This article includes an overview of higher education's escalating prices as well as spending reduction suggestions.
1. Education Cost Components
2. Average Higher Education Costs
3. Influencing Factors on Education Spending
4. Rising Education Cost
5. Ways To Reduce Education Expenses
6. LightCourse: The Professional Problem Solver
Education Cost Components
Tuition is typically the most expensive component of a student's education. The cost of attending classes is referred to as tuition. In order to enroll in and attend a college, you will almost certainly be required to pay additional fees on top of your tuition. The cost of tuition and fees varies from one institution to another. You may be charged a different amount depending on your academic program, the number of credit hours you take, and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.
The expected expenses for a year at a college are known as the cost of attendance (COA). It is used to determine your financial need as well as the amount of qualified aid, like grants and scholarships, that you may be eligible for. The estimated cost of attendance may differ from actual costs. The following items may be included in the cost of attendance:
· Tuition and fees
· Books and supplies
· Room and board
· Health insurance
· Miscellaneous expenses
Most higher education institutions list the estimated cost of attendance for the academic year on the admissions page to help students who want to apply for admission have an idea of the approximate budget needed and estimate how much financial aid they can expect.
Average Higher Education Costs
1. Average cost of an undergraduate degree in the U.S.
The cost of tuition and fees varies by institution. According to CollegeBoard, the average public four-year college tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year are $10,740 for in-state students and $27,560 for out-of-state students. Tuition and fees at private non-profit four-year institutions cost an average of $38,070 a year for full-time students.
Tuition and fees, on the other hand, covers only a part of the entire cost of education. According to data published by Education DataInitiative, the average costs of getting a bachelor’s degree for the 2021-2022 academic year are:
· A public 4-year in-state institution's average cost of attendance for a student living on campus is $25,864 per year, or $103,456 over four years. For example, for the academic year 2021-2022, the undergraduate cost of attendance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is $31,636 for Illinois residents living on-campus.
· Out-of-state students spend $43,721 a year, or $174,885 over four years on average at public four-year universities. For instance, compared to in-state students ($31,636), out-of-state residents' cost of attendance is $49,086 when living on-campus for the 2021-2022 academic year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
· Traditional private school students spend an average of $53,949 per year, or $215,796 over four years. For instance, the total cost of attendance for undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University is $77,474 when a student lives on campus and $75,664 when living off-campus for the 2021-2022 academic year.
2. Average cost of a master's degree in the U.S.
A master's degree costs about $66,340 on average. The average cost of a master’s degree in Arts (M.A.) and a master’s degree in Science (M.Sc.) is $72,800 and $62,300. The degree can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000, depending on the school, major, and length of the program, for instance:
· According to StudyPortals, to earn a master's degree in the 1-year Applied Health Sciences Informatics program from Johns Hopkins University, students need to pay a $58,000 tuition and estimated living expenses of $14,880-$25,200. The total expenditure may reach $83,200.
· M.A. International Affairs, another graduate program at Johns Hopkins University, costs $40,310 in tuition and about $14,556 in living expenses per year, so approximately $109,732 is required to complete the 2-year program.
· The cost of the same program at different schools varies. The 21-month M.A. International Affairs degree at Columbia University costs can range from $116,670 to $182,043, depending on individuals' different living spending.
· The costs can approach $150,000 or more for top degrees at prestigious graduate schools. For example, to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Harvard, the tuition fee is $73,440 per year. The estimated living expenses covering housing, transportation, utilities, and other personal spending are $1,814-$3,756 each month. Thus, we can estimate that the cost of attendance for the two-year graduate program is between $190,416 and $237,024 ($95,208-$118512 per year).
Influencing Factors on Education Spending
There are numerous and complex elements that influence educational spending. The following are two of the most significant features:
1. Types of Institution
· Public institutions. In public schools, tuition is divided into two prices for in-state and out-of-state students, with in-state tuition being relatively inexpensive. Generally, out-of-state and international students pay the same tuition and fees, but a growing number of colleges are raising international student tuition rates. Take Michigan State University (MSU) as an example: Undergraduate tuition and fees for in-state, out-of-state, and international freshman students are $14,914, $40,726, and $42,226, respectively, for the 2021-2022 academic year.
· Private institutions. Private schools are typically more expensive than public schools. Private institutions, on the other hand, do not distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students. Therefore, tuition fees are the same for all students. For example, the undergraduate tuition and fees budget for the 2022/2023 academic year at Boston University (BU) is $61,050(tuition) + $1,310(fees) =$62,360, which doesn't include housing and other personal expenses.
2. Geographic Location
The cost of a student's education can vary due to the geographical location of the institution. Studying in schools in the mid states, for example, is typically less expensive than in New York, Los Angeles, or the Bay Area.
For instance, the 2021-2022 academic year estimated undergraduate cost of attendance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is $ 27,530 for Wisconsin residents and $55,888 for out-of-state students.
On the other hand, the 2021-2022 undergraduate cost of attendance for California residents is $36,297 (On-Campus) / $36,172 (Off-Campus) and $66,051 (On-Campus) /$65,926 (Off-Campus) for out-of-state students at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
Rising Education Cost
Due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, some institutions have adopted tuition freezes and discounts, but tuition continues to climb. Based on the data released by U.S.News, the average tuition and fees at private institutions have increased by around 1%. In-state and out-of-state tuition and fees at top-ranked public schools have risen by roughly 1% to 2%.
For example, the data on CollegeTuition Compare shows that Harvard's tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year increased by 3.00% from the previous academic year, from $53,968 to $55,587. The University of Pennsylvania's tuition and fees increased to $61,710 for the academic year 2021-2022, up to $7,668 from $60,042 for the 2020-2021 academic year.
In fact, according to U.S.News, the average college tuition in the United States has been consistently rising for 20 years.
From 2002 to 2022：
· The average tuition and fees at private institutions have increased by 144%.
· The average tuition and fees at public universities have increased by 171% for out-of-state students.
· The average in-state tuition and fees at public universities have increased by 211%.
Image Source: U.S.News & World Report
As tuition fees continue to grow, more people are burdened with student loan debts. In the early 1990s, college tuition costs accounted for only 6% of the median household income in the United States. In 2014, the percentage was close to 16%. In other words, a college student would cost around one-sixth of a family's total income. By the end of 2020, approximately 45 million people in the U.S. were carrying student loans. According to Education Data Initiative, the total U.S. student loan debt had reached $1.75 trillion in 2021, up 2.69% year-on-year (YoY) compared to the previous year.
Ways To Reduce Education Expenses
Based on the experience we've gained over a decade of service, here are some strategies to help ease your financial burden during college:
· Study in an in-state institution
As mentioned above, although public schools are generally less expensive than private schools, the cost of attending a public institution as an in-state or out-of-state student can vary significantly.
· Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships
Financial aid refers to tuition assistance provided by the federal and state governments, schools, or private institutions. Depending on the student's financial circumstances, the selection process may differ. A Merit Scholarship is a financial award that students receive based on their academic success.
Need-Based Financial Aid: The goal is to relieve financial strain on the family, and the amount is determined by the family's financial position. Students can apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or their institutions' Need-Based Financial Aid programs.
Merit-Based Scholarship: Designed to recognize and recruit exceptional students, the amount is determined by the student's performance. The majority of scholarships are awarded by universities and colleges. However, many businesses (such as McDonald's or Intel) also offer scholarships to the general public. Some scholarships require students to apply, while others are given to deserving students automatically.
· Save money on books and supplies
The money spent on college books and supplies is often overlooked. The average price of new hardcopy books ranges from $80 to $150, with some even costing up to $400. According to the "Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021" report by CollegeBoard, during the 2021-2022 academic year, the average estimated budget on books and supplies for full-time, on-campus undergraduate students at 4-year institutions is $1,240. Purchasing digital/used or loose-leaf books through campus bookstores or online marketplaces such as Amazon is far more cost-effective.
· Take a part-time job
It's common for college students to work part-time jobs. It's a fantastic method to improve your personal abilities while earning extra money and easing your financial load. However, international students with F-1 visas are not permitted to work off-campus in the United States. They can only work part-time on-campus or apply for a CPT for an internship through the institution. Students can apply for part-time jobs as librarians, cashiers, teaching assistants, or research assistants. These positions, of course, have tight time constraints, with no more than 20 hours per week and 40 hours over holidays.
· Avoid failing classes
Each credit is often worth $800-$1500, and a course is worth $2400-$4500 calculated on the basis of 3 credits per course. Failing a class will cost you extra money to retake and affect your GPA. Therefore, when selecting a course, it is important to evaluate criteria such as the course syllabus, difficulty level, number of assignments and tests, evaluation method, and reputation of the professor. In many circumstances, different teachers may assign drastically different grades for the same course.
· Graduating early
The premise of graduating ahead of schedule is to take one or two extra classes each semester than the regular 12 credits and use summer and winter breaks to take courses for additional credits. Graduate in advance can help saving money on fees, room and board and other living expenses.
Take courses off-campus
Taking classes at a community college or enrolling in authorized courses from different schools online/in-person and then transferring the credits back to your home institution is a more affordable approach to fulfill your credit requirements than taking all of the courses on campus.
LightCourse: The Professional Problem Solver
LightCourse is a global higher education opportunity provider that aims to help students minimize their educational costs and maximize their access to quality education. We provide an opportunity for students to study in a more cost-effective and diverse manner.
We provide official college courses that cost about 1/3 of what students would pay at their home institutions. We recommend taking equivalent courses on LightCourse after consulting with your home institution to help reduce your educational expenses.
For students who want to speed up their educational process, LightCourse has established partnerships with prestigious institutions around the world to provide 7000+ credit-bearing courses in more than 300 majors and disciplines, including business, computer science, math, art, humanities, and natural science. In addition to online study options, we also provide students with study abroad opportunities.
LightCourse offers a full credit transfer service to assist students with the process of registering for off-campus courses and transferring credits. Over the years, LightCourse has helped a large number of students from institutions worldwide to transfer academic credits, intending to ensure academic success for every student.
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