Cost of college

How the Cost of College Can Make You Feel like You've Fallen Down a Rabbit Hole

When a $60,000 tuition bill is called a discount on a college education, blogger Jane Kulow wonders what they're smoking... In The Price of College, Kulow looks at the college cost learning curve parents must face. Her savvy recommendation that families look closely at the values and financial health of schools, as well as advice about what parents should ask about how colleges arrive at their "net cost" is recommended reading for all. See the whole column here

Amount Students Pay for College has Barely Changed Over Last Decade

The amount that students actually pay for college — because of increased discounts, grants and tax benefits — has barely changed over the last decade, according to the latest report from the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education research and analysis series.  Trends in College Pricing, a major analysis of college cost and affordability using data from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, reports on the prices charged by colleges and universities in 2013-14, how prices have changed over time, and how they vary within and across types of institutions, states, and regions. It also includes information on the net prices that students and families actually pay after taking financial aid into consideration.

As the report notes, “The story is a complicated one, with different students paying different prices at the same institutions, depending on their financial circumstances; on their academic qualifications, athletic ability, or other characteristics; and on their year or program of study.”

Among the highlights:

Coming to Terms with What Colleges Expect You to Pay

We're pleased to share with you today an excellent piece by W. Kent Barnds, Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning at Augustana College. Barnds sheds always welcome light on the concept and reality of the EFC or Expected Family Contribution, showing how it is possible that a student with an EFC of $15,000 and considering three colleges with the same price might be expected to pay $19,500 at one and $9,500 at another.

Who graduates from college on time -- that is, in 4 years?

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released this week shows that only half of first-time college students graduate in 6 years. As Catherine Rampell of the New York Times' Economix blog writes, "As we’ve covered here many times before, there is an abundance of evidence showing that going to college is worth it. But that’s really only true if you go to college and then graduate…" In a follow-up post, Rampell looks more closely at the completition rates and the reasons that students aren't finishing their programs on time.

What College Really Costs...

Think college costs a lot? Some of the most expensive colleges in fact cost far more than they charge. This Chronicle of Higher Education article -- "Hey, Students, Your Education Costs More Than You Might Think" -- takes a look at students' awareness of the real cost of college.

As Karen L. Leach, vice president for administration and finance at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, lays out the case:

Counting all the tuition the college brings in, but subtracting financial aid, Hamilton's budget is $115-million, she explained. Divided by the enrollment, 1,812 students, that comes to a cost of about $63,500 each. Then, subtract the $53,470 the college charges in tuition, fees, and room and board: "Each person, even a full-pay student, gets at least a $10,000 scholarship," Ms. Leach said.