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The Color of Money: Getting a degree without going broke

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By Michelle Singletary
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The College Board recently issued its annual report on the price of getting a college education.

For as long as I can recall, the trend has been troubling. The cost to attend college keeps going up -- often faster than inflation. And the amount of loans taken out to pay for tuition, fees, books, and room and board continues to rise.

This year it was more of the same. The published prices at private four-year colleges in the U.S. rose by an average of 4.4 percent. Tuition increased by an average of 6.5 percent for in-state students at four-year public colleges.

With the economy making it tougher for people to save, is there anything students and parents can do to keep college costs down?

I think there is, but it will require a shift in what we've come to believe is central to the college experience -- staying away from home for four years.

Let's take a look at the national averages for published tuition and fees for 2009-2010:

-- For in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, $7,020.

-- For out-of-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, $18,548.

-- For all students at private four-year colleges and universities, $26,273.

Keep in mind that those are figures just for tuition and fees. Add the cost for room and board:

-- For in-state and out-of-state students at public four-year colleges and universities, $8,193.

-- For all students at private four-year colleges and universities, $9,363.


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© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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