The Essential Four: How The Cost Of College Is Determined and What You Can Do To Make It Affordable

The #1 question I get from the parents that I work with is this:

How on earth are we going to pay for college?

Here’s what most parents know about the cost of college:

  1. It has become way more expensive now compared to back in the day when they were applying to schools. It has become similar to buying a house, really.  

However, not a lot of parents fully understand how colleges determine that huge sticker number. Even fewer parents know how to successfully plan for college and strategize correctly to receive the best financial aid package for their specific needs.  

So, today let’s break down what families are really paying when we send our kids to college and how to start planning to increase your chances of making college affordable for your family.  

#1: Tuition

This is where the bulk of the money goes. Colleges charge a fee for each unit or class a student takes on their campus. Tuition is the total sum of each unit a student takes throughout their whole college career. So, let’s take an average full-time student. They are taking five classes a semester for four years which may be around 15 units each for most colleges. When we add up the cost of each unit of all of the semesters of all four years, we will get the tuition cost for that college.

The average cost of tuition in 2019 for a four-year public school is $25,290 and for a four-year private school, it is $50,900. And that is for just one year out of four. Take a look at this article to see where these numbers come from.    

#2: Room and Board:

Now, the next possible big dent in your wallet is the cost of your child actually living on campus. Room and Board cover the expense of living in a dorm room and eating from the cafeteria on campus. This is another big expense because it is basically like paying for a whole apartment for your child, as well as, paying for all their meals during the course of four years.

It isn’t the cheapest option around, however, many colleges require students in their first and second years to live on the campus so parents might as well feel comforted that their child will be safe within the campus boundaries and will be getting the most out of their college experience.

The average cost of Room and Board is around  $10,800 for a four-year public school and $12,210 for a four-year private school.

#3: Fees

Next, we have additional fees. These are expenses that are hidden here and there throughout your child’s life in college. Things like orientation fees, science lab fees, transportation fees and airline tickets back home if your child went far away for school to name a few. These are not necessarily listed clearly in any paperwork, but it is important to be aware of how much spending money your child will need day to day.   

#4: Books

Finally, the last essential piece to the cost of the college equation is the price of all the textbooks that your student will need to purchase for their classes. This can stack up easily to a couple of hundred dollars. The average cost at any college is anywhere from $1200-$1400 a year.  

So, there you have it. The Essential Four parts of the cost of college.

Now, let’s talk about how to make these numbers more affordable.  

So many parents make the mistake of going at this college application process blindly. There are so many steps to be aware of and behind the scenes knowledge of the college planning process, that an average parent who is already super busy taking care of their families will simply not have the time to properly research.

That’s why I started College Planning Experts. We are a group of leading licensed college admissions counselors who only passion is working with families towards being accepted into their dream school without breaking the bank.

We work with families by getting clear on each families unique situation, wants and needs which we then match with our experienced knowledge of getting through the college planning process to craft a strategic plan that will increase the chances of families getting into their top-choice school, affordable.

If you don’t mind, let me ask you these questions:

Do you want your child to have the best time of their life in college?  

Do you want to avoid going completely broke to make this happen?

If you said yes to both of these questions then we would love to speak with you.


Just Call College Planning Experts at (818) 201-4847 to speak with one of our experts today and we can start discussing the best plan of action to get you an affordable college experience.


You can also reach us here:  

Our Website:

Our Phone:   (818) 201-4847

My Email: [email protected]

Written By Brian Safdari

Founder and President Of






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