Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid: Making the Most of It

As the years go on, the affordability of college fluctuates and we usually see a rise in the cost of tuition and fees. Looking back over the last 50 years, you can see how much the cost of college has changed and shaped higher education into the high status it is today. It’s no secret that getting a college degree makes you much more hirable to employers so pursuing one is worth the money. This is why many people decide to further their education and go to college. But the rising prices can deter some students. But how does a college student prepare and make the most of the current climate of college affordability? Well, College Raptor is here to help you out!

Notice the Current Trends

The first step to navigating affordability trends is to actually know them! Reliable sources such as College Board, will have college pricing trends reports available for students and parents to download and view. It is great to know the trends in college pricing and student aid before applying to college. This helps so that you can see how much your tuition and fees are projected to be. From this report, you’ll be able to view the average tuition and fees at a variety of institutions, inflation-adjusted tuition, enrollment statuses, and more! It also shows the average published tuition and fee prices along with the average net tuition and fee prices. You’ll then be able to compare it to past trends and the pricing over the last few decades.

Tuition and fees are the most expensive part of going to college. For a lot of students, finances are the determining factor for their chosen college. In just the last 12 years, tuition and fees at a public 4-year college have increased by almost 40%. These trends in college pricing can seem scary at first but when you’re properly prepared and educated, students and parents can get the most out of their aid. 

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How to Make College More Affordable

Even though tuition and fees have been lowered by 5% for private colleges and 4% for public colleges from 2021-2022, it’s still expensive to receive higher education. Here’s how to make college more affordable no matter your financial status!

1. Apply for aid

By applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll be able to see how much financial aid each college will give you before choosing which one you want to attend. If you’re already in college, filling out the application each year is still important in case your financial status and eligibility have changed.  

2. Apply for scholarships

Another great way to make college more affordable is by applying for scholarships. Using College Raptor’s scholarship search tool will help you find scholarships that you’re eligible for. A scholarship is a financial aid you don’t have to pay back. This is why we suggest all students apply for as many as they can! Applying to every scholarship you’re matched with can help pay for your tuition and other fees that add up throughout your college career. There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of scholarships out there which means free money for students! 

3. Apply for loans

Paying for college out of pocket is not possible for everyone, especially with the tuition increases. Student loans are often the go-to financial help that many people use throughout college. When you fill out your FAFSA application, you’ll be able to see how much government aid you’re eligible for and can decide how much money to take out. There are also private loans for students but their interest rates are much higher and interest will accumulate right when they are taken out. Before taking out student loans of any kind, sit down with a financial aid advisor. Talk with them about how these loans will impact your life after graduation and go over a payment plan. 

4. Create a budget

If you’ve already done all of the above, it’s time to start budgeting. Creating a budget throughout college will prevent you from overspending and taking out too many loans. In college, you’ll pay for food, gas, clothes, and activities, not just your tuition and fees! Check out our money management guide to help you get started. With proper money management, you can make your dollars last so much longer so you’re not stressing about money throughout the semester. No matter your financial status, creating a budget to live within or below your means will prevent poor financial decisions later on in life. 

As a student or parent, the prices of college can seem overwhelming but a college degree is worth it! Educating yourself on trends in college pricing and student aid for public universities, community colleges, and private institutions will help you keep track of how prices change over the years. By financially preparing for college, you’ll be able to make the right decision about which institution to go to. With the current trend of tuition and fees going down, now is a great time to start looking at receiving higher education for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

Between student loans and scholarships, College Raptor can help you tackle growing college affordability fears. Use College Raptor’s Student Loan Finder and Scholarship Search Tool to make it easier than ever to afford college.