How much will college cost?
Calculate how much college will cost using these resources.
So many people asked the important question, "How much will college cost?" that the College Board created a free online calculator just for this purpose. College Board is not the only organization that has calculated college costs, of course. A list of several other free online calculators is given below.
In addition to using a calculator to determine the total price of your college education, you may want to consider the variety of expenses given below that make up typical college expenses.
When you're asking "how much will college
cost," you should have a list of schools prepared that you are considering attending. Tuition at
colleges and universities varies widely. You may choose an inexpensive
online college, a specialized school such as The Culinary Institute of America, or an Ivy-league
university such as
Now that you know which schools you're considering and what method of delivery you have in mind (traditional residency, online college classes or other), consider this list of typical expenses for college students. Other items that may factor into your expense calculations include:
In-state or out-of-state tuition - Out-of-state and foreign students usually pay higher tuition than in-state students.
Housing - Will you be staying at the college in a dormitory? In an apartment? On-site lodging is less expensive than renting or buying a condominium as many students and their parents do; however, the trade-off is a lack of privacy and no ownership privileges. If you're taking online classes, you still may have housing costs, unless you continue living with your parents.
Transportation - If you plan to commute, how far is the distance? If a vehicle is your mode of transportation, you'll have to calculate mileage, gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, along with vehicle ownership and maintenance costs. Otherwise, you'll have to calculate bus or other travel expenses.
Books will vary widely in price depending upon what courses you are taking and the publisher. You can lower the costs of books and class supplies by purchasing used books at a bookstore or buying online.
Food and snacks - You'll have to eat while you're away at college. What's your food budget? If you eat university meals, it will be cheaper than buying restaurant fare; however, it may be even less expensive to cook your own food in your apartment.
Clothing - Whether it's mandatory items like football gear or new jeans, you will have clothing expenses. Be sure to factor those into your calculations.
Personal items such as soaps, fragrances, deodorant, shampoo, hair care and makeup are a large part of the young adult's budget needs.
School Supplies - Backpacks, paper, pens, notebooks, calculators, computer software, hardware and electronics all fall into the category of school supplies. Estimate your supply needs and budget accordingly.
Household Supplies - You'll have to maintain a household, even if it's a dorm room. Consider the costs of cleaning solutions, broom, mop, duster, etc.
Furniture&Decor - Items such as a bed, chairs, desk, art work and lamps... All of these will be a part of your college expenses in your home away from home.
Utilities such as Internet / Cable / Phone / Lights / Water - All of these will be a part of your budgetary needs.
Entertainment - Yes, you'll need to budget for entertainment. Occasionally, you're going to want to go bowling, out to the movies, or to a football game.
Other Fees - Items such as health insurance, exam fees, doctor visits, checking accounts, credit card payments, etc. will add to your expenses.
Now that you know most of the expenses involved, you should have a better idea of how much college will cost in your unique circumstances. Here is a list of free online calculators to use in making your estimate of college costs:
- Saving for College - This company offers a free online calculator that is simple to use.
- CNN Money - One of the leading financial websites, CNN Money also offers a free college cost calculator.
- College Toolkit has a free online calculator for college expenses.
- FinAid specializes in providing information on financial aid for students and parents.
Students.gov "Plan Your Way for College"