Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.com » Paying for College

Average College Tuition

average college tuition

Average college tuition and fees in the United States are approximately $12,400 per year for public and private institutions, two-year colleges and four-year universities and in-state and out of state tuition are factored in using figures provided by the College Board.

However, as with any calculation of averages, this takes into account widely disparate figures, with some very high and some very low college tuition costs and others situated somewhere in between. While college tuition costs vary according to the specific institution, there are some important factors that can influence the costs of college tuition, and in turn the average college tuition that you might pay, that you should be aware of when considering which college or university to attend.

Tuition for Community Colleges

Community colleges are two-year colleges that are funded by public money, usually a portion of local tax revenues. Per unit of academic credit, they are typically the lowest cost option for a college education. Community colleges offer two-year associate’s degrees as well as two years’ worth of foundational courses that students can then transfer to four-year universities if they wish to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Tuition for Public Universities

Public universities are four-year institutions of higher education and are primarily funded by public funds apportioned from state budgets. Of the four-year universities available, public universities are often the lowest cost option available, particularly for students who live nearby. However, public universities in one state may have a lower average college tuition rate that public universities in another state. Among public universities, those located in the Midwest and in the South tend to charge slightly lower tuition rates than the tuition charged by public universities located on the West Coast and on the East Coast.

In State, Out of State and International Status at Public Universities

As public universities are largely paid for with state-level public funds, public universities have a tuition and fees schedule that groups students into three types of groups: students who are residents of the state, students who are from another state, and students who are from another country. In-state resident students pay the lowest tuition rates, out of state students pay the mid-level tuition rates, and international students pay the most expensive tuition rates.

Private Colleges and Universities and their Tuition

Private colleges and universities are supported largely through the tuition and fees students must pay; however, to be fair, government supported financial aid programs tend to fund a large percentage share of private tuition and fees. Private colleges and universities typically have the highest college tuition rates of any other institution. But the increased price has its advantages and its drawbacks. A few private universities are quite prestigious – Harvard University, Stanford University, Yale University, and George Washington University come to mind – and provide quality programs often worthy of the hefty sticker price. At the same time, some private colleges and universities have less money and determination available, resulting in lesser facilities and academic offerings that what can be found at a public college or university.

Other Factors for Tuition

Average college tuition or the sticker prices aren’t the only determining factors for the price of college. When considering how much college will cost, you should take into consideration your total picture of expected costs. Do you expect to live with your parents, in dormitory housing, in shared housing, or by yourself in an apartment or house? Do you want to or must you buy new books, or can you buy used books? And of vital importance, what kinds of financial aid are available for each college or university and how much financial aid could you secure? Average college tuition is a big part of the college costs picture, but not the only one.

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