Find out the real cost of your degree

September 15, 2015

Do you ever wonder how much your education is really going to cost you?

To get a clear picture, you must consider the net cost of your degree. The formula is simple: take the total cost (including all hidden fees) minus any “free money” you can get.

Hidden costs of a college degree

When you think about the cost of an undergraduate or graduate degree program, you likely think about tuition rates. But there is more to consider to understand the true cost of a degree.

Other educational costs include:

  • Room and board. Even if you’re living off-campus or taking an online degree program, you’ll need to pay for living expenses like food, rent, utilities, etc.
  • Books and school supplies. Books and other course materials can be expensive, and even little things like school supplies can add up. Computers, printers and Internet access are basics that every student needs, especially if you’re attending an online university.
  • Travel and miscellaneous expenses. You might need to pay for parking or public transit to get to and from classes. Other expenses could include things like a cell phone and its data plan.
  • Fees. Fees vary by school, but could include extra charges for activities or specialized school services, like tutoring or career counseling.
  • Student loan interest. Student loans are a great way to pay for tuition and other educational expenses, but they come at a cost.

Student loans vs. free money

When it comes to financial aid, your first step should be exploring ways to fund your education for free, using grants, scholarships, federal work-study, and tuition reimbursement.

However, even with grants, scholarships, or paying out of pocket as much as possible, many students turn to student loans as a necessary means to an end. That said, you should do what you can to limit the amount you borrow in student loans. Even if you qualify for more money, only accept as much as you need to cover your expenses.

Figure out how much you need to borrow, estimate the total cost of your student loans (including interest), compute your monthly payments, and more using these financial aid calculators.

Know the net cost of your degree

It’s important to understand the real cost of a degree and put a financial plan in place, before beginning a program. Remember this formula when you’re figuring out your degree’s net cost:

Total Tuition + Hidden Expenses – Free Money = Net Cost of Your Degree

Use Capella University’s tuition calculators to estimate your costs and time to complete your degree.

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