The Steep Reality of College Costs

January 13, 2023

There’s a saying that college costs an arm and a leg. However, this is far from true. In reality, it may cost as much as a starter house in a decent neighborhood plus a car or two.

The cost of college has been on the rise over the past two decades. According to the U.S. News recent data, tuition and fees at private national universities have increased by 134%. Out-of-state tuition and fees at public national universities have surged by 141%. Above all, in-state tuition and fees have risen by 175%.

The National Center for Education Statistics claims that in 1980, the cost for attending a four-year institution was $10,231 annually. However, between 2019-2020, the annual price soared to $28,775, indicating a 180% increase. According to Forbes, this reason behind this drastic increase includes recent changes in state and local funding due to shifts in market conditions and tax revenues, more maintenance costs for college-provided services, and the expansion of student-support resources.

What is Included in College Costs?

There are several expenses included in total college cost. Besides the initial tuition that institutions require for enrollment, many miscellaneous fees are required over the course of a college education.

Some of the main items included in the cost of college are below::

  1. Tuition
  2. Room and board
  3. Books and school supplies
  4. Equipment and room materials
  5. Travel and expenses

The Dos for Affording College

Before you consider selling your home or taking out a hefty loan, there are several methods that families employ in order to better afford the rising cost of college. These methods include both long-term and short-term plans. They include the following:


Various organizations provide scholarships asfree aid for students. These scholarships can be offered at both the local and national level, ranging from small to large sums of money to help pay for tuition costs and fees.

These can be merit-based, academic, or athletic scholarships granted based on a student’s performance. The U.S. Department of Education awards close to $46 billion in scholarship money annually to help students cover costs.

Federal Grants

Yes, the government can give you money! The U.S. Department of Education awards federal grants to students based on their financial status. In order to qualify for these grants, students submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much money is allotted for their college costs.

Federal Loans

The federal government distributes fixed interest rate loans to the public that are either subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are permitted based on financial need where the government covers the interest acquired by a loan during the time a student is in school to six months after graduation. On the other hand, unsubsidized loans require a student to pay the gathered interest on a loan.


The Federal Work-Study Program offers part-time jobs to students to earn money towards their college expenses. These jobs can be either off-campus or on-campus and are required to pay students the federal minimum wage.

Advanced Placement and Dual-Enrollment Credits

Throughout high school, many students enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) or Dual-Enrollment classes to receive college credit. They may require many sleepless nights and endless amounts of homework, but earning prior credit for these courses helps students save college tuition costs.

College Savings

The most important method for reducing costs is creating a plan ahead of time to allocate money for college. A 529 college savings account, which is an investment account that provides tax benefits, can help cover educational expenses. Designing a plan ahead of time will help make college more affordable for students across the nation.

As a parent, it is important to start coming up with solutions to make college more inexpensive for your children. Consider applying for federal loans and grants, having your student apply for scholarships and work-studies, and most importantly, have a plan ready for college savings and payments. At, you can track college costs and plan out potential methods for saving money on educational expenses.

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