How much will college cost in the years ahead? Probably an awful lot. The cost of a college education has been increasing faster than the rate of inflation lately. (The growth rate does seem to finally be tapering off, though.)
As you prepare to figure out how much it's likely to cost to send little Ethelred to Providence College or Brown University in a few years, take a deep breath. Sit down. Now, pop over to FinAid.org's college cost calculator, which will deliver the news. You'll need to plug in the current costs of the kind of college you want to prepare for, so check out these numbers from the College Board: For 2003-2004, tuition at a four-year private college costs an average $19,710 (up 6% from last year), and tuition at a four-year public college runs $4,694 (up 14% from last year). Room and board costs in the neighborhood of $6,000 or more, and tack on approximately $600 for books. The final bill: $26,310 for a private school, $11,294 for a public school.
Plug $26,310 into the calculator and leave the expected inflation rate at 6%. If Ethelred is 10 years away from matriculation, the calculator says you can expect to fork over a total of $206,120 over four years. Yowza!
If Ethelred is currently in utero, you can expect to pay more than $325,000 for a pricey private college education -- or nearly $140,000 if he goes to a public school.
If you feel your heart racing and your chest tightening, relax. The College Board also offers some comforting words:
- Almost 30% of students attending four-year schools pay less than $4,000 for tuition and fees.
- Almost 70% of students attending four-year schools pay less than $8,000 for tuition.
- Only 8% of all students attend schools where tuition is $24,000 or more.
Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to come up with the moolah for Boolah Boolah U. Here is a bunch of resources that can help you learn more about various schools and about paying for college: the U.S. Department of Education, the Student Guide, FinAid.org, the College Board, Peterson's, Campus Tours, the Fool's College Savings Center, The 529 plan guide, and Mapping Your Future.
We offer more tips on this topic in The Motley Fool's Guide to Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs from K to Ph.D. Also,drop by our Paying for College discussion board, where folks will be happy to answer your questions.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. And she thanks mom and dad for paying for her college.