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Paying for School

How Much Does College Cost?

There are many costs related to attending college:

  • Tuition & Fees - cost to take college classes
  • Room and Board - dorm room or other on-campus living options and meal plans (or costs to live and eat off-campus)
  • Books and Supplies - course books and other materials
  • Personal Expenses - can include laundry, cell phone, food and entertainment
  • Transportation - cost to travel home on breaks or commuter costs if you live off-campus

When developing a college budget, be sure to consider all costs, not just tuition!

Below is a chart of average estimated national school tuition and fees:

Type of College Average Published Yearly Tuition and Fees
Public Two-Year College (in-district students) $3,440
Public Four-Year College (in-state students) $9,410
Public Four-Year College (out-of-state students) $23,890
Private Four-Year College $32,410

Source: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/

Types of Aid

While college may seem too expensive or out of reach, there are many types of financial aid to help cover costs. Aid can be federal, state, or school-based.

Grants - money that generally does not have to be repaid
Loans - borrowed money that must be repaid with interest over a certain period of time
Work Study - work-study job that allows you to earn money to help pay for school
Scholarships - money awarded based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses (generally do not have to be repaid).

Source: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types

How to Apply for Federal Student Aid (FSA)

1. Create an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) online and to access U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity and electronically sign your federal student aid documents. To create an FSA ID, visit StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) at www.fafsa.gov. II you plan to attend college from July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022, you’ll be able to submit a FAFSA beginning on Oct. 1, 2020. You’ll be required to report income and tax information from 2019. Schools and states often use FAFSA information to award non federal aid, but their deadlines vary. Check with the schools that you’re interested in for their deadlines, and find state deadlines at www.fafsa.gov.

3. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR). After you apply, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. Your SAR contains the information reported on your FAFSA and usually includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number (not a dollar amount) used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your SAR information to make sure it’s correct. The school(s) you list on your FAFSA will get your SAR data electronically.

4. Contact the school(s) you might attend. Make sure the financial aid office at each school you’re interested in has all the information needed to determine your eligibility. If you’re eligible, each school’s financial aid office will send you an aid offer showing the amount and types of aid (from all sources) the school will offer you. You can compare the aid offers you received and see which school is the most affordable once financial aid is taken into account.

Source: Federal Student Aid At A Glance


Common FAFSA Mistakes

Check out this Financial Aid Checklist by CollegeBoard BigFutureTM

Search for Scholarships:

U.S. Department of Labor’s FREE scholarship search tool

WV state level financial aid information from College Foundation of West Virginia

College Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

SmartScholar: Find the Perfect Scholarship