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How Much Does College Cost?

Many factors contribute to the cost of higher education.

When considering college, there is one common topic that every student must consider: money.

Answering that concern, however, isn't as straight forward as one might expect. So how do you figure out how much your education going to cost, both in the immediate future and in the long-term?


adult learner with calculator


Forbes has stated that a general rule of thumb is that you should not borrow more in loans than what you expect to make during your first year after school. This is a great start to answering the question, but it's not going to be possible for all graduates.

The average public, in-state, on-campus student spent roughly $23,410 for college-related expenses in 2014, according to College Board. This means that an average student would be paying about $93,640 in tuition for a four-year degree.

Unless an entry-level position is paying $100,000, it’s doubtful that this student would be able to pay back his or her student loans within one year.

In the absence of a general guideline that all students can follow, it's important that the subject of cost is considered ahead of time, and that realistic expectations are set in order to avoid unnecessary levels of debt.

The Two Costly Ts

There are two things that college students spend a good deal of money on: tuition and textbooks.


According to, the average cost of tuition and fees during the 2014-2015 academic year was:

  • $31,231 for private colleges
  • $22,958 for out-of-state residents at public institutions
  • $9,139 for in-state residents at public institutions

Obviously tuition isn’t negotiable, which makes it a hugely important up-front consideration. Universities have set tuition costs, and inflation can continue to increase the tuition during the years that you attend – unless you are a CSU Global student.

Due to our Tuition Guarantee, your tuition will stay at the same, low rate as long as you’re enrolled. Additionally, there aren’t any hidden student fees, making the cost of your education much easier to calculate (and budget for) ahead of time.

We also offer all incoming students free tuition planning to help foresee and overcome financial obstacles that they may encounter while they're earning their degree. What's more, at CSU Global you won't have to be concerned about out-of-state tuition fees, meaning you'll avoid the average $13,819 difference between the in-state and out-of-state tuition costs.

CSU Global also provides alternative credit options, meaning you can earn college credit by demonstrating your existing mastery of course materials, meaning you may be able to avoid taking and paying for that course even if it's normally required for your degree.


In 2013, The Huffington Post reported that the price of college textbooks increased 812% within the last 30 years.

College students spend an average of $655 on textbooks every year, according to the National Association of College Stores. Multiply that by the four years it typically takes students to complete a degree program, and that's an average of $2,620 on only textbooks.

The good news is that you're not fenced into buying texts from just one bookstore, giving you some room to find better prices and save on this expense.

For instance, many online retailers offer discounted textbooks, such as:

Many of these book-selling websites also offer school supplies, which can further add to your savings.




In addition to tuition and textbooks, housing and transportation are common college expenses.

Last year, students spent between 26-47% of their total yearly education costs on housing and transportation alone.

For on-campus housing and transportation costs combined, students spent an average of:

  • $12,190 at private schools
  • $10,950 for out-of-state students at public schools
  • $10,950 for in-state students at public schools

Finding off-campus housing can be a more frugal option for you as a college student. However, with off-campus living comes more spending on transportation. Gas prices, parking passes, and other transportation-related expenses can add up very quickly.

If you choose to be an online student you wouldn't need to account for these things.


It’s easy to assume that having a well-known college name on your resume will impress future employers. However, name recognition is unlikely to make up a hiring manager's mind for them.

It may be more constructive to think less about name recognition and more about practical features of the school, such as affordability, location, and the degree programs on offer.


Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are the three biggest areas of student financial support, and they can each help you manage your financial journey through school.

Every college or university has a financial aid office, where the employees are responsible for communicating and giving students information about financial aid. They can also help students with loans, grants, scholarships, and many other forms of financial assistance. Take advantage of your school’s financial aid office and let them help you budget intelligently!

Finishing your degree program in a timely manner can also save you money, but attempting to rush through school or taking too many classes at once is likely to backfire; retaking a class because you didn’t receive a good enough grade can put you right back at square one, financially.

Nobody can tell you ahead of time what higher education will cost you, but with a little bit of forethought and some research on the specific universities that interest you, you can find the best fit for your budget.