Every year, the College Board releases new college cost data and trends in its annual report. The figures published are average cost figures based on a survey of approximately 4,000 colleges across the country. Referencing these figures may drive a student’s decision on whether to budget for an in-state or out-of-state college. Regardless of which one they choose, they may qualify for financial aid. Use this guide to brush up on the cost of college as well as the most up-to-date information for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The cost of college in 2023
Over the past 20 years, the average price for tuition, fees, and room and board has increased 38% at public colleges and 29% at private colleges over and above increases in the Consumer Price Index, straining the budgets of many families and leading to widespread student loan debt.
Public four-year: in-state
- Tuition and fees increased 2.5% to $11,260
- Housing and food (formerly room and board) increased 3.7% to $12,770
- Total cost of attendance*: $28,840
Public four-year: out-of-state
- Tuition and fees increased 3.0% to $29,150
- Housing and food increased 3.7% to $12,770 (same as in-state)
- Total cost of attendance*: $46,730
- Tuition and fees increased 4.0% to $41,540
- Housing and food increased 4.4% to $14,650
- Total cost of attendance*: $60,420
*Total cost of attendance includes direct billed costs for tuition, fees, housing, and food, plus indirect costs for books, transportation, and personal expenses. Many private colleges are at or approaching $80,000 per year in total costs.
Sticker price vs. net price
The College Board's cost figures are based on published college sticker prices. But many families don't pay the full sticker price. A net price calculator, available on every college website, can help families see beyond a college's sticker price. It can be a very useful tool for students who are currently researching or applying to colleges.
A net price calculator provides an estimate of how much grant aid a student might be eligible for at a particular college based on the student's financial information and academic record, giving families an estimate of what their out-of-pocket cost—or net price—will be. The results aren't a guarantee of grant aid, but they are meant to give as accurate a picture as possible.
2024-2025 FAFSA delayed until December
Typically, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA, opens on October 1st for the upcoming school year. This year, however, the 2024-2025 FAFSA has been delayed until December due to the most significant overhaul in decades.
The new, much shorter FAFSA contains a number of changes, including:
- A new "student aid index" (SAI) will replace the current "expected family contribution" (EFC) terminology in an effort to frame the resulting figure as a yardstick measuring a student's financial aid eligibility, rather than what a family will pay.
- For parents with multiple children in college at the same time, the new FAFSA will no longer provide an advantage in the form of a reduced parent contribution. This change has the potential to significantly decrease aid eligibility for middle- and high-income students who have one or more siblings in college.
- Cash support and other money paid on a student's behalf, for example a gift of money from a relative or a distribution from a grandparent-owned 529 plan, will no longer need to be reported on the FAFSA.
Remember that the 2024-2025 FAFSA will rely on income information from two years prior on an individual’s 2022 federal tax return (referred to as the "base year" or the "prior-prior year") but will use current asset information accurate at the time the form is submitted. For those who plan to take out student loans, turn to General Electric Credit Union for a personal loan with a competitive rate. Additionally, homeowners can consider a home equity loan to score an even lower rate. Because the loan is secured by the home, it’s even more crucial for applicants to review their finances and verify they can comfortably afford payments. For either option, though, applicants will need to demonstrate they qualify for the loan and their ability to repay it.
A lower rate equals a lower monthly payment and less paid in interest over the life of the loan. Learn more, schedule an appointment to talk through the options, or apply online today. Additionally, college-bound high school seniors with a passion for volunteerism can apply for our Robert A. Cunningham Memorial Scholarship.