College costs will become a bit easier to calculate for families worried about paying tuition and other expenses.
College costs will be a little bit easier to calculate this fall thanks to federal rules designed to provide more clarity for the millions of American families working their way through the maze of college, financial aid, grant and scholarship applications.
College costs pose significant financial concerns for most American families - even those at the highest wealth levels - according to Millionaire Corner research, which also reveals prevailing attitudes that students should shoulder the costs of higher education and, at the same time, avoid taking on student loans.
Investors surveyed by Millionaire Corner in October are most likely to believe that students should pay their own college costs. More than 40 percent of the 839 survey participants, representing investors from a range of wealth levels, said it is important for students to pay their own way through college, while nearly 23 percent disagreed with the statement. Participants also showed a bias against student debt. More than 40 percent agreed with the statement, “I think it is important for students to graduate from college debt free.” Less than 29 percent disagreed with the statement.
College costs present a formidable obstacle for most families. Public four-year colleges charge an average of $7,605 per year for in-state tuition and fees, and $11,990 a year in tuition and fees for out-of-state students, according to the College Board. Average annual tuition and fees at a private nonprofit four-year college is $27,293. Students face additional costs for food, housing, clothing, transportation, books and supplies.
Grants and other forms of financial aid can lower published college costs, reports the College Board. Most students received financial aid at an average of $11,500. This includes more than $6,000 in grants that do not have to be repaid.
By the end of October institutions of higher learning are required to provide students and their families a calculator to determine the net price of attending the school. The net price goes beyond a school’s “sticker price” and helps families more accurately estimate college costs by taking into account students’ individual circumstances, grants and scholarships.
The “net cost” calculator requirement is contained in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which reflects a broader effort to boost college affordability and access. The act also requires the U.S. Department of Education to compile lists of colleges charging the highest and lowest tuition and fees, and colleges most rapidly increasing their fees. The lists are available at the department’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.