You understand the benefits of earning your bachelor’s degree, but how much is it going to lighten your wallet?
The answer: it depends.
The cost of your bachelor’s degree program will vary by a number of factors including:
- Type of college (private or public)
- In-state vs. out-of-state tuition (for public colleges)
- Online vs. on-campus courses
- Length of time you spend getting your degree
- Other expenses associated with your education (room, board, textbooks, etc.)
College Costs: The Reality
When determining how much your college tuition is going to cost, you must look at two things: the listed price and the amount of financial aid you will be receiving. Many college students receive financial aid to pay for their college education. In fact in the 2009-2010 school year, $154 billion in financial aid was awarded to undergraduates.
When you subtract the amount of financial aid in the form of grants, and scholarships by from the listed price, you can determine the net price, or the amount you will be paying out of pocket.
The U.S. Department of Education recently launched the College Affordability and Transparency Center which reports the 2009-2010 tuition rates for the highest and lowest college tuitions in the country.
Let’s take a look at the total tuition costs to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program at several different colleges. Keep in mind: these costs do not factor in living expenses or room and board.
The following tuition costs are representative of some of the most expensive and least expensive in the country, but the national tuition averages listed should give you an idea of how much a bachelor’s degree costs most people.
Public Four-Year Colleges
National Average: $25,588 per year
Pennsylvania State University: $57,664
University of Massachusetts Amherst: $47,668
Madison Area Technical College (Wisconsin): $13,368
New Mexico Highlands University: $11,044
Palm Beach State College (Florida): $7,960
Private Four-Year Not-For-Profit College
National Average: $85,296 per year
Sarah Lawrence College (New York): $167,872
Carleton College (Minnesota): $159,108
University of Western States (Oregon): $31,020
Mountain State University (West Virginia): $27,600
Allegheny Wesleyan College (Ohio): $17,760
Private Four-Year For-Profit Colleges
National Average: $62,644 per year
Sanford-Brown College (Virginia): $182,512
Brooks Institute (California): $107,280
University of Phoenix – South Florida Campus: $39,072
New England College of Business and Finance (Massachusetts): $35,600
American Public University System (West Virginia): $24,000
How Can I Cut Down Costs?
There are a few ways that you can decrease the cost of your bachelor’s degree program.
Many adult students decide to earn their associate’s degree at a community college then transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university.
According to the College Affordability and Transparency Center, public two-year colleges cost an average of $2,527 per year, compared to the $25,588 at public four-year colleges, $62,644 at private four-year not-for-profit colleges and $62,644 at private four-year for-profit colleges. You can see how the choices you make about your education can significantly affect the cost of your education.
Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs, such as at Hartwick College in New York, can be completed in three years or less. While your course load will be more rigorous and you will be taking classes year-round, many don’t see this as a drawback. Earning your bachelor’s degree faster means that you pay less tuition (you’re in school for a shorter time) and you can – hopefully – enter your new profession more quickly.
Online degree programs can save students money with reduced commuting and parking. However, from a tuition standpoint, online programs – while competitive with other degree programs – are not necessarily cheaper than on-campus degree programs.
When transferring into any bachelor’s degree program, one other way to reduce the time spent in school (again – the time spent paying tuition) is to check if you can earn life experience credits. These are credits that you earn for work experience. It is sort of like testing out of a class. Not every school offers life experience credits, so contact your college to find out if they apply.