Education is one of the largest investments you will make during your lifetime. You may have wondered why it costs so much and what all those tuition fees are paying for.
The cost of your graduate education will depend on what school you attend and what subject you are majoring in. Attending graduate school can cost you upwards of $25,000 per term at some schools. You will also have to budget for textbooks and other costs, such as lab and technology fees.
What does college tuition pay for?
While the cost of online graduate programs is almost equal to that of traditional programs, your tuition fees pay for different resources. You may be wondering why the cost of online graduate programs is the same, since online schools don’t have a physical building to maintain.
Take a look at the breakdown of graduate school costs for both online and traditional programs to better understand where your money will be going. Keep in mind that the figures used are averages.
Check with your choice school to determine actual tuition costs.
Online grad school costs:
Tuition and fees: $4,000 – $15,000
Tuition and fees include the actual cost of each class you attend. The money you spend on tuition pays for the resources the colleges provides, like the professors that are teaching your classes. Online tuition expenses differ slightly from traditional campus programs in that they do not pay to maintain a physical school. Your money also doesn’t go toward lab fees or costs for in-class materials, but it does help pay for the online education classroom that consists of the platform used to deliver courses and any programs your instructors might use to teach a course online.
Room and board: $0 – $11,000
Room and board expenses can vary greatly for online grad students. While online students generally do not live on a college campus in student housing, there will still be costs you are responsible for while you attend graduate school, such as rent if you live in an apartment. Some students, however, choose the campus life and enjoy living among their peers on-campus, but just rather attend classes over the Internet. If this is the case, you can expect to pay housing costs directly to your school.
Books and supplies: $900
Just like students who take classes on campus, online students must also purchase textbooks and other supplies. These other supplies include software programs you might need to attend class. Some schools even provide online students with a laptop or computer to complete their work, so you may be contributing to that cost, as well.
Transportation: $0 – $1,000
Online students may or may not have transportation costs. Many online graduate programs require a few weekend residency sessions that students from all over the country attend. Unless you live near the physical campus of the school offering your online program, you can anticipate paying for airfare, hotel, and food, as well as the cost of the residency itself. You should also budget for transportation costs associated with internships, externships, or any lab requirements that need to be completed on campus.
Medical insurance: $0
Online students generally do not have access to medical insurance through their college or university like campus-based students do. Check with your online school to see if it offers any medical services to online grad students.
Traditional grad school costs:
Tuition and fees: $6,000 – $19,000
The tuition and fees you pay as a campus-based student pay for the resources the school is providing you to attend grad school. Tuition helps pay for professor salaries, and fees go toward technology expenses, such as the purchase of computers, laboratory equipment, or library materials you use during your time in grad school. You may also have to pay an immunization fee if you live on-campus.
Room and board: $11,000
Room expenses pay for your on-campus student housing. These fees help pay the building costs, electricity, water, mail services. Your room expenses will vary depending on what type of student housing you live in. Some dormitories may offer more privacy or larger units, which generally will cost you more. Your boarding expenses pay for your meals, as well as the salaries of those preparing the food in the student cafeteria. Your boarding fees will vary depending on what type of meal plan you choose.
Books and supplies: $900
The money you spend here goes toward purchasing any textbooks or additional materials you may need to attend class. You can expect to pay for in-class materials, handouts, booklets, or other supplies your professors use in class. Some colleges even provide students with laptops to complete their studies, in which case supply fees would be going toward this, as well.
Transportation: $0 – $1,000
Transportation fees vary greatly, depending on whether you attend a school in your state. Once you are at school, your transportation fees will also vary. Although some colleges and universities offer transportation services to students around campus, you may be responsible for paying for these services. Other transportation fees you can expect include the cost of travel to internships or other field experiences.
Medical insurance: $1,500
Students who attend traditional campus-based programs generally have access to medical insurance while they are attending school. Medical fees pay for on-campus nurses or doctors that many universities provide.
The Rising Cost of College Tuition
Even though higher education already cost a significant amount, trends are showing a rise in college tuition rates. According to a report conducted by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, tuition fees over the last ten years have continued to increase, even in a depressed economy. Not only have tuition fees increased over the years, but financial aid availability has decreased, leaving students responsible for paying for college out of pocket.
If you are certain that attending graduate school makes sense financially in your field, the cost of graduate school shouldn’t discourage you. Remember there are many ways to offset the price of graduate school. In addition to financial aid and government assistance, look for scholarships and grants, but be careful with scams.
At the graduate level, you can apply for research assistantships, which not only provide financial assistance but also enhance your resume.
Lastly, inquire about financial assistance offered by professional associations and even employers, who are often willing to contribute to the education of their workforce.