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While federal student loan limits haven’t increased in a decade, the average cost of college keeps going up. Taking into account not only tuition and fees, but all other expenses including room and board, books and supplies, and transportation, here’s the average annual cost to attend four years at the following:

  • Public university as an in-state student: $25,890
  • Public university in another state: $41,950
  • Private nonprofit college: $52,500

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 40% of students complete their degrees within four years. Keep in mind that every additional year you take to graduate, though, could end up costing you another $68,000 (after factoring in lost income), according to an estimate by Complete College America.

Cost of attending a four-year college in another state

As the chart above demonstrates, tuition and fees charged by schools are the biggest component of college costs, followed by room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

  • Tuition and fees: $26,260
  • Room and board: $11,140
  • Books and supplies: $1,240
  • Transportation: $1,160
  • Other expenses: $2,120

Before you get too alarmed, keep in mind that not all students will pay the advertised tuition and fees published by schools.

While wealthy families can expect to pay the published price, the more relevant number for most students to keep in mind is the net price. That’s what families actually pay after factoring in grants and other financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid.

  • Average annual net price of attendance for in-state students at a public university: $14,880
  • Average annual net price of attendance at a private nonprofit college: $31,280

The charts below breakout the components of college costs, and allow you to compare the published price to the net price.

Although expenses like room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses don’t change, notice how tuition and fees drop when you toggle from the “published price” to the “net price.”

Net price of attending a four-year college in-state

  • Tuition and fees: $3,740
  • Room and board: $11,140
  • Books and supplies: $1,240
  • Transportation: $1,160
  • Other expenses: $2,120

Net price of attending a four-year private nonprofit college

  • Tuition and fees: $14,610
  • Room and board: $12,680
  • Books and supplies: $1,240
  • Transportation: $1,050
  • Other expenses: $1,700

In-state vs. out-of-state costs

As the charts above suggest, one good strategy for keeping college costs in check is to attend a public university in your home state.

Because support for higher education varies considerably from state to state, some states are better than others at providing an affordable path to a degree from a public university.

The map below shows average tuition fees charged by public, 4-year colleges and universities to both in-state and out-of-state students in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Best and worst states for in-state students

For the U.S. as a whole, in-state tuition and fees at 4-year public colleges and universities averaged $8,804. But some states charged much less.

10 states with the lowest in-state tuition and fees

  1. Wyoming ($4,311)
  2. Florida ($4,435)
  3. Nevada ($5,520)
  4. Utah ($6,334)
  5. Montana ($6,503)
  6. New Mexico ($6,825)
  7. Washington ($6,903)
  8. Idaho ($7,005)
  9. Georgia ($7,010)
  10. Alaska ($7,210)

In other states, students are more likely to pay more than the national average of $8,804 when they attend a public university in their own state.

10 states with the highest in-state tuition and fees

  1. Vermont ($15,537)
  2. New Hampshire ($15,491)
  3. Pennsylvania ($14,068)
  4. Illinois ($13,636)
  5. New Jersey ($13,297)
  6. Massachusetts ($12,331)
  7. South Carolina ($12,153)
  8. Virginia ($12,126)
  9. Michigan ($11,890)
  10. Connecticut ($11,726)

Best and worst states for out-of-state residents

If some states are a better deal than others for in-state students, the opposite is also true. You’ll pay a lot more to attend a public university as an out-of-state resident in some states than others.

For the U.S. as a whole, out-of-state tuition and fees at 4-year public colleges and universities averaged $24,854 in the 2016-2017 academic year. But you’re likely to pay considerably more in some states.

10 states with the highest out-of-state tuition and fees

  1. Vermont ($37,991)
  2. Michigan ($36,714)
  3. Connecticut ($32,836)
  4. Virginia ($32,250)
  5. Hawaii ($30,929)
  6. South Carolina ($29,888)
  7. Oregon ($29,330)
  8. Colorado ($28,986)
  9. Massachusetts ($28,740)
  10. Delaware ($28,497)

Other states are more friendly to out-of-state residents, charging them less than the national average of $24,854.

10 states with the lowest out-of-state tuition and fees

  1. South Dakota ($11,845)
  2. Wyoming ($13,239)
  3. New Mexico ($17,272)
  4. North Dakota ($18,288)
  5. Florida ($18,304)
  6. Missouri ($18,940)
  7. Minnesota ($19,088)
  8. Mississippi ($19,138)
  9. Oklahoma ($19,174)
  10. Arkansas ($19,323)

College cost of attendance continues to rise

The chart below shows that even after adjusting for inflation, the net cost of attendance has increased by almost 30% at public universities in the last decade and by 10% at private nonprofit schools over the same period. Note that these figures differ from the breakouts provided above because they exclude books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses.

Of course, costs and the quality of education provided can vary dramatically from school to school. You can use the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center to research and compare colleges and find the net price of attendance at thousands of schools.

Student loans to cover college costs

Student loans can be used to take care of not only required classroom materials like textbooks, but living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. That’s because if your basic needs are taken care of, you’ve got more time to concentrate on your studies and graduate on time.

Current federal student loan limits — which range from $5,500 a year for freshmen who are dependent on their parents to $12,500 for upper-level students who are independent — have been in place since 2008.

As a result, once students hit their limits on the most affordable federal loans, many are turning to federal PLUS and private student loans to cover increasingly large funding gaps.

As the table above shows, it’s not unusual for first-year students at public schools to be looking for close to $10,000 in additional funding a year, while students starting out at private colleges may have $20,000 or more in unmet expenses.

Financial aid statistics

Of course, loans aren’t the only type of aid available to students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a gateway not only to loans, but state and school-based grants, scholarships and work-study.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2015-16 academic year:

  • More than eight in 10 (83%) first-time college students attending school full-time received some type of financial aid as undergraduates. Financial aid may include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study.
  • About one in three (36.5%) undergraduates took out federal student loans, and the average amount borrowed was $6,775.
  • One in three undergraduates (36.2%) received a federal Pell Grant, and the average award was $4,027.
  • The maximum federal Pell Grant award for the 2018-19 academic year is $6,095. Students attending school year-round — in fall, spring and summer — can receive 150% of the maximum award, or $9,142.

To help you get a better grasp of the numbers, we’ve provided the sources for all the statistics we cite to help anyone from journalists to students.

All of the charts in this article are free for you to share or embed on your own website, blog, or research paper.

Check out the other articles in this series, which look at the average time to pay off student loans, average student loan debt, average graduate school debt, and student loan default rates.