How much can I afford?
The cost of attending college is influenced by multiple factors – your program or major, the number of enrolled hours, location (in-state vs out of state), size, and much more.
Before deciding, it is important to sit down and research what the best option for you may be. Things to consider:
- Current financial situation
- Interests or career goals
- Your ideal location (school size, campus life, etc)
- Admission requirements
- Other important factors that may impact your decision
There are numerous search tools available that allow you to see a wide array of information like programs and degrees offered.
Note: Most school websites have built-in calculators based on their current cost of attendance.
Types of Aid
Financial Aid comes from four main sources:
- State Government
- Federal Government
There are four main types of financial aid available:
Remember: Always pay attention to deadlines!
College Expenses 101
College comes with a lot of different expenses. Before you get overwhelmed, let's break it down.
Schools tend to break down the cost of attendance into five major categories:
- Tuition and Fees - The cost of taking classes: This amount varies based on the number of hours you enroll per year, your program or degree, and the location (in-state or out-of-state) of your school. Fees also vary based on school - visit your school's website for a list of fees.
- Room and Board - The cost of living while you attend school: This would typically include the cost of a dorm + meal plans, rent if you are living off-campus, food, utilities, and any additional household-related costs.
- Books and Supplies - The costs of books and other supplies you may be required to have for your courses. (Hint: If possible, try buying used books or renting textbooks to cut costs.)
- Transportation - The cost of traveling to or from school: (i.e. trips home or commuting to campus). The cost varies based on the number of trips, distance, and mode of travel. Don't forget, if you have a vehicle, you'll want to consider the cost of gas.
- Personal Expenses and Misc - The cost of personal expenses you are responsible for including eating out, bills (cell phone, insurance, etc.) entertainment, clothing, personal grooming, or anything else that you'll spend your money on that do not belong to any of the previous categories.
Each of these factors contributes to your overall cost of attending college and may vary by school.
How Budgeting Can Help
One way to potentially keep your financial and academic goals on-track (before attending or while in school) is through budgeting. Budgeting allows you to have control over your expenses and it makes it easier for you to compare your spending habits to your current income. And it may also help achieve your current savings goals. Budgets are created by you which means it must fit your lifestyle.