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  Step 4: College Costs and Financial Aid
Many families overestimate the cost of college or believe that all schools are expensive. Although some colleges are expensive, costs vary from institution to institution. There are various sources of financial aid to help students pay for college, which can make college affordable for eligible students.

Select a topic to learn more:
College Costs
Tuition at Public and Private Colleges
Future College Costs
Types of Financial Aid

College Costs
When calculating college costs, there are two types of expenses to consider:
Direct costs
Direct costs are generally billed by the college and include tuition and fees. Some students will be charged fees based on the classes they choose, such as flight fees for flight training classes.
Indirect costs
Indirect costs are not always billed by the college, but they are expenses you will incur. Indirect costs can include room and board, books and supplies, transportation and travel, personal expenses, medical and dental expenses, and miscellaneous expenses.


The basic costs of college typically included:
Tuition is the amount of money that colleges charge for instruction and for the use of some facilities, such as libraries. At some colleges, tuition is a flat fee; at others the tuition is based on the number of credits the student takes. Tuition charges vary from college to college and are dependent on such factors as student residency (i.e. in-state or out-of-state status), level of classes enrolled in (i.e. lower, upper or graduate division), and whether the institution is publicly or privately financed. Tuition does not include the cost of books, fees, or room and board.
Fees are additional charges not included in the tuition. Fees may be charged to cover the cost of materials and equipment needed in certain courses, and they may be assessed for student activities, athletic activities, clubs, special events, programs, and publications.
Books and Supplies
Books and supplies cost will vary each term (i.e. semester, quarter, trimester). The costs for your books depends on whether you buy new or used books. You may need to purchase additional supplies for certain classes, like supplies for an art class.
Room costs depend on whether you plan to live on-campus or off-campus. If you live on-campus in a dorm room, room costs will depend on whether you live in a single, double, triple, or quad occupancy room. If you live off-campus in an apartment, you have to determine if you will have a roommate and calculate the total expenses that includes monthly rent and all utilities (i.e. gas, electricity, telephone, etc.).
Board costs vary widely, which depends on whether you live on-campus (dorm) or off-campus (apartment). If you live in a dorm, you can choose a meal plan from various choices. Meal plans guarantee that you will have a set amount of meal each week (i.e. 5, 10, 14 meals per week). You can request detailed information from the schools you plan to attend. If you live in an apartment, you have to estimate your weekly or monthly grocery bill.
Transportation and travel
Transportation and travel includes the cost of commuting to and from class and the cost of traveling home during breaks and vacations. If you live on-campus, there's probably no cost for commuting, unless you have a car and decide to drive to class. If you live off-campus, you may have to calculate bus/train fares to commute to and from class or gas for driving to campus. The amount spent traveling home depends on how often you go home and the method of transportation (i.e. train, bus, plane, or carpool).
Personal expenses
Personal expenses include clothing, entertainment, phone, laundry, toiletries, etc. You should create a monthly budget for personal expenses.
Miscellaneous expenses
Miscellaneous expenses include sorority/fraternity/club dues, tutoring, summer programs, etc.

If you are interested in calculating an estimated cost for attending a specific college, contact each school and request a school catalog, housing brochure, and other information regarding the academic program you are seeking for admittance. For information on additional fees for certain programs, contact the academic department directly and a financial aid administrator. Remember this is only an estimate; actual costs may differ from the school's estimated cost of attendance, once school starts.

Tuition at Public and Private Colleges
It is important to know the difference between public and private institutions.
Public Institutions
Over three-quarters of all students in two-and four-year colleges attend State or other public colleges. Since these schools receive a large proportion of their budgets from State or local government through tax dollars, they can charge students who live in that State (in-State students) relatively low tuition. Students from other States (out-of-State students) usually pay higher tuition.
Private Institutions
Private (sometimes called "independent") institutions charge the same tuition for both in-State and out-of-State students. Private college tuitions tend to be higher than those of public colleges because private schools receive less financial support from States and local governments. Although, private schools’ tuition is higher, don’t rule them out. Private school can often offer enough financial aid to make their schools affordable for students to attend.

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Future College Costs

Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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