What Did You Pay For Your Kid’s College? Please Respond

college sticker shockI’ve heard that public colleges continue to raise prices dramatically while many private schools are offering discounted prices.  WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD OR EXPERIENCED?

Please respond in the “reply” section at the bottom of the page. Also, see what others have spent on college.

I have three kids that will be there soon as well as many clients that I am preparing for these huge expenses. I’m believe  the published prices might not be all that accurate.

The graph below is from the College Board (whatever that is) and was published recently in the NYT and other places.  I can’t imagine how they came up with these numbers.  How can they say the average 4-year school is charging about $12k/year?

college cost graph From what I have read and heard, most Big Ten schools cost over $30k per year. True?


I’ve heard that private schools are more likely to give parents a break on tuition these days.  What have you heard or experienced?

What is the difference between the “list price” and “actual price”

If anyone wants to know why college costs have been going through the roof, the answer is simple: government guaranteed loan availability.  Parents were given an open credit line to borrow from for college.  When this happened, colleges seized the moment and started jacking up prices (to pay for new buildings, administrators, professors, etc.) knowing that parents would borrow all the money they needed to get their kids into college.

This easy access to loan money took a lot of the price competition out of decision-making since the money was being borrowed and would be paid back in installments over many years if at all.

Imagine if the huge loan amounts were not available or were dramatically limited in amount.  People couldn’t afford many of the current college price tags and enrollment would be slashed forcing colleges to LOWER  the cost to attract students.

Junior colleges, such as College of DuPage, are providing of a less expensive college experience and there is some hope that universities will move forward with internet based college courses.

In the meantime, please help our readers and me understand what the real world cost of college is at the school(s) your son or daughter attended.


 Related blog posts:

You’re Not Alone – Who Can Afford College Today? College Calculator

WSJ Richard Vedder: The Real Reason College Costs So Much

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  1. University of Illinois “in state” is $29,000-$30,000 all in depending on your lifestyle. Add another $5,000-$7,000 for business or engineering.

  2. Hi Brad,

    We paid the “list” price always for college for our 5 children, though we did ask about reductions. It may have something to do with my profession…not sure.

    Our oldest went to Wheaton College, costs were about $80,000 per year. Next daughter attended TCU one year, at $60,000 then to Illinois State for three years at about $40,000 per year. Next daughter to Concordia Nursing at $35,000 per year, then to cosmetology school for one year at $15,000. Then a child who never finished college, though attended Judson for 2 years at $25,000 per, and finally our youngest daughter who just finished 4 years at Baylor at $60,000 per year, and now a year of grad school there which she is paying for (with occasional help from us until her bank loan monies come in).

    All these figures include tuiition, room and board (a very significant expense), utilities, books, meal plans, miscellaneous supplies, and trips home for holidays.

    We began saving $100-200 per month for each child when they were all about 2 years old (UGMA accounts) and increased that when we could, and by the time they were ready for college we had enough saved for each of them to finish the first 2 years. Then we sold our vacation home in WI to help cover the additional costs of having three in school at one time and no other monies remaining.

    During those final 5-6 years of schooling we took no vacations and didn’t go out much…it was worth it! The one son who never finished college is now thinking of going back at age 31…that will be his cost to bear when he is ready.

    Hope that helps!

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Edw. J. Keuer

    • 2012-2013 Notre Dame Tuition and room and board is $55,000. Add books and spending money. Doubled since your 98-02 experience.

  3. Hi Brad,

    Since I have a senior in high school, I am in the thick of this right now.

    I think there are many colleges offering tuition for $12,000 a year. But, you have to realize that this is just tuition, not room and board. For instance, UCLA is $16,000 in-state tuition, but by the time you add in all the extras and housing, it costs you $31,000. I think Berkeley is about $12,000 and UW Madison is $10,000 in-state.

    As far as tuition breaks, it depends on what the school’s endowment is. The cheapest place to go to college (depending on parent’s income) is often Harvard, because they have the largest endowment in the country. By law they have to give it all away or pay taxes on it. Stanford lets you attend for free if you make less than $60,000 a year and you only pay the cost of room and board if you make between $60,000 and $100,000. Now, the catch is that you have to be able to get in! Stanford has the lowest acceptance rate in the country at 5.5%.

    Many schools give away merit scholarships that reduce the cost of admission and don’t need to be repayed. These are dependant on how desirable the applicant is relative to the rest of the student body. If you are way above the typical applicant in terms of test scores and grades, they want to attract you with incentives and scholarships to attend. My nephew is a freshman at George Washington University this year, and they gave him $18,000 a year in award money that doesn’t have to be paid back. Someone like Maggie would likely be given a lot more in merit scholarships at a school like Madison than she would be to someplace like Northwestern where all the applicants are high-acheivers.

    FYI: The college board is a non-profit organization that manages the SAT tests and provides access to scholarships, amoung other things. Here’s their mission statement:

    The College Board is driven by a single goal — to ensure that every student has the opportunity to prepare for, enroll in and graduate from college. From our earliest days, we have devoted ourselves to educational opportunity and achievement. We are advocates for children and parents; we empower teachers and educators; and we are a strong presence in thousands of schools and communities across the country. Our work falls broadly into three categories: College Readiness, College Connection and Success, and Advocacy.

    You will be intimately familiar with them once your kids start testing!

    Hope this helps. Bottom line, you should still plan on $30,000 a year for college and then be pleasantly suprised if they offer you something.



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