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Know before You Go: Weighing the Costs of College

Posted on March 24, 2015

Ah, springtime—when high school seniors’ thoughts turn to checking their real and virtual mailboxes for news from colleges and universities. But the college selection journey doesn’t end with an offer of admission. Prospective students and their families must also consider the costs of higher education. Today’s WatchBlog explores the issues, and offers some ways to avoid college cost pitfalls.

Students and Families Shoulder More Tuition Costs

Students and their families, states, and the federal government all play important roles in financing higher education. We recently found that state funding for higher education has decreased, so public colleges increasingly rely on tuition from students and their parents for funding, as shown below.

(Excerpted from GAO-15-151)

Moreover, published tuition and fees for public colleges increased by more than 50% in the past decade, and families are spending a larger portion of their budgets to pay for college. Our podcast talks about what the federal government is doing to help temper the growth of tuition costs:


Thinking beyond Tuition

Although they’re a big one, tuition and fees are not the only factor affecting college affordability. For students heading off to college, and their families, we’ve identified some other financial issues to consider as you calculate the potential costs of that college diploma: