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The Total Cost of College

Students bound for college should determine early what the total cost of college is to better prepare for it. Whether paying for their own college education ("I'm saving up for college") or being sent by their parents ("We've been saving up so we can send our son to college."), it is always advantageous to have an overview of the estimate of the total cost. Bear in mind that the total cost of college is not simply limited to the tuition fees. The actual expense will depend on how the student's lifestyle on campus will be.

The cost of attendance (COA) is the total amount of students to attend a certain college each year. Now the school will compute its average COA by using a formula ascertained by the congress. The school then will base its fees according to its COA to ensure that the total cost the school might incur for the students will be covered. Tuition fee is the principal cost of attending a private school, while board and lodging tends to be the primary cost in public colleges and universities. The other costs that colleges and universities will possibly consider when computing for their COA are as follows: Tuition, room and board, books/supplies, living expenses, meals, and the estimate for transportation, for personal expenses, and for medical expenses. To better understand the COA of a desired college, it is advised to visit the school's website or study the school's brochure.

The total cost of college will also vary with the kind of school you wish to attend. For example, the average tuition fee for a two-year college costs $2, 544; for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, the average tuition fee costs $7,020; for out-of-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, the average tuition fee costs $18,548; for private four-year colleges and universities, the average tuition and fee costs $26,273; and for profit institutions, the average tuition fee costs $14,174. These are only the average tuition fees; it does not include yet the other expenses to give you the overall total cost of college.

If attending a college sounds too expensive, there always some back up plans available such as qualifying to receive financial aid. The Department of Education and colleges have a formula in determining your financial need. They look into the cost of the college you desire to attend and your expected family contribution (EFC). The more money your family has to spare for your education, the less financial assistance will be available for you. If you qualify for financial assistance, it may come in the form of federal grants, college scholarship, and college loans.

If you still insist in attending a certain school but the financial assistance you are offered could not cover the total cost of college, look into other private college loans for extra funds; just make sure that you understand the repayment policies as to not have any problem with the loan before the school is over. You can also attend school part-time to ease out the college costs, or maybe you can attend a community college first and complete an associate degree before transferring to your desired school toward a bachelor degree.

You can also minimize the total cost of college by being frugal. Your books do not have to be new, you can buy used items. Having a budget plan will also help you keep track of your monthly financial situation. You can also avoid spending too much by not joining activities which are not crucial for your education.

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