How to Compare College Costs

As you consider where you will go to college, it’s important to compare your actual costs AND what you will receive for your investment.

Did you know?

  • Schools use various tuition models. Some schools inflate their cost of tuition to allow them to offer significant awards that correct the price to the actual cost of educating a student.
  • Schools are only required to report their tuition and average room/meal plan costs in your financial aid offer. This means that your final bill may be higher than your aid offer.
  • Some schools have hidden student fees that significantly add to your bill each year. When comparing costs, review the fee schedule carefully.

1)  Look at the Bottom Line

College is one of the most significant investments you will make, so it’s important to always look at the bottom line. While significant merit scholarships of $10,000, $15,000, or more look appealing after the hard work you invested in high school, verify that the awards will truly lower your costs to an affordable level.

Take action: Compare the total cost of attending your top choice schools and subtract the financial aid you expect to receive. Focus on that final number and ask yourself, is this affordable for me?

2) Determine Your Actual Cost

Since schools are only required to report tuition and average room/meal plan costs, it’s important to know if the numbers you see are the most accurate reflection of the true cost of attendance.

Take action:

  • Double check the year for reported tuition and fees. Does it represent the year you will enter college?
  • Search for “fee schedule” on your top choice schools’ websites and look for mandatory lab or course fees for your desired major, along with parking, fitness facility fees, etc.
  • Search a school’s website for “meal plans” and “housing options.” Most colleges and universities offer various meal plans and residential living options, but some may require you to select a certain option your first year. Determine what options are available to you and what the actual cost will be each year.

3) Find the Right Value

With comparative costs in hand, evaluate the investment. Your university of choice should provide a community that will support you in your academics and future endeavors. Strong alumni networks, successful recent graduates, and accomplished faculty will give you a head start in reaching your goals. Also consider if you will receive hands-on experience in your classes or have access to significant internship or research experiences before graduation. These elements, taken together, are the primary indicators of whether the education you receive will be worth your investment.

Take action: Look for key opportunities in your chosen program that will prepare you for success.

See if Houghton Is Right for You

Houghton University is a Christ-centered, nationally recognized university in Western New York offering fully online courses for early college students at a surprisingly affordable cost. For only $60/credit hour ($180/3-credit course), students gain access to an extensive selection of courses, including Intro to Christianity, Writing 101, and Financial Accounting, and there are no additional or hidden fees. All courses are taught by dedicated and experienced educators who integrate their Christian faith with outstanding scholarship and who are experts in their field.

New courses begin every 8 weeks. Visit Houghton’s website to choose your course, register, and begin earning college credit.

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