College Planning

Understanding The Cost of College Tuition and Other Expenses

This article discusses tuition rates and the main expenses a student incurs outside of tuition. It is important to anticipate these costs to avoid unexpected financial stress.

How Much Is College Tuition and What's Excluded?

How much is college tuition? A question aspiring students (and their parents) ask each year. A recent survey of college tuition, the College Board reports that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014-2015 academic year averaged $23,410, while a moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272.1

Moreover, between 2009-10 and 2014-15, the average net tuition and fee price paid by in-state students at public four-year colleges increased from about $2,030 to an estimated $3,030.2 While some of us may explore options such as a 529 College Savings Plan, many of us tend to simply accept the fact that college costs will be high. But have you ever stopped to consider where all of that money goes and the cost of what is not included?

According to The College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunities, people don't often factor in the miscellaneous expenses (meals, books, transportation, etc.) that they'll incur in addition to paying for their child's college tuition. Once you are aware of these additional fees, you may also want to learn about 5 ways to save money during collegeto help yourself prepare.

The following are some quick facts on the “other” college-related expenses that you may not have considered when grappling with how much college tuition you should be setting aside for your kids.

In 2014-15:

  • The average surcharge for an undergraduate, on-campus room and meal plan at a four-year in-state campus started at $9,804*

  • The average amount spent on books and other supplies was over $1,225*

  • The average transportation cost for students was $1,146

  • The average amount spent on other personal expenses was $2,096 (This may include things such as lab fees, athletic fees and equipment, club, sorority or fraternity dues, study abroad expenses, medical expenses, and emergencies.*)

While you can't possibly plan for every expense your child may encounter during his or her college years, you can get a bit smarter about anticipating general costs and saving for college. This will allow you to set aside the additional funds you may need and to plan ahead. For more information on saving for college, visit Protective's Learning Center.

2. Source: Trends in College Pricing Report, 2014

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

How Much is College Tuition

At some point, most parents wonder how much college tuition will cost and how they're going to be able to pay for it all. Fortunately, by planning ahead, you can get a better idea of how much you should be saving for college, including any additional extra costs that you may not have accounted for. Understanding what fees to expect will help you and your student to better understand the amount of tuition they owe. While costs for education and related expenses may have increased over the years, that doesn't mean you can't be prepared. Being proactive and knowledgeable about college tuition planning means that you will have less planning to worry about in the future. For more information, visit the Protective learning center.