Compare College Tuition

Compare college tuition between 4 year private colleges, 4 year public colleges, and 2 year community colleges. Is it really cheaper to attend a public college or university?

Last updated on June 20, 2024 by College Financial Aid Advice.

Compare College Tuition and Cost - 2 Year and 4 Year Public, 4 Year Private

Compare college tuition

2 Year Public - The cost to attend a 2 year public community college is the least expensive option. Not only are tuition and fees cheaper, but room and board is cheaper, because it assumes the student lives at home with the parent.

4 Year Public In-State - An in-state public college or university is an affordable option, as the tuition and fees are lower for state residents.

4 Year Public Out-of-State - An out-of-state public school becomes more expensive, although there are regional Tuition Assistance Programs that offer reduced tuition rates for students from neighboring states.

4 Year Private, Non-Profit - On paper, private 4 year non-profit colleges and universities are the most expensive. However, many of them offer large financial aid packages that reduce the cost. It may also be easier to graduate within 4 years, reducing the overall cost (see below).

Cost of College Tuition and Other Expenses

college tuition cost
While it is important to compare college tuition prices, you should also look at the total cost of college. Tuition prices will usually be the largest part of the cost of college, and the one that differs the most between schools. The above chart shows average costs for 2010 - 2011. Plan for rising tuition costs of 10% per year, or more for some public schools. Here's some of the main college expense categories:

Tuition and Fees Tuition and fees are set by the school, and may increase each year, especially for public schools. Tuition and fees may vary depending on how many units you take, and your major. For example, there may be lab fees for some art majors, or flying fees for aviation pilot majors.

Room and Board - $7500 - $9000 a year. Whether you live in the dorm, an on-campus apartment, or an off-campus apartment or house, the cost for renting a room can be very expensive. Share a room to reduce costs if possible. Board means food. Meal plans vary in price, and usually they are required if you live in the dorm. If you live in an apartment or house, you can usually save money on food by shopping wisely and preparing your own food.

Books and Supplies - Average cost $1137 a year. Books and supplies can be very expensive, depending on your major. Check out ways to save money with Cheap College Books.

Personal Expenses - Average cost $1989 per year. Laundry, cell phone, clothes, entertainment are all part of personal expenses. These are easy to go over budget. Why not get a student job for some spending money?

Transportation - Average cost $1073 per year. Expect to pay more for travel expenses if you have a car, commute to college, or live across the country from your college. See our ideas for saving money on transportation costs with Student Travel Deals.

Compare Cost of College Private vs. Public

Cost of College Tuition
Students with high GPA and test scores should definitely consider top private schools, as they can be very affordable. This is one of the best kept secrets - attending a 4 year private non-profit college or university can actually be cheaper! Private schools have several advantages.

Graduate in 4 Years - First, students are more likely to graduate within 4 years. In public schools, it may be difficult to get the classes you need as many classes are impacted and are only offered once a year, so it may take 6 years to complete what you think is a 4 year degree. As shown in the above chart, 4 years at a private college is not much more expensive than 6 years at a public college.

Good Financial Aid Packages - Second, many private colleges and universities have large endowments that are used for scholarships and grants for students who need financial aid. They may provide a better financial aid packet, so the expected family contribution is the same or less than a less expensive public school.

Better Job Prospects - Third, a degree from a top rated private school may help a student secure that all-important first job out of college. Since most students graduate with some student loans, having a good job to allow you to pay back the loans is important.

Share Your Tips About
Cost of College Tuition

Do you have some great tips to share about the cost of college tuition? Help others by sharing your story and enter our scholarship essay contest to win $1000 for college. Share your insights about the how to reduce college tuition cost. See our Scholarship Rules

What Other Visitors Have Said
About Compare College Tuition

Click below to see submissions from other visitors about the cost of college tuition.

Community College, State University, or Private University? You Decide  
I began my college search very early into my junior year of high school. I had always believed that I would and could go to a four year university. Guidance …

Why I Chose a Private College 
I started my college search around junior year of high school. I thought I wanted to go out of state, but I visited some local public and private schools, …

How to get into a good college 
From upfront the price of college looks like a big bulky number. Once you get around that number you see universities break it up into smaller categories: …

State Universities Offer Many Rewards 
As I am sitting at the dinner table my mom begins to remind me on the necessity of applying for scholarships . I mean, obviously I am aware I should …

Click here to write your own.

HomeTuition Assistance Programs Compare College Tuition


Welcome to College Financial Aid Advice, a website full of information on scholarships and grants, student loans, and other ways to save money at college.

Important Things to Do

Scholarships for 2025 - 2026 - It is never too early or too late to work on your scholarship searches. If you are part of the high school class of 2025, you should work on your scholarship and college search now. See our list of Scholarships for High School Seniors

FAFSA - The official 2024 - 2025 FAFSA is available now. FAFSA.

College Financial Aid Tips

Scholarship Lists An overview of the different types of Scholarship Money for College.

Grants Learn more about grants, the other free money for college.

Need Tuition Help? Reduce the cost of tuition with these college Tuition Assistance Programs.

Tax Credit Claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

College Savings Plans Save money for college with these College Savings Plans.

Need a Student Loan? Yes, you qualify for these college Student Loans.

Popular Scholarship Searches

Scholarships for High School Students

Scholarships for College Students

Easy Scholarships

Scholarship Contests

Weird Unknown Scholarships

Merit Based Scholarships

Scholarships for Minorities

College Scholarships for Women

Tuition Assistance

Best College Tuition List

Compare College Tuition

Overview Tuition Assistance Programs

Cheap Out of State Tuition in the Midwest

College Tuition Assistance in the West

College Tuition Help in the South

New England Tuition Assistance Program

Washington DC College Tuition Plans