The question often comes up during the college application process: how much will I need to borrow to pay for it all?
The amount of your college loans depends on how much your family has saved, how much financial aid you qualify for, how much grant and scholarship money you get, and more. But the good news is that established formulas will help guide you to the right answer.
Bear in mind that the total cost of college is more than just tuition and room and board. It includes things like your books and lab fees, transportation costs, and laundry, which can add up.
Also keep in mind that your school must first certify that the amount being borrowed is in line with the tuition and other costs accrued. The money you borrow will be sent directly to the school rather than to you or your parents.
Remember these questions as you think about student loans for college:
Naturally, you should also be aware that by taking on this debt, you have made a legally binding pledge to repay it. The extent to which you do so faithfully will affect your credit standing for years to come.
Media coverage about the exploding costs of post-secondary education tends to focus on the eye-popping expense of top-tier institutions, such as those in the Ivy League. This can induce sticker shock in most parents.
But it also creates a misleading picture, for at least two reasons:
Private schools are perceived to be more expensive than public schools, but if you examine the numbers, that's not always true. Public schools cost less because they are subsidized by the state, while private schools are not. However, private schools usually have more institutional aid to give out, so the actual cost may be just as affordable.
Relatively few students pay the full list price at a private college, since even more students at private universities receive financial aid than at public institutions. Often, because of endowments and other sources of funding, private institutions have more access to aid than public schools. Overall, about two-thirds of students attending four-year institutions do so with the help of some form of financial aid.
The upshot is this: educational finance experts suggest forgetting about the distinctions between public and private tuition costs, at least as you begin the search process, and instead focus on the school or schools that represent the best fit for you.
Knowing more about private student loans could give you the opportunity to attend the school of your choice. If you have ruled out a private college as too expensive, it still may be a possibility with private student loans. Learn about our Citizens Bank Student Loan™, a private loan for college.
Generally speaking, the manner in which a college or university charges in-state versus out-of-state tuition to students depends on whether they're a public or private institution. Naturally, since they're supported directly by state taxpayers, public institutions usually (or at least traditionally) charge higher tuition for students coming from outside the state than they do for their own residents. Also, keep in mind that residency requirements vary.
On the other hand, instead of charging different rates for college in-state and out-of-state tuition, private colleges and universities usually have the same sticker price for both types of students. But that doesn't mean the actual price your family will pay will be the same. Depending on how the institution wants to balance its student profile, it may well offer more financial aid for students from certain targeted places, in part to maintain a diverse student population. That can result in you being awarded more financial aid if you happen to come from a geographical area the school has identified as a priority.
Publicly funded institutions have worked together to offer steep discounts—sometimes equating to the same university in-state tuition rates charged to their own residents—to out-of-state students. They created:
Some publicly funded institutions have long offered university in-state tuition rates to students from contiguous states, either informally or through formal reciprocity agreements.
When you are still young and you're trying to save for your college education, you're probably focused mostly—or possibly exclusively—on two large-ticket items: tuition cost and room and board, either on-campus or off-campus.
And why not? Those categories comprise by far the largest portion of your post-secondary educational expenses. But many families are also surprised by how much they must spend on incidental—but nevertheless essential—items.
You should know that the federal government has a rigorous formula when it comes to calculating your Expected Family Contribution. It requires each accredited institution to provide a cost-of-attendance budget each year, which can serve as a starting point for estimating your family's costs.
For Federal Pell Grants and Direct Stafford Loans, covered costs are limited to:
Direct Stafford Loans can also cover the following expenses:
Remember that, depending on your needs and preferences, you may encounter other categories of expenses that must be accounted for, such as lab fees or trips home.
When it comes to calculating college costs for attending the school of your dreams, it can be alarming enough to consider the obvious costs that are impossible to miss, like tuition. But many students understandably fail to also include a host of smaller—but still considerable—indirect college costs that they'll have to shoulder. To draw up a realistic budget and perform an education cost analysis, you'll need to consider both categories of expenses.
Think of the direct college expenses as the big-ticket items that most people would ordinarily consider when planning. They include:
Indirect college expenses include books and other college supplies as well as miscellaneous out-of-pocket costs that you generally don't pay directly to the college. They include:
The good news is that many of the indirect costs—including computer rental or purchase, books and child care—can be financed through your student loans.