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Paying for College

Real Cost of College

Many people think college is much more expensive than it is.

Here are the average in-state costs per year for four types of colleges in Kentucky (some costs were estimated because the schools did not provide exact figures):

  • Public universities: $19,635.
  • Private nonprofit colleges and universities: $32,416.
  • Public community and technical colleges: $14,185.
  • Private for-profit colleges and universities: $26,908.

But paying for college is a lot like buying a car. The sticker price isn’t always what you end up paying. Most students receive scholarships and grants to help them pay for college, so the net price is often much less than the sticker price.

Let’s say that the college you’re interested in costs $25,000 per year. You qualify for a $4,000 Federal Pell Grant and $4,000 in state grants, and you have $3,500 in scholarships. Your total aid in grants and scholarships is $11,500, so your net price is $13,500. That’s how much you and your family will have to come up with.

All colleges that participate in federal financial aid programs must have what is called a net price calculator (NPC) on their website. The NPC will give you an idea of your out-of-pocket costs for that school. Links to Kentucky schools’ NPCs are below.

If you and your family can afford to pay the net price, accept the school’s financial aid offer and get ready to learn. If not, you can find a quality education at a less expensive college.

Where’s the money?

You’ve decided to go to college. Now you have to figure out how to pay for it. A college education is more affordable than you think. Financial aid comes in many forms, and you’ll probably qualify for more than one type. Contact the financial aid office at the school you want to attend to find out what’s available.

Check with the school to find out the latest costs. Depending on the financial aid you’re offered, it might not cost any more to go to a more expensive school than a less expensive school. You won’t know unless you check.

Let’s look at some common questions.

How is financial aid awarded?

Financial aid is awarded by state and federal governments, by your college and by private businesses and organizations. Remember, though, that you and your family are expected to pay as much as you can toward your college expenses.

Who develops the financial aid package?

Generally, the school’s financial aid office develops your package based on guidelines and law. The package usually includes grants, scholarships, work-study and loans and depends on what funds are available.