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Finance Factors: What to Consider about Your Degree's Overall Cost

Apr 19, 2017

If you're thinking about college, you're probably well aware that it can dramatically increase your life-long earning potential. The costs that go along with earning a bachelor’s degree aren't to be taken lightly, but the actual amount will vary widely.

College Costs

Most colleges change their tuition rates from year to year. But to give you a general idea, for the 2016 to 2017 academic year, public for-profit institutions charged about $25,000 and local state colleges about $10,000 for in-state residents. Private schools charged around $50,000 on average.

Don't forget additional costs such as textbooks, miscellaneous fees, transportation, and room and board which could total from $10,000 to $15,000 yearly.

Additional Studies

Most professional careers, such as psychology or teaching, will require at least a master’s degree. This requires an additional two years of study. One alternative is programs that prepare you for a career in business.

Some schools will specialize in a two-year MBA program. Business majors enjoy the benefit of having the credentials to work on the managerial side of almost any industry, and can often gain valuable experience in apprenticeship or intern programs. Find more information here about MBAs.

Cutting Down on Costs

One way to save is to obtain your associate's at an inexpensive community college. You could also use College Level Examination Programs. 

There are more than 2,900 schools that will allow you course credits for passing CLEP exams. Many students save money by buying used or digital versions of textbooks.

Online courses or colleges will be your cheapest and potentially fastest means of earning credits or degrees. Online studies are becoming both more diverse and more respected. Many schools will even award degree credits for "life experience" such as past employment.

How to Pay

Federal loans may be easier to get than you thought. However, you can't escape paying even if you declare bankruptcy. Non-payment could lead to additional interest and penalties. Many graduates spend years paying off their college loans.

Your first efforts should be focused on federal grants that you don't have to pay back. Many private organizations will also provide scholarships, though you usually have to meet specific criteria.

If you have a few years yet, you might consider tuition savings such as a 529 plan. This is basically an investment account, but since the money is intended for tuition, not as income, it may qualify you for tax deductions or credits.

Attending college and obtaining financing is one of the most important financial decisions you'll ever make. While the costs can be intimidating, if you wind up making a good living at something you enjoy, it's well worth the investment.

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