Higher education can be expensive. This we all know. But just how expensive? How big of a difference does it make if you choose a private school or a public school? And sure, every recruiter will make grand promises of financial aid. But how much of the total cost will that it aid cover? If the costs are so astronomical, is college even worth it at all?
Our researchers put together a stellar infographic to answer these hard-hitting questions and then some. But like your own personal Cliff Notes (do kids even know what those are anymore?), I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting seven fascinating facts about college spending. Like a viral link, these facts will take you through a range of contrasting emotions. But unlike a viral link, you’ll learn how to really save some money. Take that, Upworthy!
1) College costs keep going up, probably more than you think. In 1984, the average tuition for a public 4-year college was $2,500. Now it’s nearly at $10,000. That’s a 400% increase for you kids in the back of the class who aren’t doing the math. While private schools remain the pricier option, their tuition is rising less sharply – about 270% over the last 20 years.
2) Speaking of being a pricier option, the most expensive private 4-year college (Columbia University) is almost 3x the cost of the most expensive public 4-year college (University of Pittsburgh). And since a private school education isn’t guaranteed to be 3x better than a public school education, weigh the costs and benefits carefully before you commit.
3) That being said, the cost of books for public vs. private colleges is roughly the same. The cost of room and board is also very similar. So even if the tuition at a private school implies a different standard of education, you can rest assured you won’t read the same number of textbooks and can complain about buying sheets for the same twin extra long mattresses.
4) In 2012, the average student loan borrower still owed $29,400. That’s more than a new car! It’s no wonder prospective students and parents alike begin to wonder if college is truly worth the cost.
5) This is the point in the list where it starts getting hopeful. Nationwide, $238.5 billion in financial aid was awarded to postsecondary students during the 2012-13 school year.
6) And the average undergraduate student received $13,370 in financial aid. Taking advantage of the scholarships and resources available to you might require some extra work. But that research and effort can significantly reduce your overall costs.
7) If you watch your finances carefully, college is totally worth it. Someone with a Bachelor’s Degree will earn, on average, over twice as much as someone with less than a high school education. And in general, the more education the receive, the higher your earning potential. This does not mean that a 4-year education is for everyone. And this certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone with a post-high school education any kind of success. But think of your higher education as an investment. You can choose to invest as much or as little as you feel comfortable. And it’s ultimately your decisions that determine how you grow that investment and make your degree work for you.
For more fascinating tidbits and money saving tips, including information about 529 plans and government assistance for those in the military, read through our infographic below.
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