When you are searching for colleges, it’s best to look with an eye to cost efficiency. After all, why get a degree to make money and end up owing money?
The average annual tuition of a private college is $30,097. That cost can add up even with grants and scholarships. Public schools are, of course, the most affordable, especially for in-state students. The average in-state tuition for public colleges is $8,836. Out-of-state tuition costs average $22,203, but some public colleges can be affordable for out-of-staters.
Here are a few:
• Wayne State College (OH) – $9,804
• West Texas A & M – $8,312
• Bemidji State (NM) – $8,134
• Minot State (ND) – $6,224
• Delta State University (MS) – $6,187
Beyond tuition you should also consider your investment. There is no sense to spend $35,000+ up to $120,000+ if your degree doesn’t make up for that outlay. Bachelor degree holders do earn twice as much as high school diploma holders over a lifetime, but still your investment should yield a reasonable return to make the cost of college affordable.
To assess a college’s affordability, you should calculate the Return of Investment or ROI, which measures the cost of attending college versus a graduate’s future earnings.
To do so, first add up your TOTAL college cost; it’s more than tuition. It includes fees (technology, recreation, assessment, laboratory, and health insurance fees), room and board, tests and supplies, personal living expenses, and travel. If you take longer than four years to graduate, and many do, don’t forget to add that additional cost in. You can subtract what you receive in grants and scholarship monies. Many schools now provide calculators for this.
Don’t forget the cost of your debt. Grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back, but loans do, and with interest. Your loan debt should never be higher than your annual starting salary. Think about what the average salary is for the job you want, and don’t borrow more.
Now look at your future income. Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics and salary.com. Both will help you determine your potential wages. Note that engineering degrees lead to lucrative careers. An education degree may be rewarding but potential earnings in this area are weak.
Here are some good resources to determine the ROI of attending certain colleges.
• College Reality Check
• U.S. News & World Report – Net Price Calculator
• College Affordability and Transparency Center.
The most affordable college, for example, is Georgia Institute of Technology –main campus: 4-year tuition $26,704, ROI $836,000. The most affordable public college is Arizona State University: 4 year tuition and fees $36,832.