Unless you work in the admission field — or have a college student in your household — it’s easy to lose track.
Inflation also complicates matters, making it difficult to see how the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board have changed over time.
To make comparisons easier, The College Board crunched the numbers using 2018 dollars. A new list published by CNBC uses that data to chart college costs for each academic year between 1971-72 and 2018-19.
The Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn AHEAD) recently released a new research brief that examines the usability and usefulness of university Net Price Calculators (NPCs).
Financial aid offers play a big role in the college decision for admitted students.
But these offers are often confusing and award letters vary wildly, leaving students to make one of their first major life decisions without access to clear information.
“I think anyone who’s worked with students is just like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. What a mess,’ ” Rachel Fishman, a researcher with New America, told NPR. “It’s really the Wild West when it comes to how these letters look.”
“Free college” programs eliminate one of the biggest barriers to a college degree, but for adults returning to school, tuition isn’t the only stressor.
About 13,000 adults enrolled last fall in Tennessee Reconnect, a state program that gives free community college tuition to people over age 25 who haven’t yet earned a college degree.
Mike Krause, head of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission that oversees Tennessee Reconnect, told NPR they need to do more to prevent students from dropping out because their reasons for leaving school aren’t always financial.
Many college fairs are held during the fall. They provide a great opportunity for high school students and their parents or guardians to talk with college admission representatives. At two annual college fairs I am familiar with, financial aid representatives have a booth and talk about local scholarship options. Unfortunately, their booths are not very busy while admission representatives have many students waiting to discuss admission requirements. Usually the reps whose colleges are the most competitive and have the most well-known names have the longest lines.
In many instances, top students wait in long lines for well-known colleges because they have been encouraged to apply. Student GPAs and test scores can assist with the admission process, but there is a catch. Because most of the students applying to these colleges will also have impressive academic backgrounds, the colleges may not offer a generous financial award package to each student. Every college does things differently.