Covering College Costs: A Quick Education in FAFSA

Americans got a minor respite from the ever-escalating cost of a college education in the 2013-2014 school year, as tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges rose only 2.9%, the smallest one-year increase since 1975-76, according to the College Board.

Still, going to college often means finding creative — and affordable — ways to cover an expense that, on average, according to the College Board, exceeds $18,000 a year for an in-state public college, $31,000 a year for an out-of-state public college and $40,000 a year for a private college (tuition, fees, room and board). Extrapolate those costs over four years and it’s clear why 60% of students who earned bachelor's degrees in 2011-12 graduated with college debt. For them the average debt was $26,500.

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