How Much Does a Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

A bachelor’s degree is a significant investment in your future. How much does a bachelor’s degree cost? Many factors can raise or lower the price of a degree program, from the type of college to scholarship opportunities. Explore the elements you need to consider to find the answers you need.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Bachelor’s Degree?

Once you decide to pursue a college degree, you may be asking, “How much does a bachelor’s degree cost?” When determining how much your college tuition will cost, you must look at the listed price and the amount of financial aid you will receive. Many college students receive financial aid to pay for their college education. In the 2020-2021 school year, $234.9 billion in financial aid was awarded to undergraduates and graduates, according to CollegeBoard.

When you subtract the amount of financial aid in the form of grants, and scholarships from the listed price, you can determine the net price or the amount you will be paying out of pocket.

The Education Data Initiative regularly tracks the average cost of college and tuition rates across the country. The cost of your bachelor’s degree program will vary by several 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.)

Take a look at the total tuition costs and other expenses to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program. The following tuition, financial aid, and overall cost averages can help give you an idea of how much a bachelor’s degree costs most people.

Average Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree

Overall, the average cost of college for students in the United States is $35,331 per year, according to the Education Data Initiative. This average includes living expenses, books, supplies, tuition, and financial aid. The following sections will give you a clearer estimate of average expenses in different degree programs.

Public Four-Year Colleges

  • Average in-state total cost per year: $23,487
  • Average in-state additional expenses per year: $16,138
  • Average in-state tuition per year: $9,349
  • Average out-of-state total cost per year: $43,161
  • Average out-of-state additional expenses per year: $16,138
  • Average out-of-state tuition per year: $27,023

Private Four-Year Not-For-Profit Colleges

  • Average total cost per year: $53,217
  • Average additional expenses per year: $17,410
  • Average tuition and fees per year: $35,807

Private Four-Year For-Profit Colleges

  • Average total cost per year: $35,125
  • Average additional expenses per year: $20,168
  • Average tuition and fees per year: $14,957

Tips for Cutting Down on College Costs

There are a few ways that you can decrease the cost of your bachelor’s degree program. How much does a bachelor’s degree cost with scholarships, grants, and other opportunities to reduce the price? Review these tips to see how to make college more affordable as you pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Start at a Community College

Many students decide to earn their associate’s degree at a community college and then transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university. According to the Education Data Initiative, public two-year colleges cost an average of 15,748 per year, compared to the $25,487 for in-state students at public four-year colleges, the $43,161 for out-of-state students at public four-year colleges, and the $53,217 for not-for-profit private colleges. Investing in an associate’s degree before transferring and earning a bachelor’s degree can significantly reduce the overall cost.

Enroll in an Accelerated Program

Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs can be completed in three years or less. While your course load will be more rigorous, and you will typically take classes year-round, an accelerated program has financial benefits. Earning your bachelor’s degree faster means you’ll typically pay less tuition, and you can generally enter your new profession more quickly.

Consider an Online Degree Program

Online degree programs can save students money with reduced commuting and parking fees. The tuition rates aren’t always lower, so you’ll need to compare them to see if commuting savings make it a more affordable option.

Ask About Life Experience Credits

In some cases, you may be eligible for life experience credits. These are offered to students who can demonstrate knowledge of a subject from work experience. Contact colleges to find out if they offer these credits.

Review Other Credit Options

Other credit options include CLEP exams and AP tests. As long as you understand the subject material, you may be able to pass these tests and earn college credit for less than the typical tuition price.

Some students choose to dual enroll during high school. Dual enrollment is offered at most high schools and allows you to enroll in one or more college classes while still a high school student.

Trim Room and Board Expenses

While room and board are essential, there may be areas you can cut back on expenses to reduce the overall cost of your program. Explore housing options and consider reducing your meal plan and preparing your own meals. Some off-campus housing may be more affordable than campus housing, though you’ll also have to factor in transportation expenses.

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Most colleges offer financial aid to students based on academic achievement and/or economic need. There are, however, many more opportunities from non-profit foundations, organizations, and government sources. Invest your time in sending in applications, writing essays, and performing other tasks to see if you can earn more aid for your program.

Find a Part-Time Job

As long as your schedule permits, a part-time job can be a way to earn work experience while reducing the overall cost of your program. A part-time job isn’t likely to cover the cost of a bachelor’s degree program, but it can help cover textbooks and other fees.

Find Out More About Bachelor’s Degree Costs

Whether you’re considering going back to school or preparing to enroll in college for the first time, it’s essential to weigh the costs carefully for a clearer answer to, “How much does a bachelor’s degree cost?” Then explore individual programs. Check out online and on-campus tuition and fee rates for highly-rated colleges around the country.

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