Finally, some good financial news for college students. Or maybe I should say, less worse news. After decades of rampant inflation, tuition costs for the 2013-14 school year increased by a mere 2.9% (for in-state public four-year institutions). This percentage increase in tuition costs represents the lowest year to year increase since 1976! This data, published by the College Board, brings some relief to the thousands of students struggling to absorb the ever increasing cost of a college education.
The College Board data goes on to reveal that for in-state students at public four-year colleges, the average published tuition costs and fees for 2013-14 is $8,893, up from $8,646 in 2012-13. Residents from out of state will be shelling out $22,203 at these same institutions, up from $21,533 in 2012-13. Students attending private four-year colleges can expect to pay $28,989 in tuition and fees in 2013-14, up from $27,884 in 2012-13.
Of course if you’re planning to live on campus that will cost you as well. The average published room and board charges for a public four-year college is $9,498, which is more than the tuition and fees charged to an in-state student by the institution.
While smaller increases in tuition costs are welcome news, these numbers show a four year degree remains plenty expensive. Students need to remember to fill out their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms in order to qualify for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. Scholarships can also help keep tuition costs down, and you don’t necessarily need to be a valedictorian to earn one. Students should speak with their high school guidance counselor who will have information on local scholarship sources. There are also multiple websites such as scholarships.com that allow students to find thousands of scholarships available nationwide.
Of course one of the best ways to offset the costs of college is through a dedicated college savings account such as a 529 plan or a Roth IRA. Parents who hope to contribute to the cost of their child’s education should consider establishing a college savings account as soon as possible to realize the most savings. Even if college is only a few years away for your child, it is still worth setting up an account. Every dollar that can go towards your child’s tuition is a dollar less that he or she will need to take out in the form of a student loan, and be responsible for paying off for years to come.
We all know that earning a college degree is one of the most important determinates of lifetime earning potential. The slowed inflation on college tuition costs brings hope that more students will be able to afford a college degree, and reap the financial benefits for years to come. Thanks for reading.
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.