The Real Cost of Tuition and How To Pay Less

College costs are clearly out of control, and we’ve dedicated this site to helping our readers save money on those costs. One of the things many students fail to realize is that the sticker price on a college is not what you’ll pay if you know what you’re doing. It’s not like buying a gallon of gas where you pay whatever the price is that the gas station has listed. Unfortunately, many students never apply for all the financial aid that they could because they falsely assume that they aren’t “poor” enough to qualify for many of the scholarship and aid programs available.

This doesn’t just apply to public institutions and community colleges either. In fact, many schools use a slider based on what you (or your parents) make to determine how much you actually pay. Yale University for instance, costs $53,000/year but that amount is paid by less than half of it’s students, most of whom come from wealthy families that can afford it. Students coming from families earning less than $60,000/year are eligible for about $50,000 in education grants that never need to be repaid. For families earning less than $200,000/year the sliding scale ensures that students are not responsible for more than 10% of that, so on average, students from families earning less than $200,000/year end up paying around $13,500/year in tuition and books which is far more manageable particularly if the student works while going to school.

Studies have shown that around 60% of students eliminated one or more of their college choices based on price alone. This, combined with a new federal law that mandates all colleges have an “actual price calculator” on their websites to allow students to see what they can actually expect to pay in tuition, will ensure that we have a clearer picture of college costs by the end of 2011.

Finally, make sure you factor in your likelihood of graduating, and how long it will probably take. College students tend to assume they will graduate in 4 years with a bachelors degree in their field of choice. The reality though is it takes on average 6 years for a student to graduate, and many students drop out before ever graduating. Check the graduation rates for the colleges you’re looking at, and the average time to graduation to get a more realistic financial picture of what you can expect.

If you found the previous article informative, you should check out more in our college life section, or read some of these articles below:

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