Estimating the Cost of College

The cost of college is not limited to tuition and fees. When calculating the cost of attending any college or university, you should consider all expenses such as room and board, travel, and books and supplies. 

Remember: multiplying by four does not reflect your cost of attendance through graduation. Yearly tuition and educational cost increases, one-time gift aid, program length or costs, loan terms, and other factors may influence your actual final cost. When comparing colleges and universities based on cost, try outlining costs, gift aid, and loans in a side-by-side comparison.

Keep in mind that colleges, universities, and educational institutions may have different definitions of cost, including: sticker price, net cost, and net price. These definitions are based on those provided by the US Department of Education.

Sticker Price: the cost posted on college or university webpages and materials.

Net Cost: the amount of money needed to pay for college after subtracting all financial aid.

Net Price: the amount a college or university will actually cost you. It is the sum your educational expenses minus gift aid (money that doesn’t have to be repaid). This is the amount you should use to compare offers.

Contact college and university financial aid offices to get a more accurate estimate of your complete cost of attendance for the length of your program.