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Don’t be discouraged by college sticker prices. Most will pay less.

The true cost of college is often much less than the sticker price. Costs consist primarily of tuition, fees and room and board. The chart below illustrates the average cost that most will pay.


2-year colleges and 4-year private colleges follow a similar pattern.

Costs are less because of:

  • Scholarships and grants: Gift aid awarded based on a variety of factors, including demonstrated financial need, academic achievement, leadership and field of study.
  • Need-based financial aid: EFC (estimated family contribution) is subtracted from COA (cost of attendance) to determine the amount of financial aid needed. Need-based financial aid is determined based on the remaining amount.
  • Work study: Government funds allowing for part-time employment of eligible students.

You can pay for the remainder by:

  • Personal Savings
    • 529 Plan: a tax advantaged plan that is used specifically to save for college expenses.
    • Classic Savings Account: a traditional option that will earn a small amount of interest over time.
  • Student Loans: These are private or federal and require repayment with varying interest rates.

By opening a 529 account, you are helping to reduce the future burden of student loan debt for your child or loved one.

The average amount of student loan debt varies, but the median amount in 2016 was $37,172. By opening a 529 now, you can help reduce the burden of student loan debt.

Source: Student Loan Debt In 2017: A $1.3 Trillion Crisis

Information about college costs.

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