Most people believe that college is much more expensive than it really is. Although some colleges are expensive, many colleges are within reach. Even if a student wants to go to a more expensive school, financial aid (money available from state governments, colleges and the U.S. Department of Education) can help those students who have planned ahead and worked hard in school pay for college. The basic costs of college are tuition, which is the amount of money that colleges charge for instruction and attendance; fees, which cover other costs, like athletic activities and special events; and other expenses, including room and board (the cost of housing and food), books, supplies and transportation. While costs vary dramatically, tuition can be as low as a few hundred dollars per year for part-time students receiving financial aid.
How much a college costs usually depends on whether it is a public or private school. The majority of students attend state or public colleges, which receive a portion of their budgets from state or local governments and can charge lower tuition to students who live in that state. Students from other states pay higher tuition. Private institutions tend to be more expensive than public colleges and charge the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.
For information on the costs of college and paying for college, enrollment and types of programs that are offered in colleges, visit COOL, the National Center for Education Statistics. The COOL Web site is designed to help students and their parents understand the different types of colleges and the costs of attending college. Information about individual colleges is also available on the COOL site.
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