According to the College Board (an American nonprofit corporation that iStock_000078261771_Smallprovides services, tools and resources to students, parents, colleges and universities), the average college tuition costs and fees for a four-year public sector college or university increased 2.8% in 2013-14, 2.9% in 2015-16, and 2.9% in 2015-16. The average college and university tuition costs for four-year schools increased by 13% in 2015 dollars over the five years from 2010-2011 to 2015-2016 following a 24% increase between 2005-06 and 2010-11. A simple average increase over the last ten years would be equivalent to 3.7% per year.

Also, according to the College Board, the average cost of college at public two-year colleges and universities rose by 14% in 2015 dollars over the five years from 2010-11 to 2015-16 following a 13% increase between 2005-06 and 2015-16. Also, according to the College Board, the average increase in the cost of college for private non-profit four-year colleges and universities increased by 11% in 2015 money over the 5 years from 2010-11 to 2015-16 following a 14% increase between 2005-06 and 2010-11.

According to the College Board, the rising cost of college tuition at four year public college or universities would look like the following in 2015 dollars:

 

College Tuition Graph

How Much Does College Cost?

The rising cost of college tuition doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. The previous paragraph highlighted what has happened over the last ten years for just college tuition and fees. Add to that the rising costs for books, housing, food, transportation, and communication costs, and you have a very expensive adventure ahead. How much college costs must be weighed with all the costs of attendance, not just what the colleges and universities charge for tuition and fees. The area of the country that students attend in regards to rent or real estate ownership costs will vary greatly but must be considered in the average cost of college. It goes without saying that going to NYU in New York City, New York, will cost far greater than going to Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.  Next to college tuition costs, the next highest expense related to the rising cost of college tuition, is room and board. These related expenses must be considered in the equation.

How to Potentially Minimize College Tuition Costs

One idea is for students to attend community college to help minimize the rising cost of college tuition. According to an article in US News and World Report on February 17, 2015, there were 1.8 million full-time community college students. According to College Board the average cost of college at community colleges across the United States for 2014-15 was $3,347. Vermont had the highest community college tuition costs at $6,000. According to the same article in US News and World Report, 38% of the community college students paid no tuition and 62% paid some or all of the tuition. 67% or two-thirds of community college students come from households with less than $50,000 per year and 50% or half of those students have incomes below $30,000 per year. Students attempting to minimize the rising cost of college tuition should certainly consider attending community college. This would help them defray the rising cost of college tuition, and perhaps allow them to stay at home for two years thus minimizing room and board expenses. College tuition costs could be significantly reduced by getting an Associate degree at a community college and taking the basic educational required courses at reduced college tuition costs versus four-year more expensive schools.

Pell Grants and Costs of College

According to community college research center, only 60% of all community college students apply for college aid via FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). FAFSA forms are confusing and difficult to fill out. They ask over 100 questions about family status regarding finances. Besides being time consuming it might be difficult to collect all the supporting documentation. Nonetheless, Pell Grants   (money to pay for college tuition, provided by the US government for students who qualify) pay for college tuition costs and can exceed $5000 per year, more than enough to handle the average cost of college tuition at the community college level for two years. Pell Grants are offered to students for up to six years. By the quoted statistics in this article, many students are NOT defraying the rising cost of college tuition by applying for this FREE money.

Tax Credits and College Tuition Costs

For students who pay up front for the cost of college, they can take tax advantage of federal tax credits. A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of taxes owed, not a tax deduction which would only save a percentage of taxes owed. Single filers, making less than $80,000 a year and marrieds filing joint tax returns making less than $160,000 a year, can get an education tax credit of up to $2500 on tuition they pay. If a student earns too little to owe taxes, Uncle Sam still offers a refund check of up to $1000. Students and parents of college students should take advantage of federal income tax credits to help lower the rising cost of college tuition.

In Conclusion on College Tuition Costs

Parents and students should take responsibility to fill out the FAFSA no matter what the circumstances are in order to take advantage of the money that the Federal Government makes available to defray or potentially eliminate the cost of college (at least for community college). Even two years of a free college education can make a huge difference. If a four year college tuition cost was $25,000 per year and if the student were able to finish in four years, two years at a community college for free or at a much reduced expense could save a student and/or their family up to $50,000. That is a significant reduction to the cost of college for any family. In addition, filing the appropriate information on tax returns can reduce the rising cost of college tuition as well. If a student can learn the information presented in their college courses, they can certainly learn how to navigate the FAFSA and the federal tax forms to take advantage of the free money offered to reduce college tuition costs.

 

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