average tuition & fees costs in 2019-2020 are equal to $10,116 for public in-state, $22,577 for public out-of-state, and $36,801 for private colleges, which does not include financial aid award packages. 

Room and Board: On-Campus vs. Off-Campus

One of the most common challenges among college students when it comes down to the college costs is on-campus versus renting off-campus dilemma. 

According to Education Data reports, 87% of college students live off-campus. Indeed, in some cases, it may be cheaper to live off-campus, yet such is true only for those cases where it is affordable for modern students. The average annual room and board pricing for the period of 2018-2019 were $11,140, while the 2019-2020 statistics have an increase and represent $11,510. The numbers vary from university to university, which is why it is recommended to look into renting off-campus. 

As an example, the costs for room and boarding can be decreased by 50% if the room is shared with another student, while the room and on-campus board colleges have a flat rate regardless if there are two or more people sharing a dorm room. Now the areas with extremely high renting prices make an on-campus living a much better and affordable option. 

A good example that proves the assumption is Stanford University, where an average student would have to pay $16,500 to share an apartment with another person, while on-campus costs would be $8,301. In another example, we can see that Columbia University students can share an apartment that would cost $17,000 for nine months, while the cost of life on-campus would be equal to $9,400.

According to The HOPE Center, nearly 60 percent of colleges significantly underestimate or overestimate off-campus living costs, which often results in inaccurate statistics. 

The aforementioned research and press releases confirm that even the government calculation tools like College Scorecard set wrong net pricing, which often provides misleading information that makes it extremely hard for applicants to compare room and boarding costs, among other factors. A lot of college applicants find out their living costs are much higher than they can afford only after enrollment.

Main American Colleges Comparison & Their Expected Cost of Attendance in 2020-2021

The best way to understand the pricing specifics and the differences is exploring the actual examples by taking diverse American colleges as a sample of an average for 2020-2021: 

Texas - Blinn College

Summing up the total attendance cost prices, we can see that the total price for one year depends whether a student is living on campus, with the parents, or being an out of district applicant. In-District (On Campus) price equals approximately $19,600. Since the prices are slightly lower than average, the Board Price for On-Campus costs $2,800, while the room is $5,695 under the same conditions. 

New York - Daemen College

The total tuition & fees cost for a year for the full-time students and 12-18 credit hours is $30,360, which has $360 for the general college fee and $300 for student activity fees. The part-time students will have to pay $990 per credit hour with an additional college fee of $85 and a student activity fee of $9. 

Residence and board pricing vary from $13,860 with 19-Meal Plan to $12,640 with the 10-Meal Plan choice. 

Graduate student's tuition per semester is equal to $997 per credit hour, while international students will have to pay $44,470 per academic year undergraduate program 12 credit hours. A similar graduate program equals $32,543.   

Oregon - Linfield College

Unlike Berklee's expensive tuition fees, Linfield College of Nursing asks for $22,225 per semester. The room is $3,520, and the board is $2,1000, which is a bit lower than average. The personal expenses usually equal $900 while transportation is $1000, which is something to consider. The book supplies are $800, while first semester uniforms are $300. The loan is $40.

Massachusetts - Eastern Nazarene College

The total tuition cost is $25,952. The room and boarding are $9,985. The student fee is $1000. Now the total payment for freshman and new students is $36,937. 

The 2020-2021 direct costs for returning students that have enrolled before Fall Semester of 2018 total $44,445, where tuition is $33,460, Room and Boarding are $9,985, and student fees still remain at $1000.

Missouri - Columbia College

The total cost of attendance 2020-2021 for graduate students is $40,188 for three semesters, where there are at least six credit hours taken per semester online or in-seat presence. The tuition for three semesters is $14,580, which marks a rapid price decrease, while the books and course materials cost is $360. The room and board constitute $13,056 per 3 semesters. Transportation, however, is $4,272 per 3 semesters, while the personal expenses go up to $7,776. 

Pennsylvania - Lycoming College

The tuition price for the 2020-2021 academic year is $20,992 per semester or $41,984 per year. Standard room costs are $3,412 per semester or $6,824 per year. The Standard Board expenses constitute $3,280 per semester or $6,560 per year. Speaking of Room and Board, one can choose a standard room that costs $3,412, a college apartment of $4,440, go for Commuter Board Plan of $1,045 or choose a May & Summer Standard Room of $72 per week, which is a new option available from 2020. 

Pennsylvania - Lycoming College

The tuition price for the 2020-2021 academic year is $20,992 per semester or $41,984 per year. Room costs are $3,412 per semester or $6,824 per year. Board expenses constitute $3,280 per semester or $6,560 per year. Speaking of Room and Board, one can choose a standard room that costs $3,412, a college apartment of $4,440, go for Commuter Board Plan of $1,045 or choose a May & Summer Standard Room of $72 per week, which is a new option available from 2020. 

Maryland - McDaniel College

The tuition here offers a maximum of 20 credits and costs $45,876 per year. The standard, double occupancy room is $5,626 per year. The board is $6,620 per year. The New Student Comprehensive fee, which includes student activities, on-campus print allowance, fitness facilities, and the technology infrastructure, is $975 per year. 

The indirect costs for books and supplies are $1,200 per year, and transportation is about $750 per year. Personal expenses usually go up to $900, yet may vary depending on the personal planning approach. 

Massachusetts - Berklee College

The tuition fees that are mandatory are slightly higher than average with $45,890 for a degree and $39,540 for diploma fees. In addition, there is a mandatory software bundle, which has an estimated price of $1,500. In general, total on-campus costs are $74,335 for a degree and $67,985 for a diploma. The off-campus costs are $70,613 for a degree, while diploma expenditures make up $64,263. Due to Berklee specifics, there may be additional expenses that are not mandatory, yet are necessary for successful completion of most degrees. 

California - California's College of the Arts

The college praises itself as one of the most flexible when it comes to attendance prices. However, since we are dealing with the State of California, the undergraduate tuition price for such a highly acclaimed institution for the academic year 2020-2021 is $52,608. The graduate tuition for the academic year varies between $33,228 to $66,456, depending on what course is chosen by the applicant. It shows that the choice of a future major affects the pricing scheme in a quite serious way. 

Pennsylvania - Bryn Mawr College

At Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, the academic year of 2020-2021 includes not only tuition, fees, room, and boarding, but also has an allowance of $2,000 for personal student expenses, books, supplies, and a travel allowance that ranges from $80 to $900, depending on the home state of a student. Room and board are $17,720, while the room only is $10,110, which is quite high. The college fee is $920. The continuing enrollment fee is $450 per semester. Additionally, there are Student Government Association Dues equal to $380.  

New Hampshire - Dartmouth College

The next entry is New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College which has the following direct costs that include tuition costs of $57,796, student fees of $1,662, housing taking up to $10,362, and the meals being $6,660. The college openly recommends arriving on campus with sufficient out-of-pocket funds as one will need an average of $1,015 per term to pay for one's own books, supplies, laundry, and so on. The indirect costs for books include $1,005, while the other expenses are $2,040 on average. 

Maryland - McDaniel College

The tuition here offers a maximum of 20 credits and costs $45,876 per year. The standard, double occupancy room is $5,626 per year. The board is $6,620 per year. Now the New Student Comprehensive fee, which includes student activities, on-campus print allowance, fitness facilities, and the technology infrastructure, is $975 per year. Now the indirect costs for books and supplies are $1,200 per year, and transportation is about $750 per year. Personal expenses usually go up to $900, yet may vary depending on the personal planning approach. 

New York - Marist College

The last entry in New York's Marist College, which sets the attendance cost in accordance with the federal regulations, as it is specified in their tuition and fees guidelines. The billed or direct freshman's resident expenses include $45,430 for tuition and fees, while the room & boarding include $16,380. It makes up $61,810 in total, which is the most expensive college in the list. Now the indirect expenses include book and supplies ($1,125), Travel and Transportation ($1000), and the Personal or Miscellaneous Expenditures that are also $1000.

Affordable Colleges & Universities 

The appearance of affordability in public colleges in the time of the novel coronavirus is not surprising. Thousands of yesterday's employees are left without jobs and are seeking for additional training and education to avoid the challenges of economic downturns. Education is a way to expand one's skills while the markets for employment are still unstable, which is why both governmental and state funds work hard to ensure that colleges remain affordable and accessible even during the times when excessive downturns take place. 

The top 5 cheapest colleges in the United States that you can afford include:

College Price Campus and Boarding
Molloy College Price remains the same for all students - $26,850 $13,590
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry $7,398 for in-state, $17,048 for out-of-state $15,120
San Diego State University $6,866 for in-state students; 18,026 - out-of-state $14,745
East Carolina University $6,143 per year for in-state students; for out-of-state - $21,340 $8,833
University of the District of Columbia $5,251 for in-state students, and $11,233 for out-of-state $16,425

According to the CBPP report, the average net price of a public 4-year college ranges from 15% of median household income in Alaska to 36% in South Carolina. Even though it may not fully reflect recession-based challenges, such changes are vital for families with low income who cannot afford typical college costs without additional support.

Tips for Lowering the Cost of Higher Education

The increase in college tuition, even if it is moderate, still comes as an unexpected challenge to most college students these days. Considering the inflation rate, rising student debts, and COVID-19, it is crucial to seek ways to decrease the cost of higher education. Even if it is only one point that you will cope with, it is a guarantee of additional funds. The key is preparation! 

  1. Start saving funds. You can set up college savings account for yourself or for a younger sibling. Some parents do so for the children, which is a good option to apply in your situation. 
  2. Challenge yourself as a high-school student. Do not ignore an opportunity to take demanding courses to have a better qualification for college enrollment. Earn additional college credits through Advanced Placement programs. 
  3. Study available college options. Take time to visit several campuses to choose what fits your situation best. 
  4. Never hurry with a major choice, yet remember that transfers or change of majors after the second academic year may result in additional time and unnecessary costs. 
  5. Apply for financial aid. Find out whether you are eligible. Even if you do not find yourself in a special situation, there may be grants and scholarships that will fit your particular major.
  6. Use student loans with great care. Borrow only if you can afford to pay back. If possible, avoid private loans due to their demanding terms. 

Other tips include: living at home to decrease the room and boarding costs, trading in for used textbooks, joining your college mates in a shared expenses plan and trying to earn as many college credits as possible without exhausting yourself too much. If there are any additional courses or summer school, consider it as an option to improve your grades and work on social skills. 

How to Create a College Budget

A college budget may sound challenging, yet it is designed in a similar manner to an annual budget. It has a goal to help students understand and deal with the costs of tuition and the rest of the expenses of a typical college year. A correct college budget helps to avoid the most common financial mistakes. 

  • Cost of College Numbers. Write down the tuition costs and the costs associated with a college of your choice. Notice that living in the dorms can be either less or more expensive compared to renting an apartment with a friend. Think about the meal plan and the book costs.
  • Daily Expenses. It includes the rent expenses for those living off-campus, shopping, and utility bills. Then there is clothing, going out to movies or college parties, short or long-term spring break trips. One of the most common new expenses related to any college plan is transportation. 
  • Calculate the total cost for the year. While the amount you get may be shocking, it is also a good way to consider a more fitting college or a summer job. Alternatively, consider working as a student or applying for financial aid. 
  • Use all available resources. Consider getting a summer job, part-time employment, college scholarships, grants, and special college awards. 
  • Keep your budget under control. Once you have an approximate outline, it is a good time to look for the different college payment plans and analyze each part of the plan to understand what can be decreased or what can come out as an additional expense. Think over your daily needs! 

Tuition and fees are not the only things to consider when planning a student budget for 2019-2020 and beyond. As the College Board annual survey confirms, they constitute up to 39% of the total budget of college students.

An average for the public 4-year on-campus budget will run into $26,590, where $10,440 goes for tuition and fees, $11,510 go for a room and board purposes, $1,240 for books and supplies, $1,230 for transportation, and the remaining $2,170 are for other expenses. 

Now the private non-profit 4-year institution with on-campus boarding can result in $53,980 where tuition and fees make $36,880 of the total amount and the boarding being $12,990. It makes the average of in-state tuition and fee prices of 4-year public institutions lower by 72%.

The College Cost Solutions are Out There 

We can assume that college attendance prices remain relatively stable in 2020, even in times of economic uncertainty. Colleges are aiming to become more affordable, although tuition fees still grow as some reports confirm. While the 2020-2021 period came as a financial shock for most educators, parents and students, it is too early to determine whether the future and current costs will meet the decreased income. 

Studying the available statistics, one should always remember that it does not always demonstrate a true picture.  When choosing a college, careful consideration of each unique policy and expense will help to shape the pricing. 

Finally, personal budget planning and turning to financial aid and scholarships is an opportunity for every student to cope even with the most expensive colleges. It is an investment that takes time and consideration. After all, investing in knowledge is what pays the best interest! 

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