Jon O'Donnell Updated on March 15, 2018

Figuring out how pay for your child’s college education is one of the most anxiety-inducing milestones in parenting — and it doesn’t help that it's always easy to find out how much tuition is. 

Unless you have the money to pay for your student’s education outright and most parents don’t you're likely to face some surprises when figuring out your college funding plan. 

But before you get overwhelmed with the process, it helps to get some baseline information about college costs. 

Knowledge is powerful – and comforting

Maybe you’ve heard people refer to “the fear of the unknown?”

We believe that knowledge is the best antidote to college-financing anxiety, so we’ve done a little research to give you a good starting point: getting the lay of the land on tuition costs.

Here is the average annual tuition and fee cost for three common college scenarios:

College Board Trends in College Pricing

Source: The College Boards Trends in College Pricing report.

Remember, the sticker price is rarely the actual price

Many students don’t pay the full tuition amount once they go through the financial aid process, but these figures give you an idea of how sticker pricing differs based on the public/private, in-state/out-of-state factors.

While in-state, public schools certainly win the prize for economy in this comparison, keep in mind that — depending on the school the price of a private school education can sometimes end up being quite competitive with in-state, public schools once all financial aid and scholarship considerations are factored in.

Once you dive into research for specific schools, you’ll be able to find out more detail, of course. You may find that tuition may differ depending on your student’s major or that certain schools have more fees than others.

Regardless, these average figures are a good place to start your research!

Be sure to check out our NitroScore calculator to see how your choice of college and major might impact your ability to pay off student loans.

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