College Costs: FAQ

Find the right college for you.

College may seem expensive. In reality, though, it’s often more affordable than you think. The costs depend on what college you go to and how much financial aid you receive.


How much is tuition?

Tuition is the price colleges charge for classes. Students also pay other fees related to enrolling in and attending a college. The cost of tuition and fees varies by college.

There’s a wide range of prices, as the table below shows. Remember, many students receive grants and scholarships that offset college costs.

Type of College

Average Published Yearly Tuition and Fees


Public Two-Year College (in-district students) $3,860
Public Four-Year College (in-state students) $10,940
Public Four-Year College (out-of-state students) $28,240
Private Four-Year College $39,400

These numbers are based on published tuition costs, not what students actually end up paying out of their own pockets. There can be a big difference between those two numbers, thanks to financial aid.

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What other expenses will I have?

In addition to tuition and fees, there are costs for housing, food, books and supplies, and transportation. Learn more about the five main categories of college costs.

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Can I get help paying for college?

Yes. Most college students receive financial aid. This is money that is given or lent to you to help pay for college costs. There are several forms of financial aid:

  • Grants and scholarships: money you do not have to repay
  • Loans: money you do have to repay
  • Work-study: a program that allows you to work part-time to earn money for college expenses

Students often use a combination of financial aid options to pay their college expenses. Read Financial Aid Can Help You Afford College to learn more. 

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What will college really cost me?

Less than you think. The best way to determine what a particular college may really cost is to calculate your estimated net price for that college. The net price is an estimate of the actual cost you and your family need to pay in a year to cover education expenses for you to attend a particular college. It’s the college’s cost of attendance minus any grants and scholarships for which you may be eligible. The net price is usually far lower than the published price.

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Is college worth the cost?

College has many benefits. For example, people who graduate from college earn more money and are more likely to hold a job than people who don’t graduate from college. Learn more about the value of college.

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How Outside Scholarships Affect Your Financial Aid Package

Learn how outside scholarships other than government or your college, can reduce the amount of financial aid you receive.