How expensive is it to go away for college?


Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T, Author. Speaker. CEO.

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One of the first things you should consider is the college’s cost of attendance, which refers to the yearly amount it costs to go to college. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses (such as travel). Another consideration to take into account is the availability of financial aid, whether it’s need-based (based on financial need) or merit-based (based on skill or ability). Grants and scholarships, loans and work-study all figure into financial aid. Keep in mind that there are certain colleges that waive tuition as well as room and board for those students who come from a family with an annual income below a certain level.

Molly Pennington, PhD, Former Professor

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The average national cost of a 4 year university is around $18,000 per year, but it can be considerably higher depending on the school and region that you choose. Going "away" to college can add additional expenses over the long haul. You'll want to consider if the distance from your home is actually viable. Ask yourself the long-term value of attending a school out-of-state (with higher tuition) versus one closer to your home base. Will you and your family be in for a day long road trip to get you to and fro? Or will you have to rely on plane tickets? Consider that you'll need to fly during peak holiday seasons several times a year. While some universities make arrangements for students to remain in the dorms over breaks, consider if you'll want to spend holidays virtually alone on a deserted campus. Likewise, if you don't go home over the summer, you'll have the task of finding housing, potentially off-campus.

College offers you a chance to ease in to adulthood and living on your own. If you choose a college far from home that process speeds up considerably. While that may sound appealing, when the going gets tough (and inevitably it will) it might make sense to be within driving distance of home and parents.

You also want to think of the entire four plus years of your education. Most students end up moving out of dorms by their junior and senior year. If you're far from home, you'll have added expenses when you move off campus. You won't be able to load the back of your parent's minivan with supplies your parents gave you--you'll be starting from scratch with buying furniture and other household items. Make sure you plan for these kinds of costs as well. Even if you're shopping at Goodwill, these costs can add up.

Going away to college is always expensive. Make sure the campus that you choose is the right one for you--especially if it's the next state over or on your opposite coast. Make sure you're getting the most value for the money you'll be spending.

Stacey Ebert, Educator, Writer, Event Planner, Traveler

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Yes, college can be very expensive. Consider the annual cost to attend which would include: tuition, room and board, books, meal plans, travel and any incidentals. Also consider financial aid packets as you and your family might be eligible for assistance. You might be interested in speaking with your school's guidance department to find out more regarding financial aid and other assistance. Also consider that there are a variety of scholarships available as well as looking into state universities and community colleges. Depending on your child, his/her scores and classes and the type of university, there are ways to have the partial or full tuition waived. There are many consultants who help with advising throughout the university process. Good luck.

Pamela Petrease Felder, Paying for college

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Yes. College can be expensive. However, there are some very affordable options available for paying for college; including community colleges. Community college tuition can be manageable and there are a variety of options supporting academic and practical interests. Some community colleges have articulation agreements with 4-year institutions making transfer of academic credits seamless.

Anonymous, Co Founder of GetCollegeFunding | College Admissions and Financial Aid Experts

Depends on the college, the student, and the resources available. There is no cookie cutter answer.

Anonymous, Very costly

Very expensive

Lena Graham, toughts

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Must admit that I am terrified of the future for my kids. I was lucky to have middle class parents who were able to cover my college costs (though still had sometime to freelance for, and I graduated with no debt. I am solidly middle class now, but don't make near enough to save to put two kids (twins) through even a State school with the kind of deal my parents gave me. The cost is 300-400% more now, per kid. I feel awful. I realize that lots of people had no such deal from their parents, took the loans, and still did fine. But that was also when costs were a lot lower.

Kendra Whitmire, Writer and Tutor

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Another important factor in the cost of going away to college is whether or not you go to a public school out of state. Some grants and scholarships do not apply to out of state tuition, so you would be fully responsible for it, and this can be a significant amount of money. This does not apply to private universities because there is no difference in tuition for residents and non-residents.

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