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What College Really Costs Now!

Back when the City Girl Savings blog launched in 2015, we had shared an article called What College Really Costs to help shed light on the rising costs associated with higher education. Here we are 7 years later, and the expenses related to college are still on the rise. In fact, according to the Education Data Initiative, average college costs see an annual increase of 6.8%!

While college may be a non-negotiable for some people or industry fields, more and more companies are hiring based on experience over education. While I don’t want to diminish the value of a college degree, being mindful of the cost to obtain that degree would be wise! Check out some up-to-date information on what college really costs nowadays.

What College Really Costs Now

Out of State Fees

One of the most expensive aspects of college is paying out of state fees with your standard tuition. If you’re moving to another state to attend college, you can expect to pay up to 3x more in tuition. Fortunately, the out of state fees don’t apply for the entire 4 years of the student’s college life, but that initial year will cost you. The average cost of in-state tuition alone is $9,349; out-of-state tuition averages $27,023.


It’s no surprise that housing expenses have gone up across the country, and there’s no difference with housing on college campuses. At 4-year institutions, the cost of room and board ranges from $9,395 to $12,540. That equals out to a monthly rent of $785 to $1045, and these numbers typically include utilities.

Depending on the city you live in, average apartment rents range from $1000 to $1600 per month. Those numbers are higher in major cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Miami. This means that living on campus is a better financial choice than living off campus, with the exception of having roommates to split the cost of rent.

Tuition and Fees
From 1989 to 2016, college costs increased almost 8 times faster than wages. That means paying down student loan debt after college will take significantly longer. As of the 2019-20 academic year, $101,584 is the price of a bachelor’s degree.

An option that students can take to avoid the high costs of tuition include studying 2 years at a community college and then transferring to a university. The cost of classes at junior and community colleges are significantly less than universities.


The average costs of books and supplies for a year in college is just under $1300. The costs of books and supplies hasn’t gone up as high as other college costs, but they can still add up. To help lower the amount of money spent on books, students can rent books or purchase pre-owned textbooks.

Another option could be to purchase digital books where applicable. Digital books take up less space and can cost less than a physical textbook. Because textbooks are a necessary cost of academia, there isn’t much one can do to get out of using books.

Interest on Loans

The average student borrows more than $30,000 to attend school. Although loan payments are deferred while students are in school, the interest still accrues. The longer a student is in school, the more likely they are to take out additional loans and accrue more interest.

The outstanding Federal Loan portfolio for student loans is just over $1.16 Trillion. This doesn’t include private loan debt. The student loan debt growth rate outpaces the rise in tuition costs by 353.8%. Unfortunately, 58% of all student loan debt belongs to women. Read 8 Tips to Help You Pay Off Student Loans for some guidance on tackling your student loan debt.

Related: 5 Things College Grads Need to Know about Finance

If you can prevent or lower any of the costs mentioned above, you’ll be doing your future self a favor! Deciding on where you want to go to school can help you map out an appropriate budget. Without a scholarship or full-ride, there’s not much that can be done to avoid the costs of higher education. Drop a comment below to share your experiences with paying for college (during and after your studies).

The CGS Team



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