Skip to main content

What's the average cost of college?

It's certainly true that college isn't cheap. But with a solid plan and several funding sources, you can make it happen.

See the big picture

You probably know that the average cost of college tuition has risen steadily. But that doesn't tell the whole story.

Most families pay for college using a variety of sources, including financial aid and gifts from others.

In fact, the average family paid $13,461 for college in 2014, including parent and student income, savings, and borrowing. That's only 64% of the "total cost" of tuition, room and board, and other expenses.

Source: Sallie Mae.

Where are costs headed?

It's hard to say what will happen to overall college costs in the future, but recently they've risen an average of 6% a year. Over time, that adds up. That's why it's so important to start saving early and to make saving a priority.

How much does college cost and how much will it cost in the future?

A series of bars showing how the projected cost of college will increase over  the next  18 years.

Source: The College Board, "Trends in College Pricing," 2014. Based on The College Board's 2014–2015 average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board. This example assumes an average college-cost inflation rate of 6%.

Get your college savings number

Now you know how much an "average" year of college costs, but to be a successful college saver, you'll need a plan that fits your situation. Start by setting your goal amount.


Handy tools

You're planning to put money away for their future, but how do you know if you're saving enough?

Tips for grandparents

Learn some smart tips on giving the child you love a head start on college.

The Vanguard 529 Plan

Discover the many benefits of our premier college savings plan.

REFERENCE CONTENT

Layer opened.

How much does college cost and how much will it cost in the future?

This chart shows that the annual cost of public and private college is getting more and more expensive every year. In 2013, the average cost of tuition was $18,390 for public college and $40,920 for private. Fast-forward 5 years and the projected cost of school will be $24,610 for public and $54,760 for private. In 10 years, the projected cost will be $32,934 for public college and $73,281 for private. In 15 years, the projected cost of school will be $44,073 for public and $98,067 for private. And finally, 18 years from now the projected cost of college will be $52,491 for public and $116,680 for private.