When you consider the cost of a bachelor’s degree, your underlying concern is probably whether or not you can afford it. But the real question should be this: “Can I afford to not get my degree”?
Number-Crunching Bachelor’s Degree Tuition
While the cost of a bachelor’s degree varies according to your major, the real determining factor in bachelor’s degree tuition is whether you choose a public or a private university.
According to the College Board, bachelor’s degree tuition at private universities averaged $26,273 in 2009-2010; public university tuition was about $7,020. Multiply that out and you get $105,092 in total bachelor’s degree tuition at private school and $28,080 at public school.
Ways to Raise the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree
These bachelor’s degree costs assume no detours or delays along the way. Changing majors is a common detour, and it can be a costly one, too. Changing your major one or more times generally results in your completing more than the required number of credits (usually 120) and taking more than four years to graduate. Since you’re paying per credit, the cost of each unneeded course comes right out of your pocket just like the costs of required courses do. Any additional semesters at school also increase the amount of money you’ll be paying in college fees.
Delays can also increase the cost of a bachelor’s degree, since per-credit charges may be higher for part-time than full-time students, especially at private universities. And the longer it takes to complete your degree, the more likely it is that your program will be subject to tuition hikes.
Ways to Keep Bachelor’s Degree Costs Down
All of this is certainly a persuasive argument for spending some time soul-searching before you go to college. Determine what you really want to study and how quickly you can reach your goal. This can be accomplished by taking a gap year or by starting your studies at a community college and transferring to a four-year university later on. Anything you can do to graduate in four years as opposed to five, six, or more is bonus for your bank account.
You can also decrease the cost of a bachelor’s degree by taking AP or other pre-college courses that translate into college credits. You won’t be charged for those credits, and you’ll save big on bachelor’s degree tuition by graduating a semester or even a year earlier.
And keep in mind that all costs can be offset significantly through bachelor’s degree financial aid. According to the College Board, in 2009-2010, public-university students received about $5,400 in financial aid that did not need to be repaid, and private school students received $14,400. Subtract those annual figures from the four-year sticker prices, and total bachelor’s degree tuition drops to $47,492 at private schools and $6,480 at public schools.
Ultimately, you have a big say in your total bachelor’s degree costs. Make wise choices, and you’ll find that your degree becomes something you can’t afford to not have.