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 college budget for a four-year, in-state public college for the 2016-2017 academic year averaged $24,610, while a budget at a private, nonprofit, four-year college averaged $49,320.1

Moreover, between 2011-12 and 2016-17, the published tuition and fee prices in the public four-year sector increased by nine percent. 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, 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 college to 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 2016-17:

  • The average budget for a full-time undergraduate on-campus for room and board at a four-year, in-state campus was $10,440

  • The average amount spent on books and other supplies was $1,250

  • The average transportation cost for students was $1,160

  • The average amount spent on other personal expenses was $2,110 (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.


1. Data obtained from the College Board - https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2016-17

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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 is 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.

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