What goes into the cost of college?
1. Tuition and Fees: Higher education institutions charge money for tuition in return for the instruction that they provide. Tuition at public colleges is often much less expensive for state residents as opposed to out-of-state residents who often pay anywhere from double the cost of tuition or more. In addition to tuition, colleges charge fees that cover a variety of things like ID cards, technology use, student activities, library access, parking passes, laboratory supplies, athletic facility usage, and so on. The costs of tuition and fees vary greatly depending on where students attend school.
2. Housing and Meals: The cost of "room and board," which means housing and meals, depends on where students chose to go to school. Some institutions have on-campus housing, such as dorm rooms or apartment-style living, while others may have more limited options. There are even some institutions that require incoming freshmen to live on-campus. Meal plans are typically available at most colleges, but vary in cost and availability.
3. Textbooks and School Supplies: The cost of textbooks are typically a separate expense that students must account for when budgeting for college. One college class may require a single textbook, while another may require four. Students have many options when it comes to obtaining textbooks, such as renting textbooks or purchasing used textbooks. These options are usually a lot less expensive than buying new textbooks. Additionally, students are required to provide their own school supplies, such as pens, paper, notebooks, etc.
4. Transportation and Personal Items: Students must consider the costs of transportation to and from college as well as the cost for things like personal items, clothing, entertainment, etc.
How to pay for all of this?
If the costs of college seem overwhelming, you are not alone. It is often surprising to many students when they learn how much it costs to go to college. But, never fear, there are ways to help students through this financial dilemma. First, remember that the amount you pay for college depends greatly on where you choose to go to school. Next, there are many financial aid opportunities as well as scholarships and grants that can help cover the costs of college. Next, students and their parents or guardians may want to consider investing in a college savings plan, such as the 529 College Savings Plan offered through the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA). Click here for a list of financial aid resources put together by LOSFA. Lastly, early planning is crucial to being prepared to pay for college. If you have not started planning, now is a great time to start.