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Discover the True Cost of College

Saving for college starts with understanding the true cost of a post-secondary education. College expenses grow every year and include more than just tuition. Over the last 10 years, published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year universities increased at an average rate of 2.2% beyond inflation, according to the College Board.

Scroll down to see the national averages for one year at an in-state public university in 2019-2020.


This is what most people think about when they consider college expenses—the cost of attending courses. In reality, tuition constitutes just 39% of the average student’s total bill.

Tuition & Fees



Room & Board




The typical cost of on-campus housing. Whether students live on or off campus, the cost of living during college can be a significant hurdle.


This accounts for traditional books and supplies, as well as technology like computers and software.

Books & Supplies







Even students who live on campus need to get around. Transportation costs include things like bus fare, gas and car maintenance.


Food, a cell phone bill, clothing. This accounts for everything else.

Other Expenses






This is the average total cost of college for a full-time in-state student at a public four-year university.

Don’t let the sticker price scare you. Most students will receive grants and other benefits to help pay the bill. The remainder can be covered with traditional savings, student loans or a 529 account, which has significant tax benefits and can be opened with as little as $1.

Research has shown that children with savings of just $500 are three times more likely to attend and four times more likely to graduate college. You got this. Get started today.

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