Rising college costs have been a headline-grabbing topic lately.
As summer starts to wane and our attention turns back to school, many parents are beginning to wonder: Will we be able to send our kid to college? Have we saved enough?
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Often, advice around how much to save for college begins with figuring out what the difference in price is between different types of schools, and weighing your family’s priorities. (Our “How Much to Sock Away For College” Calculator is a great place to start. Read on for even more resources.)
In the past, it was obvious that sending your child to a four-year, private school would be much more expensive than going with an in-state one.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy of a calculation anymore. While public universities are still cheaper than private ones, tuition hikes at public schools mirror cuts in state funding for education.
In fact, many state schools are now raising tuition at double-digit rates. Compared to the ’08-’09 academic year, this year’s in-state attendees of four-year public colleges are paying an average of 25.1% more for tuition and fees; that figure was 13.2% over the same time period for private universities.
Even worse, these hikes often come with little advanced notice to families and students. Many attendees of public universities don’t know the grand total they’ll have to pay ahead of time, as many states don’t know their budget until the summer. So, if educational funding is cut, public universities may hike up the prices at the last minute, like a few weeks before classes begin, or even midyear.
Some states are faring worse than others. According to SmartMoney, the following are the five states hit the hardest by recent tuition hikes:
The average tuition and fees for in-state students in the 2011-12 year was $9,022.
This was a 20.5% increase from a year prior and 98.3% from five years prior.
The average tuition and fees for in-state students in the 2011-12 year was $9,428.
This was a 16.8% increase from a year prior and 101.7% from five years prior.
The average tuition and fees for in-state students in the 2011-12 year was $6,808.
This was a 15.9% increase from a year prior and 74.2% from five years prior.
The average tuition and fees for in-state students in the 2011-12 year was $9,484.
This was a 15.7% increase from a year prior and 67.3% from five years prior.
The average tuition and fees for in-state students in the 2011-12 year was $6,044.
This was a 13.7% increase from a year prior and 65.8% from five years prior.
What This Means for Your Family
As we’ve previously mentioned, many parents are already waving the white flag when it comes to saving for college for their kids. According to a new survey, more Americans today are saving for big purchases, like cars and vacations, than for their children’s college education.
However, if you still plan to help your child pay for college, the sooner you start thinking about saving, the better. A college degree is even more important today, LearnVest Financial Planner Sophia Bera, CFP® tells us, because it’s the baseline for most jobs. Check out these resources to get started:
Should You Be Saving for Your Kid’s College?
The Biggest Financial Mistake Parents Make…
The 5 Most Common Paying-for-College Questions, Answered by a CFP!
6 Tips to Lower the Cost of College
4 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a 529 Plan
Tell us–will you be chipping in for your child’s tuition?